Dia de los Muertos in San Francisco …

Tin foil birds over Dia de los Muertos altar in San Francisco.On a rainy evening in San Francisco, thousands of people joined the annual Dia de los Muertos procession which ended in Garfield Park in San Francisco’s Mission district. There, under a large, leafy tree decorated with dozens of handmade tin foil birds was a beautiful altar dedicated to the many women who have died in California’s prisons, many from medical neglect. Pictures of Patty Contreras, Charisse Shumate, Gina Muñiz, Sherrie Chapman and many others were lit up by candles. Each picture was surrounded by flowers, sugar skulls, pan del muerto and the woman’s favorite objects – from chocolate bars to cigarettes. Throughout the evening people stopped to gaze at the display. Many stayed to talk, ask questions and find out how they could become involved in the effort to stop the gross health care violations inside the prisons. All were clearly moved by this loving memorial which honored not only the women but also the families who suffered such horrible losses.
The altar was done in collaboration with the women inside who sent photos, memorials from the prison chapel, and their own memories of their sisters inside. On the outside, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, Justice Now, Out of Control Lesbian Committee for Women Prisoners, California Prison Focus, and community artists worked with family members to make the altar a reality.