In Taft, Okla., a group of protesters have gathered outside a local prison currently facing an outbreak of COVID-19.
KTUL-8 reports that protesters have taken to chanting “Orange Lives Matter,” outside of Eddie Warrior Correctional Center, a minimum-security women’s prison. They’re concerned with the way the prison has handled an emerging coronavirus outbreak. Merri Davila told KTUL that both her sister and a friend who is incarcerated at the prison have caught the virus. “They called me last night. They both said they have COVID, they said it’s just really hard with everybody in here you know,” Davila said.
Pamela Brown, a protester whose daughter is incarcerated at the prison, has said her daughter told her she contracted the virus as well. “And she was telling me ‘Momma, these women are in here saying that we’re going to die, we’re going to die,’” Brown told KTUL.
The protesters want inmates to have the ability to regularly contact family members during the pandemic and for there to be regular wellness checks, as well.
“They could do some field hospitals, for one thing, put up some field hospitals,” Cedric Johnson, one of the protesters, told KTUL. Angie Pitts, another protester, believes that anyone who has been nonviolent for over 1000 days should be released from the prison. “Put them on a monitor. Put them on probation,” Pitts told KTUL.
There is also concern among the protesters that the outbreak in the prison could eventually spread throughout the town. “I feel like Taft needs to be quarantined and if they catch any of us out we need a ticket,” Jennifer McDaniel told KTUL. McDaniel lives only a mile away from the prison with her 9-year-old son.
“They need to do that quickly before this spreads throughout the community, cause it will do that if we’re not careful,” Johnson said.