Common said it’s important for people to remember that every life is valuable and that applies to those who are incarcerated.
He made that point while launching a new campaign called “#WeMatterToo” on Wednesday, May 13, through his criminal justice reform organization Imagine Justice. The Chicago rapper teamed with a large number of activist and advocacy groups for the cause.
He also shared a PSA that shows inmates talking about the dangerous conditions they have to endure behind bars during the spread of COVID-19. The clip is similar to a video posted this week by the Reform Alliance, the criminal justice reform organization founded by Jay-Z, Meek Mill and others.
Figures released last month by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons show that 70 percent of federal prison inmates who had been tested at that point for the novel coronavirus had contracted it.
So the goal of the “#WeMatterToo” campaign is to have those who’ve already served most of their sentence be released, particularly the people who have existing medical issues, since they can develop serious complications from the virus.
“Let this time show us that we are all interconnected,” wrote Common next to the video. “We have to be there for our vulnerable communities including our people who are currently incarcerated. Our fates are tied together so we must be courageous and act now.”
“I’m proud to launch #WeMatterToo today alongside 70+ organizations who have dedicated their time and energy to supporting our brothers and sisters currently in prisons, jails and detention centers around the country during this scary and uncertain time,” he added. “Every single life matters.”
In Common’s PSA, incarcerated people talk about not being given gloves, having to fill out medical forms after revealing they’re ill, and waiting a week until they get a response. One person said that showers are only cleaned either once a day in their prison or not at all.
“When you have officers that’s not trained to treat you like humans, automatically they put your health at risk,” said one of the inmates in the clip. “It makes me feel helpless.”