Protestors Concerned About COVID-19 Regulations in Tuscaloosa County Jail
By WVUA 23 News Reporter Mattie Davis
Protesters gathered outside the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse concerned about the current COVID-19 regulations in the Tuscaloosa County Jail.
Protesters said they are concerned about a number of ongoing issues including the lack of inmate COVID-19 data and protective measures being taken inside the county jail. In July, the Southern Poverty Law Center requested public information regarding COVID-19 safety protocols and statistics in the Tuscaloosa County Jail. After multiple attempts, they filed a lawsuit to compel Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy to respond. Since then, no official records have been released.
Saturday, a group protested that the department is not being transparent when it comes to COVID-19 in the jail.
“We have a COVID dashboard for the county and the city schools,” Tuscaloosa County resident Mike Altman said. “We should have a COVID dashboard for the jail.”
Protest organizer Maggie Yancey said the group is giving a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves.
“We are also aware of this lawsuit and it is not okay,” Yancy said.
The group marched the front of the courthouse and around the building shouting, “Release the data, release the people, release the truth!”
Protesters said concern comes from real stories from the community.
“We had an individual who joined our protest today who was in the jail back in September who said, yes, it is scary, and it is dangerous in there,” Yancey said.
Protesters said they believe the jail is overcrowded, under-regulated and does not use or have enough personal protective equipment.
“If COVID-19 has taught us anything in this country, in this state, in this county, it’s that we are all much more connected than we think,” Altman said. “And this jail is more connected to everyone in this county than they think.”
They believe the data is necessary to protect the inmates and the community.
“All of those people within the jail end up ultimately going out into our communities and spreading COVID to what we don’t even know what the degree is,” Yancey said. “We need to look into the data and see what we need to do to improve the conditions of the jail to make sure it’s safe, not only for the people in the jail but for the people of Tuscaloosa.”
Protesters said the protest was the first step to the change they want, and the next step is actually getting that data.