For four generations, my family has felt the pain from the generational curse of prison,” eleven-year-old Nicholas Elijah Evans told a group gathered outside the Arapahoe County Justice Center, in Centennial Colorado for the first National Day of Freedom and Justice. “You would think my family is full of bad people, but we are not…my dad is locked up because we are poor, not because he is a criminal.”
Saturday, August 22nd marked the first annual national day of freedom and justice event. Organizers Janet Lee, whose prison-reform activism began when her son, Justin Honeycutt, was incarcerated as a juvenile, and Tracy “Tray” Feagan, who is serving life in a federal prison in Atlanta on a drug charge, spent months organizing this event, which they hope to make annual. They had one goal, to “bring awareness to America’s mass incarceration epidemic,” and more than 60,000 people joined in around the world. . Centennial Colorado was one of the city participants Hosted by Aurora business owner Jasmine Sade.
“It is just the right thing to do,” Lee replied when asked why she’d taken on the project by weed blogger Jeff Eichen on last week’s Weed Wednesdays podcast, where she appeared alongside a panel of activists including Amy Povah with the CANDO foundation. In states such as Oklahoma and Georgia, activists such as Damita Bishop with the F.A.I.R. organization, held rallies outside their governor’s mansions; other states, such as Arkansas, saw protests in the streets. Organizers in Florida hosted “Beat the Heat,” where people were challenged to sit in an un-air-conditioned cell for just three minutes, rather than the 24 hours a day most prisoners must endure.
The organizers highlighted the cases of inmates like Lance Gloor, who was given a ten-year federal sentence for running a legal dispensary in Seattle. Participants in Colorado’s event held “Free Lance Gloor” signs. They also listened to people tell stories of their loved ones. Karen Hernandez had her family by her side as she talked about her husband, Colorado inmate Salvador Herrera, who was scheduled to be released this month but because of a disciplinary write-up will not go back up for parole until April 2021. Lee says she wants Americans to “open their eyes to the injustices that go on daily behind prison walls.” She and Feagan promise to bring the National Day of Freedom and Justice to every state every year until America switches the trend from “mass incarceration to mass de-incarceration.”
“It’s our hope that there will be more clemencies for current inmates, compassionate releases, etc.,” Lee says. “I want the people to be educated on the injustices of our criminal justice system. People need to VOTE for people who are willing to address these issues and lobby for laws that will positively affect our people. Most importantly, I want people behind the walls to KNOW they are not alone. We will forever fight for them! Their voices are important, and we want what they have to say, be heard” Janet Lee invites everyone to check out organizations like Mission Green, The CanDo foundation and FreedomGrowForever.org because ‘these are the types of organizations helping American family members get their loved one’s home from incarceration.”
With America leading the world in mass incarceration, protests like the National Day of Freedom and Justice will help bring awareness.
August 22 marked a stop on a journey to freedom so many Colorado residents and many other Americans seek for their loved ones behind bars.
Amberly Taylor is a 35yr old human rights activist. She volunteers for various non profits Like FreedomGrowForever.org and stands FIRM on SUPPORTING BLM and Civil Rights Movements