Webinar and Resources: Organizing Against Toxic Imprisonment in the Face of COVID-19

On Monday March 30, 2020, hundreds of organizers joined us to connect digitally and learn about grassroots campaigns fighting to get people free from cages during the health crisis. We learned so much from the speakers and their collective organizing efforts, and are excited to share this video and the list of resources shared and mentioned, as well as some more gathered in the last 24 hours on relevant organizing. 

We hope they can help inform and inspire local organizing and a strong national movement for abolition in these dire times.

Thank you so much to all the presenters! 

We strongly encourage you to support these organizations and their efforts. If you value this work, we invite you to make a donation to help us fuel our resistance! Please follow links to organizations to donate. For Critical Resistance, you can donate here.


Amber Akemi Piatt, Human Impact Partners, part of the Audit Ahern campaign
Eunisses Hernandez, JusticeLA Coalition
Liz Blum (in place of MK Orsulak and Tifanei Ressl-Moyer), Decarcerate Sacramento
Kyle Neil, CUAV, No New San Francisco Jail coalition
Sharlyn Grace, Chicago Community Bond Fund

Amber-Rose Howard, CURB (Californians United for a Responsible Budget)
Laura Whitehorn, RAPP (Release Aging People in Prison)
Andrea James, National Council For Incarcerated & Formerly Incarcerated Women & Girls
James Kilgore,* Challenging E-Carceration

Anna So and Rory Elliot, Critical Resistance Portland chapter, Care Not Cops Portland

Lara Kiswani, Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC)

*James was not able to be on the 3/30/2020 webinar.


Santa Rita Jail Fight, Audit Ahern campaign

  • Human Impact Partners: Statement on COVID-19 & incarceration.

  • Call to action: Last week, a nurse in Santa Rita Jail tested positive for the coronavirus. For the last two weeks, a group of amazing organizers and I have been pressuring county officials to release everyone from Santa Rita Jail. Our latest estimate is that there are 2,171 people still in custody who are at grave risk of being infected by COVID-19.

    On Tuesday, March 31, 2020 the Board of Supervisors will vote on an $85 million proposal to hire hundreds of additional jail staff. With a global pandemic bearing down on us, it is unconscionable to overlook the needs of our dedicated frontline public health workers who have been begging for personal protective equipment and adequate staffing, while also continuing to hold thousands of people in custody.

  • Who we’re trying to get released — our Alameda County letter calls for the release of everyone. Read the letter here.

  • We got unions, including one who represents some of the health workers in Santa Rita Jail, to support our Alameda County work against the $85m money grab! Also, in another area of HIP’s work, we support this open letter specifically for health workers re: immigrant prisons in CA.

  • To get updates on our campaign, follow @ellabakercenter and @HumanImpact_HIP on twitter and follow #AuditAhern & #HealthNotPunishment


Justice LA (JLA):


Decarcerate Sacramento:


  • Decarcerate Sacramento demands letter + in graphic form

  • Medical community – demands letter

  • Disability Rights California (a law firm)– issued a demands letter [they recently sued the jail] 

  • Jail Support – call for donations, call for volunteers, flyer for those released


No New San Francisco Jail coalition, Shut Down 850 Bryant campaign:


Chicago Community Bond Fund

  • National Bail Fund Network COVID-19 response guide for bail funds (just an excellent resource to share, and CCBF contributed to it and used it to develop our demands): English (ly/NBFNCOVID19) and Spanish (bit.ly/NBFNCOVID19-SPANISH).

  • On who to advocate to get out: “Our position is that effective social distancing is impossible in jails and prisons. First, we have to reject “quarantine” inside since what it really means is solitary and punishment, which also makes people more vulnerable to medical neglect and other violence. So that is unacceptable. And even if incarcerated people are on lockdown or otherwise have their movement severely limited, the guards continue to move between spaces and between inside and the community, so the virus will be spread. Healthcare inside is also more limited, placing people at greater risk.


Californians United for a Responsible Budget (CURB)


Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP)

  • RAPP’s demands are HERE

  • Events, action items, etc. are on website, along with a huge number of press pieces reflecting the demand to release people. They haven’t had a chance to put up the newest batch yet, more coming! http://rappcampaign.com/press/

  • Family Members of Incarcerated New Yorkers and Advocates Host Virtual Press Conference to Announce COVID-19 Community Demands for People in New York State Prisons, March 30, 2020: watch here.

  • RAPP’s statement  responding to California’s release of 3,500 people, March 31, 2020: read and share here.


Care Not Cops PDX


Additional campaign materials shared during the call through chat box (not a comprehensive list of all the relevant organizing happening):

Regarding international solidarity:


Campaign on making calls free inside: 

Help families stay connected with loved ones behind bars during COVID-19, and beyond. The COVID-19 outbreak has highlighted a crisis that incarcerated people and their families have been living with for decades. As social distancing reminds us of the importance of communication, we must stand up for families who cannot afford it…Tell your elected officials to protect families and make prison and jail communication free now and forever: https://act.colorofchange.org/sign/connect-incarcerated-families-now-covid-19-coronavirus/?source=worthrises


Resisting ICE and Immigrant Detention

There’s an action happening for making calls on behalf of individual people in detention centers, #FlattenICE. Run by Asian Prisoners Support Committee. 

Resources from Dignity Not Detention Coalition participating organizations (includes California Immigrant Youth Justice AllianceFreedom for ImmigrantsImmigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC), Immigrant Defense Advocates, Immigrant Defense ProjectInland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ), Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, and others.)


Police State & Community Health in Time of COVID from Stop LAPD Spying
Power Not Paranoia – Zoom Webinar Series March 31st and April 2nd
Facebook Event Page

The National Security Police State always uses crisis like this to expand oppression, to expand surveillance, accumulate new weapons, push boundaries and justify its violence.  Join us at Stop LAPD Spying Coalition over Zoom for our Power Not Paranoia webinar series starting on Tuesday March 31 at 6 PM followed by Part 2 on Thursday April 2nd at 6 PM.