On August 22, 2020, Obie Award-winning theatre artist and activist Stevie Walker-Webb will stage HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, a 24-hour public demonstration, relegating himself to a 6×9 foot space on the grounds of the McLennan County (Highway 6) Jail in Waco, Texas, to mark the 122nd day that his brother, Steven Waday Walker-Webb, has spent in solitary confinement.
On April 22, 2020, Waday had a bipolar schizophrenic episode. As Waday was in crisis, the Walker-Webb family called the Mental Health Mental Retardation (MHMR) facility for emergency mental health assistance. Instead of dispatching the requested mental health emergency response team, the Waco Police were sent.
Despite the family’s pleadings for mental health specialists and explanation that Waday was in crisis, the police tasered Waday, arrested him on his family’s front lawn, and loaded him into a police car.
Waday is being held on charges related to resisting arrest. Since his arrest Waday has been denied access to proper mental health care, and the conditions of his solitary confinement worsen with each passing day.
Currently, Waday is not allowed time outside of his 6X9 ft cell because the McLennan County Jail is experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak and Waday’s underlying health conditions make him vulnerable.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS aims to make visual the suffering and inhumane treatment of incarcerated mentally ill people and the policies that adversely impact their lives. The demonstration brings awareness specifically to the injustice that Waday is facing, but also points to the national failure of our mental health care system and its use of incarceration and solitary confinement as treatment for mental illness. Solitary confinement is inhumane but particularly brutal for people suffering with mental illness as studies show it exacerbates their condition.
WATCH THE DEMONSTRATION LIVE STREAM
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS will be streamed from 4PM CT on Aug 22 – 4PM CT on Aug 23 on The Public’s YouTube Channel.
There are many ways to help bring focus to this cruelty and unjustness and support the Walker-Webb family attain justice and proper care for Steven Waday Walker-Webb.
WAYS YOU CAN TAKE ACTION
- You can view and share the link to the live stream of the 24-Hour Demonstration.
- You can make a donation. All funds raised during this demonstration will go toward Waday’s placement in a long-term private treatment facility.
- You can send Waday Walker-Webb a letter of support.
- You can make a phone call to advocate for the rights of the mentally ill.
His situation is dire and urgent, and the mistreatment of mentally ill people won’t improve unless we commit to restructuring the systems that criminalize them.
As of 2019 approximately 34% of the U.S. prison population suffers from mental illness. Mental illness is not a crime, and the hundreds of thousands incarcerated as a result of their mental illness are not criminals.
Hundreds of Thousands takes place in concert with Black August – a commemoration that began in the 1970s to uplift efforts to dismantle mass incarceration, the prison industrial complex, police brutality, and the many social ills that disproportionately affect the African American community.
The demonstration is also in alignment with the Poor People’s Campaign as it is poor people of all colors who are incarcerated as a result of the failures of our mental health care system. The profiteering of prisons from the suffering of mentally ill people is a national human rights issue.
The Public is Theater Of, By, and For All People.