State Watch

Protesters chain themselves to gate outside Newsom’s home to call for release of prisoners

California police on Monday arrested around a dozen protesters who chained themselves to the front gate of a house owned by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in Fair Oaks, Calif., over the transfer of prisoners to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

A spokesman with the California Highway Patrol told the Sacramento Bee that 10-14 demonstrators would be arrested for trespassing. Those arrested reportedly included undocumented activists as well as immigrant rights attorneys.

“There was 10 to 14 people that were chained to themselves and the gate that were obstructing public access,” Greg Zumstein, CHP public information officer, told the newspaper. “All of those people are going to be arrested for trespassing.”

The protests come amid rising numbers of new coronavirus cases in the state and outbreaks specifically occurring in detention facilities within California including the San Quentin State Prison, where 537 cases of the virus are currently active among inmates and more than 2,600 cases have been confirmed since the beginning of the pandemic.

Activists are also calling for mass clemency for many inmates in the state, arguing that the ongoing coronavirus pandemic is endangering their lives in the prisons’ close quarters.

“Gov. Newsom, you are responsible for the COVID crisis that’s happening in prisons and jails,” said one demonstrator, according to the Sacramento Bee. “You must act now to save lives.” 

Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the arrests or the activists’ demands from The Hill.

Dozens of state and local leaders called on Newsom to halt the transfer of undocumented immigrants to ICE officials in an open letter released in early July.

Updated at 10:35 a.m. on 7/28 to correctly reflect infection numbers in San Quentin State Prison.

Tags California Coronavirus COVID-19 Gavin Newsom ICE Immigration undocumented immigrants

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