Originally published on 05.13.20 by TORCHLIGHT,
an anarchist news website based here in Pittsburgh
Photos stolen from City Paper
Yesterday [05.12.20] a caravan of almost 30 vehicles circulated downtown, demanding that Allegheny County Jail release prisoners, especially Black mothers, in light of the ongoing Covid19 pandemic. The action was organized by Dignity Act of PA. Protesters hung signs from their cars and honked as they circled the City-County Building beside the county courthouse. After about a half hour there, the caravan headed over to Allegheny County Jail, where they stopped in front until the cops ordered them to move and started handing out tickets. Organizers then held a press conference.
Corporate media coverage was typically sparse, again, in comparison to the flood of coverage given to the right-wing astroturfed “reopen” protests last month. Only City Paper and KDKA Radio reported on the caravan.
Inside the jail, little has changed. The jail’s oversight board recently voted not to do universal testing for coronavirus. Last week Chelsa Wagner, the county controller, wrote a blistering op-ed in the Post-Gazette calling out county executive Rich Fitzgerald for lack of transparency, and questioning the testing priorities of UPMC and county officials.
Currently, jail testing data indicates 28 out of 59 prisoners have tested positive, a 45% rate. This is actually lower than the 56% from a couple of weeks ago, raising the suspicion that the jail is manipulating the numbers downward somehow. Given the crowded conditions and the number of symptomatic individuals reported to be inside, it is very unlikely that the true positive rate is going down.