ST. LOUIS (AP) — Inmates who set fires and broke windows at a St. Louis jail over the weekend did so to protest inhumane conditions, including a lack of personal protective equipment to combat the spread of the coronavirus, according to inmate advocates.
The uprising Saturday at the City Justice Center was “an act of courage” that was necessitated by inmates’ basic needs not being met, Tracy Stanton of Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing St. Louis said during a virtual rally Sunday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“They are demanding proper heat, they want proper (personal protective equipment), proper clothing and visits from families, who can visit them from the other side of the glass,” Stanton said. “This was an act of courage that was staged to reinforce these issues because their needs are still not being met.”
More than 100 inmates in the downtown facility broke out of their cells on Saturday, leading to chaos on its fourth floor. A corrections officer was attacked and was hospitalized but is expected to recover.
It was the third uprising at the jail since December. Among the concerns is protection against COVID-19. City officials say there are no positive cases among the general population, and that inmates are provided with adequate PPE and are tested upon request.
But activist Inez Bordeaux, of the legal aid group Arch City Defenders, said she’s taken calls on the organization’s jail hotline and heard from dozens of detainees who say they don’t have access to COVID-19 testing or PPE.