Updated: 1:18 PM PDT, April 05, 2021
For the second time in a span of months, inmates at a St. Louis jail rioted Sunday night protesting delayed court hearings and inhumane conditions. Nearly 60 inmates broke out of their cells and began breaking windows, setting fires and throwing objects onto the streets below, according to reports.
Inmates held at the City Justice Center downtown went to the third floor around 8:30 p.m. and reportedly covered cameras then proceeded to smash windows, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said in a bulletin, KSDK reported. The jail is located across the street from St. Louis City Hall.
Individuals could be seen holding signs reading “Help Us” through broken windows. Inmates were also screaming that they want hearing dates for their ongoing criminal proceedings, according to videos and reports. Court proceedings have been delayed in the city due to the pandemic.
A large crowd of friends and family of the inmates gathered on the street, showing up in support of their loved ones and filming the chaos from below.
A spokesperson for Mayor Lyda Krewson told KMOV4 that “detainees became non-compliant, covered security cameras, smashed windows and destroyed property.” There were no reports of anyone being seriously injured, according to the city.
Individuals continued to break windows, hold signs demanding justice and throw objects to the ground until officers broke up the crowd around 10:20 p.m., according to reports. The windows were no longer filled with inmates but muted with guardsmen flashlights.
But around 11 p.m.on the other side of the building, inmates could be seen, again, smashing more windows. They were moved from the second part of the building nearly thirty minutes later, according to KMOV.
“I am incredibly disappointed, frustrated, and saddened by the injustice coming from the City Justice Center,” mayoral candidate Tishuara O. Jones wrote in a statement Monday.
“There is an immediate need for change in our city’s justice system. Uprisings at our jails should not become the norm, and this is unacceptable.” St. Louis Mayoral Candidate Tishaura Jones also wrote on Twitter. “We need to get serious about moving pre-trial detainees out of our jails, vaccinating our inmates, and creating a new culture of justice in Saint Louis.”
The current mayor, Lyda Krewson, has appointed a task force to look into issues at the jail including investigating complaints about conditions inside the jail, the backlog of cases and any repairs the building may need, KSDK reported.