Caravan of vehicles protests COVID-19 outbreaks at Chino state prisons

Daily Bulletin

By NATHANIEL PERCY | | Daily Breeze
PUBLISHED: May 23, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. | UPDATED: May 23, 2020 at 6:14 p.m.

Former California Institution for Women (CIW) in Corona inmate Michelle Garcia hangs out the window of a vehicle as she protests and takes part in the “Car Caravan Protest” outside the California Institution for Men (CIM) in Chino Saturday afternoon May 23, 2020. The group of approximately 100 people also protested outside of CIW in Corona to highlight ongoing COVID-19 outbreaks at both prisons and to call for the compassionate release of incarcerated people in response to the deadly epidemic.
(Photo by Will Lester, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin/SCNG)

A caravan of several dozen vehicles made stops in front of the California Institution for Men and California Institution for Women prisons in Chino, where family members of inmates and advocates protested conditions inside the facilities as COVID-19 cases continued to mount Saturday, May 23.

At both locations, protesters got out of their cars to bring awareness and to call on officials for the compassionate release of vulnerable inmates, said Geri Silva, one of the caravan’s organizers.

Protesters planned to use body bags and other props to protest what they called the preventable deaths at the men’s prison and what they called consequences of inaction at the women’s prison, organizers said.

Many people hung signs out their vehicle doors and windows.

The two institutions had two of the three highest totals among state prisons for confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Saturday. The men’s prison had 457 active cases while the women’s prison had 118, according to data released by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

To date, six inmates have died at the Chino men’s prison, representing the only deaths of inmates in CDCR custody, according to the CDCR data.

Nine inmates had been released from the men’s prison after testing postive.

Cases at the Chino women’s prison had skyrocketed this month after two waves of testing on May 8 and May 12. The CDCR had reported 118 active cases at the women’s prison as of noon Saturday. None of those inmates have died.

The caravan lasted about 90 minutes. Organizers gathered at Ruben S. Ayala Park in Chino and made their way to CIM about 12:10 p.m., Silva said. From there, the caravan went to CIW and most vehicles made their way back to the park about 1:40 p.m.