I can hear my brothers claiming, ‘I can’t breathe!’ Now I’m in a struggle fighting and I can’t leave! We’re calling out injustice of the MDOC! And we ain’t gonna stop ‘til our people are free!”

This was the chant of around four hundred people Friday afternoon in front of the Mississippi Capitol at the corner of Mississippi and N. Congress Street.

Starting at 11:00, a prison reform rally led by Team ROC commenced as speakers from all around the country came to protest what they called “injustice.”

Along with Team ROC, groups like the Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition, the NAACP Youth and College, Color of Change, Reform, Until Freedom, and the Gathering for Justice helped sponsor the event. Other organizations also attended. They included Sisters of Hope, Strong Arm, the American Civil Liberties Union, Cooperation Jackson, and Israel United in Christ.

One protester, Angela Simpson Buckner had this to say about the situation:

Those in attendance didn’t hold back on their opinions of Governor Tate Reeves with many speakers blatantly saying, “Hey Tate, we know you lie… No justice, no peace.”

Erica Jackson, a former inmate whose husband is currently incarcerated at Parchman went on to talk about the Governor’s MDOC press conference earlier this week. She made claims that “he didn’t go in unit 29, because my husband’s in 29.”

She also said there is more damage to the cell block than Governor Reeves’ explanations would cover. In her opinion, much of the destruction within the unit 29 walls at MDOC is due to, “canines, and the officers when they come in there and they rip the whole wall down and the whole roof down looking for the contraband that they brought in there.

“Parchman was a plantation, a planation, and to this day it is still a planation,” said Jackson.

While most at the rally were anti-Republican, there was one person who stood out in the crowd – Noah Crosley, who identifies as a ‘life-long Republican’:

Other speakers included Representative Robert Johnson III (D-94) and other members of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus.

“This is a war, ladies and gentlemen,” said Representative Johnson, “It’s a war and it gets fought on every front… And we are damned doing it!”

Speaking of the majority of the Legislature, Johnson said that, “They’re gone home, but we’re here today and we’re here because we care and we’re about to do some war!”

Key speakers included: Lea Campbell of the Mississippi Poor People’s Campaign, Rukia Lumumba of the People’s Advocacy Institute (the sister of Mayor Chokwe Lumumba), and Big K.R.I.T., a hip-hop artist and native Mississippian.

The message of the rally was clear – shut down Parchman. They also called for lawmakers to increase funding to the Mississippi Department of Corrections and tackle the inside corruption.

Stone Clanton, Reporter for Y’all Politics