Protesters demand answers following deaths at Forsyth County Jail

Photo by Tevin Stinson- Protesters make their way to the Forsyth County Jail during a rally and march on Monday, June 5 in downtown Winston-Salem.

Protesters demand answers following deaths at Forsyth County Jail
June 08
04:00 2017

In response to the deaths of Stephen Patterson and Dashawn Coley, who died while being detained at the Forsyth County Correctional Center, more than a dozen protesters battled heavy downpours to make sure their voices were heard earlier this week.

On Monday, June 5, the local chapter of Black Lives Matter held a rally at the intersection of Trade and West Fourth Street demanding county and city officials take a closer look at the recent deaths, which occurred less than a month apart

Patterson, 40, who was serving a sentence for failure to pay child support, was found unresponsive in his cell just before 5 p.m. on Friday, May 26. According to reports, an officer entered Patterson’s cell and found him unresponsive and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

Coley, 39, who was arrested on a DWI conviction in April, experienced a “medical episode” and later died while in the care of Correct Care Solutions, the medical provider for the county jail, on Tuesday, May 2.

During the peaceful protest, residents held signs and bellowed chants of “No Justice no peace, no racist police,” and others directed at the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Department.

“We are greatly concerned about what we’ve been hearing from the community and family members,” said Effrianguan Muhammad, leader of the Winston-Salem Nation of Islam. “Our love and concern is what brought us out here today.”

Muhammad, who has been in contact with the families of Patterson and Coley, said there is a lack of transparency and lack of care for the concerns of the grieving mothers who have reached out with questions and often times are not getting satisfactory answers.

“We have to hold members of City Council, our county commissioners and all other leaders accountable for what is going on,” he continued. “No mother should have to bury their child. Mr. Patterson was in jail for child support. Now that child will never get that support.”

As the rain began to come down heavier, the chants from protesters got louder and they started to march to the Forsyth County Jail. After making their presence known by walking into the lobby of the jail on North Church Street, protesters made their way around the facility, gaining support from passing cars and inmates who showed their appreciation by banging on the windows of their cells.

After leading a chant, rally organizer Tony Ndege said along with calling for transparency on the part of the Sheriff’s Department and elected officials, the goal of the rally was to also educate. He also mentioned that he plans to hold other rallies in the near future.

He said, “A lot of people don’t even know this has happened. This is just the first of several events; we hope to have some forums and other events to shine a light on these situations.”

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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