Jillian Primiano is a frontline nurse, and Rebecca Margolies is a teacher. They are both Left Voice collaborators who were doing jail support for the hundreds of people arrested at tonight’s Black Lives Matter protests. Specifically, they were doing jail support for Mike Pappas, a frontline doctor and Left Voice reporter who was arrested while working as a medic during a march in the Bronx. In a video, Jillian and Rebecca can be seen telling the arresting officer that they were doing jail support and showing him a letter certifying their right to be out past curfew. The officer refuses to read the letter, saying “I don’t know what [jail support] is” and puts both women in handcuffs. Hours later, both were released and given a summons to criminal court.
Jail support is a vital part of any protest, especially when the police are making mass arrests. Jail support volunteers stay in contact with legal aid, follow where arrested people have been sent, and then help get them home once they are released. This role is especially important during the curfew with car services banned, Citibikes suspended, and access to subways severely limited. In fact, jail support volunteers are exempted from the curfew. This makes the arrest even more indefensible and even more obviously an attack on the democratic rights of protesters.
The NYC curfew was ordered by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and is being implemented by Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio. Since it first went into effect, the NYPD have used it to brutally repress protesters. Indeed, as the arrest of the two exempt Left Voice correspondents shows, the rules of the curfew are subject to enforcement at the whims of the NYPD. This is why, night after night, thousands have taken the streets to defy the curfew. Hours before being arrested, Jillan (along with fellow arrested protester Mike Pappas) demonstrated holding a sign that read “The Curfew Protects Capital, Not People. Nurses See NYPD Beat Protesters After Dark.” We as Left Voice stand with the protesters and denounce the repressive curfew.
Healthcare workers were being called heroes only a month ago for battling coronavirus with inadequate PPE and in overcrowded hospitals. Now, those same healthcare workers are being arrested by the NYPD while they are serving patients.
In an interview with Left Voice, Jillian said, “We’ve been helping people who have been hurt by the cops in the streets. We’ve seen broken hands, concussions and heard of people beaten who were standing peacefully… I am here because I have seen these cops hurt my patients. I know what cops do to people, especially Black people.”
We demand the immediate dropping of all charges against Jillian and Rebecca, as well as the immediate release of Mike Pappas and all other arrested protesters. Every arrested protester must be released and all charges must be dropped.