Baltimore — Marlyn Barnes would have turned 32 years old on May 14 if he had not died in custody at the Harford County Detention Center last year. The jail claims he committed suicide, but his family has not gotten the answers they need from the authorities, and they continue to fight for truth and justice in his case.
The number of reported suicide deaths at Harford County jail is alarming. In April, another prisoner allegedly died as a result of suicide.
The Barnes family and the Prisoners Solidarity Committee of the Peoples Power Assembly have continued to press for answers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and to amplify the demands of prisoners locked up in Maryland jails, who have demanded personal protective equipment (PPE), adequate showers, soap, hand sanitizer and much more.
On May 14, the Barnes family, and PSC and PPA supporters drove a block-long car caravan to the Baltimore City jail complex to underscore the demand to #FreeThemAll. When the caravan reached the jail, prisoners shouted out of their cell windows thanking them.
The caravan then traveled as a procession to the home of Marlyn Barnes’ mother and to the nearby Gwynn Oak Park, a designated civil rights site where a historic protest against segregation took place in 1963. Family members had gathered at the park for a social-distance commemoration of Marlyn Barnes. They lit 32 candles and raised balloons in his honor.
Cars were not only decorated with signs and banners declaring “Justice for Marlyn Barnes,” “Free Them All,” and demanding PPE and testing for prisoners, but also calling for “Justice for Ahmaud Arbery!”
Andre Powell of the Prisoners Solidarity Committee stated, “Everywhere we drove, we were received with enthusiastic support — people clapping, raising fists and shouting ‘Yes!’”
SLL photos: Sharon Black