On May 25, the world watched a Minneapolis police officer kill George Floyd, kneeling on the 46-year-old’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds until George died. On May 26, we watched as the people of Minneapolis took to the streets, demanding justice for George and the many other Black men and women killed by police over the years.
May 26 was just the beginning. In the weeks since, brave people in cities and towns across the country have joined marches, held vigils alongside their neighbors to call for an end to systemic racism and police brutality.
However, people are taking a great risk in exercising their First Amendment rights to protest — not least of all, the risk of arrest.
There is no good time to be arrested, but the continued spread of the COVID-19 pandemic makes this moment worse. Jails and prisons remain hotbeds for the virus, as the same challenges to social distancing and cleanliness remain. In San Quentin prison, for example, about a third of people incarcerated in the facility have contracted COVID-19 in an outbreak that spread wildly in a matter of days.
No one should be held in jail because they don’t have enough money for bail, and especially not now when we know the dire public health risks that incarceration poses to our broader community.
Represent Justice is honored to have been able to help keep people out of jail in the face of this public health crisis. With the help of contributions from the public, we were able to donate $20,000 to be split between the LGBTQ Freedom Fund and a network of community bail funds across the country.
We chose to direct $10,000 to the LGBTQ Freedom Fund specifically because LGBTQ people face disproportionate challenges in the justice system — they are three times more likely to be incarcerated than heterosexual people, more likely to be low-income and more likely to be sexually assaulted while in prison.