AUSTIN, Texas - Hundreds gathered on the grounds at the Texas capitol Saturday for two separate protests, both pertaining to COVID-19.
The first protest was the “Texas Freedom Rally.” Protestors called for any restrictions still in place due to COVID-19 to be lifted.
Shelley Luther was a keynote speaker. The Dallas salon owner made headlines when she was briefly jailed for operating her business, despite Governor Greg Abbott's previous executive order. Luther spent much of her time addressing the crowd, pushing to re-open schools.
“I really feel like they only wanna keep kids home because it's gonna keep you from going to work,” she told the crowd. “Do not let that happen. Our kids need to go to school and you guys need to fight for that please.”
While there is still a bit of uncertainty surrounding school reopening, the CDC has released guidelines to help schools with the process. June 1, Texas schools are permitted to operate summer school.
The second protest was comprised mainly of loved ones of those incarcerated in Texas. The protesters were calling on Governor Greg Abbott, and the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole to release thousands of inmates that are eligible and those approved for parole.
According to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, 2495 Texas inmates, and 758 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19. 1082 inmates and 181 staff members have recovered. 36 inmates have died and an additional 22 deaths are under investigation. Seven staff members have died.
“Parole not death row!” shouted protestors, in a chant led by Lovinah Igbani. Igbani helped organize the protest and says she wants inmates to leave prison on parole “rather than in a body bag.” Igbani, an alcohol and drug counselor was formerly incarcerated -- her fiancé is currently in prison. She says she is terrified, he will catch the virus.
Lucha Cabrera understands Igbani’s fear. Her husband, Marcos Cabrera has been in prison for robbery since age 18. Today, he is almost 34. In April he found out he was eligible for parole. But, the family says he has not been paroled, because of COVID-19.
“[I’m] the most worried about him out of the 14 years.” Lucha Cabrera explained.”
Cabrera, says last month, her husband came down with a fever. She hasn’t heard from him since.
“They just need to let him go, he got approved, he served his sentence,” she said.
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