Protesters gather to oppose Sheriff Hodgson, prison conditions
Protestors outside the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office are becoming a familiar sight for drivers on Faunce Corner Road.
The latest round of protests, held on September 8, was organized largely by FIRE Boston, a group whose name is an acronym for “Fight for Im/migrants and Refugees Everywhere.” It was also supported by several unions, and in solidarity with the national prison strike.
Protesters echoed ongoing concerns about the conditions inside the jail, the treatment of inmates by jail staff, and the working conditions imposed on incarcerated people.
Sheriff Thomas Hodgson was standing by, along with nearly a dozen deputies and state police officers who were guarding the entrances to the jail.
“We’re always here to listen,” Hodgson said. “We have no problem with people protesting. This is America.”
He also said he was there to look out for misinformation and to monitor the security of the jail.
Protesters, however, noted he often seemed to be laughing or making faces while listening to the protestors speak.
“What kind of message is he giving us?” asked Bishop Filipe Teixeira. “Standing there, making faces. We’re here telling the story.”
Teixeira emphasised the huge number of incarcerated people in the United States, and said that they should be freed.
“They’re on strike,” Edward Childs, a steward of the Hotel and Restaurant Workers Union, said. “As workers, we support that. Every worker who wants to protest their conditions should be supported,”
He emphasized that incarcerated people have a right to organize into unions, as do all workers.
“The prisoners’ demands are more than reasonable,” said Domingo, a member of FANG Collective, who staged a recent protest at the jail. He is also a member of the Incarcerated Worker’s Organizing Committee. His biggest message is that the Sheriff’s Office should meet the demands of the prisoners, which go beyond working conditions to quality of life.
Domingo also said that one of the primary audiences for these protests are the people currently incarcerated, and invited incarcerated people and the friends and family of people in jail to write to the Committee at their P.O. Box #27913, Providence, RI, 02907.
The protest was also in support of the National Prison Strike. The demands of the National Strike can be read at the strike’s website, www.incarceratedworkers.org.