Two women shackled themselves to a gate at the Durham County Detention Center on Thursday to protest against the bail system.
Several dozen supporters joined them outside the jail as more than a dozen deputies watched the demonstration.
The women said they are members of the group Southerners On New Ground (SONG). The group says it collected money and posted bail for six women who are awaiting trial dates, so the women can spend Mother’s Day with the children on Sunday.
“Folks are stuck in jails because they can’t afford to get out, not because they’ve actually been convicted of a crime,” Grace Nichols said. “We would like to bring attention to this ransom and show folks that it is unjust.”
Several people inside the jail held up handwritten notes to the windows of their cells as supporters chanted “We see you! We love you!”
Deputies closed Pettigrew Street between Mangum Street and Roxboro shortly after 1 p.m. as a result of the protest. It remained closed as a crowd arrived at the neighboring Durham Performing Arts Center for a performance of Beautiful – The Carole King Musical.
The Durham County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to CBS 17’s request for comment, but a deputy posted on social media, “We are assessing the situation and will work for a safe conclusion.”
In a statement issued to CBS 17, SONG leaders wrote:
“On this day, we are bailing out Black mamas and caregivers because cannot afford bail and also to intervene on the malicious criminal legal system that targets and cages our loved ones. We have bailed out as many as we could and more Black mamas and caregivers went in. After diligent courtwatch, outreach, long campaign work and reuniting dozens of Black families in Durham, we are chaining ourselves to the entrance of the Durham county jail. We call for the city and county of Durham to stop caging Black mothers and caregivers before Mother’s Day and end money bail and pre-trial detention.”