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Faith Leaders Hold Public Memorial

On May 12, 2020 Faith Leaders and the family members of those detained held a public memorial service honoring the 17 who needlessly died inside CA jails, prisons, and ICE detention centers. Broadcast on Facebook Live, 11:00-11:30AM Pacific time.

COVID-19 deaths in prison and detention is growing daily. Thousands of people are already COVID-19 positive. Health experts have warned that this threatens the lives of people detained, prison workers, and surrounding communities.

The interfaith prayer service honored the names of the 17 who have needlessly died in the custody of the state and lift up the voices of families who are pleading for the release of loved ones before it is too late… All lives are sacred.

The event followed COVID-19 safely practices, including facial masks and physical distancing.


San Francisco: Faith Leaders Hold Public Memorial for Seventeen Persons Who Have Died of Covid-19 in Prison and ICE Detention

What:   Public Memorial service for persons who have died of Covid-19 while incarcerated in California (jails, prisons, federal and ICE custody).

When:  Tuesday, May 12, 2020, 11:00-11:30am

Where:  450 Golden Gate Ave., San Francisco, CA

Visuals:  Tombstones representing each of the 17 people who have died.  Hearts with names of those whose families are pleading for their urgent release. Two dozen religious leaders of various traditions will perform memorial rites in Buddhist, Jewish and Christian tradition. 

Who:  Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, family members advocating for release of their loved ones through #flattenICE campaign. Rev. Deacon Davidson Bidwell-Waite (Grace Cathedral), Rev. Ron Kobata (Buddhist Church of SF), Rev. Vanessa Rush Southern (First Unitarian Society of SF), Rev. Jeanelle Ablola (Pine United Methodist Church), Rev. Theresa Cho (St. John’s Presbyterian Church of SF), Rev. Sadie Stone (Bethany United Methodist Church), Asian Prisoner Support Committee and others.

Following the the first COVID-19 related fatality of an ICE detainee in California last week, dozens of faith leaders and family members will hold a public memorial service for the 17 people who have died of COVID-19 while incarcerated in California (jails, prisons, federal and ICE custody). COVID-19 is already growing daily, and thousands of people inside prisons and detention centers are COVID-19 positive. Health experts have warned that prisons and detention centers are tinderboxes for the spread of COVID-19 threatening the lives of people detained, prison workers, and surrounding communities. 

The prayer service will honor the names of the 17 who have needlessly died in the care and custody of the state and lift up those whose families are pleading for release before it is too late.

Rev. Vanessa Rush Southern, Sr. Minister of the First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco

We are honoring those who have needlessly died. These deaths are tragic and should not have happened. Settings of incarceration are notorious for overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and the rapid spread of disease.  It is the responsibility of our elected officials and judges in these unprecedented and precarious times to put protecting life, including these lives, as their commanding priority.” 

Elizabeth Ponce (spouse of Armando Salgado, currently detained for 26 months at Mesa Verde)

“We need my husband, Armando, to be home with us not detained at Mesa Verde, just like all the other families need their fathers, mothers, siblings or children.  They have already paid their debt to society, yet continue to to be unjustly detained and deprived of their freedom.  We cannot allow immigration detention to become a death sentence.” 

Rev. Deborah Lee, Executive Director of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity

We are urging Federal Judges like Judges Chhabria for compassionate review of all ICE cases including those who have former convictions.  Everyone deserves to live. Their very lives are now in the hands of judges who are the arbiters between life or death for those incarcerated and detained.  Those with former convictions have served their time, earned parole, and deserve to be safe and reunited with their families, not unnecessarily detained and dangerously subjected to COVID-19.   We pray for swift and generous action.” 

The event will practice safe social distancing practices and include viewing on FB Live for online participation in the memorial.

Background:

Testing is very limited in ICE detention but according to  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 674 detainees have tested positive, out of 1,346 people tested or 45% of those tested. At least two have died in immigration detention. ICE has tested less than two percent of detainees nationwide. There are cases at more than 40 other facilities. 

The  UCLA’s Covid-19 Behind Bars reports 295 deaths nationwide, 21,007 coronavirus cases among incarcerated people, as well as at least 8,754 cases, and 34 deaths, among corrections staff. 

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The Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity is a statewide California organization that connects clergy and people of faith to the work of social justice. We work to make the criminal justice