FCI Englewood, a federal prison in Jefferson County that's the site of one of the worst COVID outbreaks in Colorado, will experience another kind of outbreak on December 31, when activists plan to hold a "New Year's Eve Noise Demo" outside the facility.
An outbreak of sound.
"You can anticipate abolitionist, anti-prison and leftist chanting," explains Mary Reeves, an organizer affiliated with Denver Communists. "You can participate with noisemakers of any kind. There will probably be confetti. The typical things you would expect at a New Year's Eve party. But this is not a party, because there's nothing really to celebrate in a country like this."
The protesters will include members of "a lot of autonomous groups all over the Front Range," she adds. "We think it's really important to get together along with all of the other leftist organizations, anarchist comrades and prison abolitionists and...do a loud noise demonstration for the prisoners in this correctional facility to show that we are out there. We want them to hear us and show that we're standing in solidarity with them, especially with the political prisoners that are in there."
The protesters will have a few key demands, including the abolition of prisons and the release of Eric King, an anarchist who is serving a ten-year sentence for throwing Molotov cocktails at a congressional office in Kansas City, Missouri.
"We are doing this in support of him. We feel like he is being unfairly locked up and held as a political prisoner," says Reeves, who notes that neither King nor his legal team is involved with the protest. The Federal Bureau of Prisons declined to comment on the action.
Protesters also want to bring attention to COVID concerns at the federal prison in Jefferson County, whose high-profile inmates had included former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich until earlier this year.
At one point in early December, 650 out of the 900 inmates at FCI Englewood had COVID-19; it was the biggest outbreak in the federal prison system at that time. Additionally, 55 of the 251 staffers there had tested positive for COVID.
"People are dying of this horrible disease. And if you haven't done anything wrong, especially if you've done stuff that Eric has allegedly done, like damage to property, why are you being locked up there and at risk of dying from this disease?" asks Reeves.