Activists and politicians gathered outside San Quentin State Prison on Thursday demanding the governor release more prisoners amid the COVID-19 crisis.
In doing so, they relayed messages from some of the more than 1,300 inmates who are infected.
Shawanda Scott goes by Mama Bear. She has son in San Quentin.
Outside the gates, she gave a tearful plea.
James King was once incarcerated at the infamous prison and is now a campaigner with the Ella Baker Center For Human Rights. He read a statement from Thanh Tran, who is sick inside.
"This is serious stuff (with the) prospect of people reoffending," the governor said in a news conference Thursday afternoon.
He said he’s working to reduce the overcrowded prison to just under 100% capacity. It's over 130% capacity now. State data shows 1,320 inmate infections and seven deaths related to COVID-19 within the walls of San Quentin. Several staff have also been stricken with the virus.
"What I can’t do is release people to the streets and sidewalks and call that compassion," he said. "(It’s) not something that i will do. I want to make sure that people have support when they get out."
State Sen. Scott Weiner, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin, and Assemblymembers Rob Bonta and Marc Levine were among those in attendance at Thursday's event outside the prison.