Local activist groups say Malcolm James was bullied in the Racine County Jail for having a 'soft voice'
They're accusing the staff of bullying 27-year-old Malcolm James for not being "masculine enough." James is one of two recent deaths there.
"We just feel that, you know, everyone has the right to exist in the sphere that they feel fit," Dan Seaver said. He is the president of Kenosha Pride.
He says staff harassed and bullied James because of his "soft voice."
"To me that's a sign of toxic masculinity," Seaver said.
"Nothing but being a being a big man who is a big teddy bear, and out of fear, they bring in a group of people," Kevin O' Connor said. He is the families' attorney.
James was arrested Saturday, May 29. He was placed on suicide watch due to his previous attempt. Jail staff says they tried to stop him from hurting himself. He then experienced a medical event that led him to be unresponsive.
"He was actively in crisis when he passed away. To throw that fuel on the flame of harassment and bullying, that doesn't calm a mental health crisis," Seaver said.
Twenty-two-year-old Ronquale Ditello Scott Jr. died in the Racine County Jail during the same week. Nursing staff says hours after his arrest he was yellow in color and not breathing.
"There's absolutely issue within that jail that allowed two people pass away within days of each other," Seaver said.
People gathered at the Racine County Courthouse Friday, June 11. They're asking for all evidence to be released and a thorough investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
"We're not playing, we're going to continue to be out here, we're going to continue to stand behind the families," Xavier Simmons said. He is a the co-founder of Change is Coming.
"I want to see the faces of the people who murdered my son," Sherry James said. She is James' mother.
The groups are asking the Wisconsin DOJ and the U.S. Department of Justice to open a civil rights investigation about the allegations.