Three organizers from the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) – Lillian House, Eliza Lucero and Joel Northam – who were arrested on trumped up charges in connection with anti-racist protests in the US State of Colorado were released on Thursday, September 24. They were arrested last Thursday in Denver and spent a week in jail in unsafe and inhumane conditions and were denied their right to due process. One of their fellow organizers, Russel Ruch, was released earlier.
On Thursday, the judiciary in Colorado set the bonds of the three activists which once paid means that they can no longer be held in preventive detention. However, as of now, the District Attorney has not dropped the charges against the activists which range from felony charges of kidnapping and rioting to misdemeanors like disturbing the peace.
The PSL organizers denounced the sub-standard conditions endured by prison inmates. According to Lillian and Eliza, who were held in the women’s unit of the jail, supposed COVID-19 safety measures led to all inmates being held in isolation for 23 hours and 20 minutes. They often did not even get the 40 minutes of “out time” due to guards delaying proceedings.
All three also reported that they used the same mask and prison jumpsuit without getting time to shower the whole week. PSL and other organizations in the US have been raising awareness on the inhumane and unsafe conditions within prisons especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The arrested organizers were in the forefront demanding justice for Elijan McClain. 23-year-old was murdered by officers from the Aurora Police Department (a city next to Denver) on August 24, 2019. No police officers have been arrested for the murder till now and the DA Dave Young announced on June 25, 2020 that there was not enough evidence to rule McClain’s death a homicide and punish those involved in that line.
Over the week that they were held in jail, the activists received an outpouring of support from people’s movements, organizations and leftist political parties across the globe who denounced the political nature of the charges. Organizations from Morocco to South Africa and from Bangladesh to Ireland all denounced the criminalization of the mass anti-racist movements in the US. They also condemned the hypocrisy of slapping serious charges on activists who demand an end to policy impunity while the cops who have murdered people have not faced any repercussions.
The release of the activists came a day after the announcement that there will be no indictment of the Louisville police officers involved in the brutal murder of 27-year-old Breonna Taylor in March.