Goldsboro protesters concerned for city workers, Neuse Correctional inmates

Published: May. 12, 2020 at 10:16 PM EDT
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There were two protests Tuesday here in the east where they've had some of the largest numbers of coronavirus cases in our state.

Protesters demanded the release of prisoners from Neuse Correctional Institution, and hazard pay and PPE for city workers in Goldsboro.

Goldsboro City workers protested outside city hall, in hopes that the city manager would listen.

The community also demands the release of prisoners from Neuse correctional institution, the prison with the most coronavirus cases in our state.

City workers came together to demand proper PPE, hazard pay, staggered shifts and other safety measures and they say they’ve done this, since March.

“When you’re safe at your job and you know that you’re good and you know you’re able to be safe, you perform, you do your job, you do well, you don’t have to have that concern that you may bring something to your family,” said Bryce Carter, a protester.

According to a press release, on April 7th, 16 Public Works employees wore stickers saying “safe jobs save lives” to work and they signed a letter, along with 30 community supporter signatures, addressed to the city manager.

The protesters say to date, there has been no official response.

A city spokesperson released a statement Tuesday night saying, "The City of Goldsboro has taken several steps to ensure that our employees have a safe and healthy working environment, including providing appropriate PPE for employees, limiting public access to our facilities, offering telework arrangements, and installing hand sanitizer stations and social distancing signs throughout all our facilities."

Some of the same protesters at city hall were also protesting at Neuse Correctional, calling for the release of prisoners.

“Regardless of their crimes, they didn’t get a life sentence and so continuing to stay in those facilities and not having protection and having to combat, that’s like a death sentence,” said Sekia Royall, the organizer of the protest.

“I’m out here fighting for the brothers and sisters and all prisoners. The justice system across the board is wrong,” said Barbara Lyons, a protester.

Lyons even got a ticket for protesting out of her car, and not wearing a seatbelt.

The prison has had 467 people test positive for COVID-19, and had at least 3 deaths, according to the state. The state also says 427 inmates are presumed to be recovered.

Protesters want Governor Roy Cooper to free everyone incarcerated, saying that the decision to keep them locked up is a denial of basic human rights.

According to the Department of Public Safety, of the 642 individuals that tested positive at 11 prisons in our state, more than 500 have met the criteria to be able to come out of medical isolation.

The DPS also said more than ninety percent of prisoners at Neuse Correctional were asymptomatic.