Motorcade protesters in Madison demand release of inmates amid COVID-19

MADISON, Wis. — Members of the Madison chapter for the Party for Socialism and Liberation hosted a motorcade demonstration Saturday demanding the release of inmates at the Dane County Jail during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 25 cars circled the area near the jail in the city’s downtown with people honking in protest and chanting “free them all” from the safety of their vehicles.

Protest organizers said the treatment of those incarcerated amid the spread of coronavirus has been inhumane — urging for the release of elderly inmates, and the expansion of healthcare and virus testing for those in jail.

“It’s negligent that people are in prison now during the pandemic especially when infections rates are so high–especially in prisons and jails throughout the country not just in Wisconsin,” said one PSL member.

Demonstrators are also calling for the elimination of cash bail, and court mandated in check-ins and appearances.

Earlier this week Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahony said the jail — in addition to extreme cleaning and disinfecting–has taken measures to protect it’s inmates and staff.

“We continue to work with our law enforcement partners from time of arrest — with law enforcement to find alternatives to placing a non-violent individual into jail, to our courts determining bail and probation and parole on revocation,” he added.

Mahoney also said the inmate population has already decreased by the hundreds to allow for more distancing inside.

PSL organizer Sawyer Johnson said for the people incarcerated and their families this isn’t enough.

“What we’re hearing from people on the inside is that they’re not using those extra cleaning supplies and staff on the inside of the jail aren’t wearing masks or cloves.” Johnson said. “So we the public are being told one thing and then what’s actually happening from elites in Dane County — like circuit court judges — is quite another thing.'”

Protesters hope their presence on Saturday will help those inside the jail know they’re not alone.