Car Rally Protesters to Santa Clara Co. Jails: ‘Free Them All’

About 200 people joined a caravan of cars Thursday to circle the San Jose Main Jail Thursday and demand the release of incarcerated friends and family, to keep them safe from the COVID-19 outbreak, which has already infected several local inmates.

Led by Silicon Valley De-Bug, the rally of least 50 vehicles honked as they made their way from the nonprofit’s Lenzen Avenue headquarters to the block that houses the San Jose Police Department and Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office and sits across from the District Attorney’s Office on West Hedding Street.

“This is a national movement of historic proportions and you are here to make history,” De-Bug founder Raj Jayadev told protesters at the start of the protest.

Their mission: to get their incarcerated loved freed from the county’s two jails, which house thousands of medically fragile people particularly prone to the coronavirus.

Scores of young people took part in the rally. (Photo courtesy of Silicon Valley De-Bug)

Other organizations, including the Young Women’s Freedom Center and the Santa Clara County Public Defender’s Office, joined the demonstration.

Jayadev thanked attendees, especially the youngest protesters, many of whom attended on behalf of incarcerated youth they want released. “Because of our support and their fight, when this thing is said and done, there’s going to be a new San Jose, there’s going to be a new Santa Clara, there’s going to be a new America that does not keep people in cages and separates families,” Jayadev told the gathering. “And it starts today.”

Hours before the caravan, jail officials announced that three local inmates have tested positive for COVID-19 since last week. Protesters cited the news—as well as past documented abuses at the county jails—as evidence that the county is unfit to handle such a disease outbreak.

Masks and signs demanded the county to #FreeThemAll. (Photo courtesy of Silicon Valley De-Bug)

An inmate who jailed since May 9 was housed in one of the Main Jail’s nine isolation units after officials confirmed on May 23 that he had COVID-19. Another 24 inmates in that same isolation housing were also tested; authorities say the results were negative.

Another inmate confirmed on Tuesday to have COVID-19 had been locked up for over a year in a minimum-security cell at the Elmwood Correctional Facility in Milpitas. The following day, a fellow Elmwood ward who’d been jailed since May 3 also tested positive.

Since then, over 300 inmates at Elmwood have reportedly been tested. Sheriff officials said the jail has rehoused inmates potentially exposed to the virus.

Many of the participants said they have friends and family locked up inside. (Photo courtesy of Silicon Valley De-Bug)

“We have taken significant measures throughout our agency to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and we are working closely with Santa Clara County Public Health Department and Custody Health Services to expedite testing for all employees and inmates,” the Sheriff’s Office told news reporters in a statement earlier this week. “The Sheriff’s Office remains committed to protecting the health and safety of those in our custody, our staff and our community.”

While several inmates have been released from county jails and been placed on house arrest since April, protesters said those measures are not enough. They demanded more—if not all of those on the inside—to be released.

The rally kicked off with a gathering outside the jail. (Photo courtesy of Silicon Valley De-Bug)

“It’s no surprise to us that the system is not working,” De-Bug organizer and former inmate Jose Valle said. “We’ve been trying to free our people, [and] in light of the coronavirus, it’s really showing that these places are not fit to house people. It’s a burden on our tax dollars, it’s a burden on real public safety.”

Deputy Public Defender Lori Stuart, who spoke before the rally, echoed that sentiment.

“Know that your public defenders are fighting for you,” she said. “We care about you, we see you, we are alongside you, we know what’s happening is not OK. They are making it hard for us to talk to people and get information. Reach out to us. This partnership is important. Together we are stronger. Free them all.”

A couple-hundred people took part in the car caravan. (Photo courtesy of Silicon Valley De-Bug)


  1. After looking at the IRS tax filings from Silicon Valley De-Bug it seems its director, Raj Jayadev, makes a nice living from this so called non-profit.

    Just saying

  2. > Car Rally Protesters to Santa Clara Co. Jails: ‘Free Them All’

    HA HA HA HA!

    These politically correct, socially isolating, mask wearing tribal doofusses want their co-tribalists let out of County jail so they can be incarcerated in Sara Cody’s “shelter-in-place” jail.

    At least in the county slammer, poverty lawyers will force non-diverse white people will deliver their meals to them.

  3. Oh how I love it. Turn the criminal loose and lock up the storekeepers, barbers and nail salon owners. Next we get 125% turnout for mail in ballots. Next you have El Governor for Life.

  4. Silicon Valley Debug

    Lumpenprols… you do not want the world this mindset imagines

    Open the schools, open the businesses, keep the criminals in jail.

  5. Protect your people. To me that means protect all of us who have not committed crimes from those who have committed crimes. Who’s going to protect us from the jailbirds if they are released?
    On the positive side, at least these protesters didn’t loot stores or burn cars and the jail.

  6. From the article: “While several inmates have been released from county jails and been placed on house arrest since April, protesters said those measures are not enough. They demanded more—if not all of those on the inside—to be released.”

    The daily jail population went from around 3,300 to around 2,100. That’s quite a few more than “several.” The idea that Silicon Valley DBug thinks that nearly everyone should be released shows you how incredibly ridiculous their position is. Many journalists will say that it is not their job to give a voice to the insane fringe, yet that seems like what we’re reading here. Jayadev makes noise because that’s what keep the funds flowing, not because he is the voice of reason.

  7. It is sad to see De Bug condoning criminal behavior and making excuses for inmates. I wish they will focus on calling for young people to get education and work hard and not make excuses for them.

  8. I want to be part of the free them all . My son’s at the Main Jail and I miss him so much I’m afraid for his safety of the coronavirus. Santa Clara county is so corrupted .

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