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Set for Washington, D.C.

Dick Gregory supports protest for Scott sisters

Published Jun 10, 2010 12:43 PM

An important demonstration is scheduled for June 21 in Washington, D.C., to help bring national attention to the Scott sisters’ case. Gladys and Jamie Scott have been unjustly imprisoned since October 1994 for the “crime” of stealing $11 from a store in Scott County, Mississippi.

Jaime Scott

The African-American sisters received life sentences following their convictions, which once again reflect the ongoing, heinous legacy of slavery in the U.S., especially in the South.  Neither sister had a prior criminal record nor did any violence occur in the December 1993 robbery. In fact, witnesses and even the alleged robbery victims stated during the trial that the sisters were not involved in the robbery. All their appeals proving their innocence have been denied, including by the U.S. Supreme Court.

When the Scott sisters were sent to the Central Mississippi Correctional Facility, they were both healthy women. However, over the many years of being exposed to inhumane living conditions in the prison as well as the total lack of healthy food, Jamie Scott has developed stage 5 kidney failure, which requires dialysis. The next stage is death. She has been rushed to the hospital numerous times as a result of the terrible prison medical care.

Gladys Scott

Nancy Lockhart, a paralegal who is a supporter of the Scott sisters, received a letter this May from Jamie Scott on life in prison where she stated: “I have witnessed many inmates die at the hands of this second-rate medical care. I do not want to be one of them.”

The June 21 daylong protest is being organized by the Gray-Haired Witnesses for Justice to put pressure on the federal government to force Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour to release the Scott sisters from prison immediately. A 10 a.m. fast will take place at the office of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, followed by a press conference in front of the White House at noon, with a formal appeal to President Obama. Then at Lafayette Square Park from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m., there will be a program of speakers and cultural performances.

Dick Gregory, long-time civil rights activist and comedian, has given public support to the June 21 action. In a June 3 press release, Gregory stated, “This is one of the worst cases I have ever heard of in my life. My jaw dropped when I read that these women have been in prison for almost 16 years and aren’t even charged with laying a hand on anyone! This country should be embarrassed to have such a blatant travesty of justice exist while wagging our finger at people abroad for human rights abuses. What we have going on here is the epitome of cruel and unusual punishment and is outrageous, even for Mississippi!”

The Gray-Haired Witnesses are calling on all people of good will to join them on that day and demand justice for the Scott sisters and an end to the “oversentencing, degradation and dehumanization of Black women in this system and nation as a whole.” A bus will be traveling from Mississippi to Washington, D.C., for the protest.  For more information about the Scott sisters’ case and support that is needed for the June 21 demonstration, visit www.freethescottsisters.blogspot.com.