Durham, NC – Protesters chained themselves to the gateway of a North Carolina detention center on Thursday and demanded that the facility release black people so they can be with their families for Mother’s Day.
The protest took place outside the Durham County Detention Center, after an “activist” group, Southerners On New Ground (SONG), posted bail for six women who were in jail pending trial, WNCN reported.
“On this day, we are bailing out Black mamas and caregivers because cannot afford bail and also to intervene on the malicious criminal legal system that targets and cages our loved ones,” the group said in a statement. “We have bailed out as many as we could and more Black mamas and caregivers went in.”
SONG boasted that it has reunited “dozens of Black families in Durham,” and demanded that city leaders abolish the cash bail system.
“We are chaining ourselves to the entrance of the Durham county jail,” SONG declared. “We call for the city and county of Durham to stop caging Black mothers and caregivers before Mother’s Day and end money bail and pre-trial detention.”
Using cables and locks, SONG organizers Serena Sebring and Kyla Hartfield chained themselves to the gate that officers use to bring prisoners in and out of the facility, The News & Observer reported.
Approximately 20 protesters stood outside with them, intermittently chanting and waving at inmates inside the facility.
“You let every black mama in that jail out, [and] we’ll unlock ourselves right now,” Sebring told a sheriff’s deputy at one point.
Protester Grace Nichols said that holding suspects in jail before they are convicted is an “unjust” practice, akin to “ransom,” WNCN reported.
“Folks are stuck in jails because they can’t afford to get out, not because they’ve actually been convicted of a crime,” Nichols said.
She said that the courts should do more to assess suspects’ needs – such as childcare or unreliable transportation to court – instead of focusing on the risks they pose to others, The News & Observer reported.
The protesters eventually unchained themselves after deciding they didn’t want to be chained to the gate overnight.
Kayla ONeill Hartsfield, 25, and Serena Elysa Sebring Wadlington, 41, were charged Friday with public disturbance, second-degree trespass and failure to disperse, according to WRAL.
They did not have to pay cash bail, but were released on an unsecured $2,000 bond, which is a promise to pay if they fail to appear in court.