Nebraska Activist Groups Announce Weekend Solidarity Vigil At The State Capitol

May 28, 2020 - 4:48pm

Several activist groups across Nebraska have announced plans for a drive-by demonstration at the state capitol on Sunday afternoon.


According to a recent statement from organizers, speakers from Solidarity with Packing Plant Workers, Freedom Restored, and Las Voces will address groups hard-hit by COVID-19 like meatpacking workers, communities of color, native communities, incarcerated people, and the elderly.

"Nebraska political officials have failed to adequately test these populations," wrote Will Avilés of the activist group Solidarity with Packing Plant Workers.

"They have withheld crucial information about the number of cases in specific locations. They have focused on communicating how many open hospital beds there are when they should have been regulating this public health crisis."

Many advocate groups say Nebraska's Latino population in particular has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. 

While state officials have promised statewide demographic case data by June 1st, the Douglas County Health Department has already released some data showing stark impacts on the area's Latino community.

As of last week, about 13 percent of Douglas County's population is Latino, but 47 percent of the county's COVID-19 cases are Latino people. Non-hispanic White individuals make up 69 percent of the population but only 17 percent of cases. However, according to the same dataset, most of the county's deaths have been white people--at least 60 percent.

It has been speculated the high death rate among white coronavirus patients points to a heavy impact on the area's elderly population, particularly those living in longterm care facilities.

According to Yolanda Nuncio, an activist with the Latino advocacy network Las Voces, these varying points of vulnerability have pushed activists to organize combined demonstrations addressing multiple communities at risk. “We are collaborating on this in support of all people who are suffering, and people who are in need,” Nuncio explained.

The groups are calling on Governor Ricketts to provide increased testing, case data from meatpacking and longterm care facilities with outbreaks, priority access to PPE for essential workers, and access to mental health resources for disproportionately impacted groups. They are also pushing for the state to require sick leave policies at all of the state's meatpacking plants.

“The things that we want from the governor are things we've been asking for the whole time," she said.

Demonstrators will gather in their vehicles at 2:15 pm on the South Side of the Capitol on Sunday afternoon.

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