Protest outside Fresno County Jail calls for more testing, protection for inmates and officers

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FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) — A group gathered outside the Fresno County Jail on Thursday, demanding better protection for inmates and officers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What we want to make sure is that our officers, as well as these inmates, are safe because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what they did, they’re still human,” said organizer Vanessa Ponce.

Inmates inside the jail saw the support and knocked on the windows in response as protesters chanted, “Keep on knocking!”

After an outbreak was discovered at the jail last month, more than 1,200 quarantined inmates were tested for COVID-19.

So far, 643 inmates tested positive, 532 inmates tested negative and 27 test results are still pending.

“We’re going to focus on our negatives after this, which we have over 500. We’ll want to re-test those, see who comes positive out of that, and then keep doing that cycle until we can eventually widdle it down to zero,” said Fresno County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Tony Botti.

Botti said they’re working with the health department to see if they can conduct more widespread testing for all jail staff and inmates.

Protesters said regular testing is necessary for the safety of everyone inside the building.

“We will be here, we’ll continue to be here, we’ll continue to protest, and we’ll continue to fight for the rights of these inmates and these officers,” said Ponce.

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