A prison in downtown St. Louis was briefly overtaken by inmates in an uprising that began this morning and lasted several hours.
The inmate revolt began early on the morning of Feb. 6 while a guard and an inmate were in a scuffle. Authorities claim that other inmates jumped the guard, incapacitating him before freeing other inmates. Once they gained control of the fourth floor of the prison, the inmates began to smash out the exterior windows, set fires and flood toilets. Video from the incident shows inmates standing in the broken-out windows and tossing jail equipment, some of it in flames, to the ground below.
The uprising is the third such event at the prison since December. The two former events were in protest of being held while the coronavirus pandemic makes prison conditions especially dangerous. Officials with the correctional system claim the most-recent disturbance was unrelated to those protests, but that claim has received pushback from local leaders.
"This was not an attempt to break out of jail. This is certainly not a situation involving COVID. We have zero COVID cases at CJC,” St. Louis Department of Public Safety head Jimmie Edwards said at a news conference following the riots. “This was a bunch of folk who were defiant. This was a bunch of folk who decided they were going to engage in criminal mayhem. And that’s exactly what they did and they should be held accountable for what they did.”
Missouri State House Representative Rasheen Aldridge, Jr. found that hard to believe.
“There are no protests without demands,” he said in a statement about the third uprising in recent weeks.
Regardless of whether or not the events were a response to conditions in the prison or something else, order was restored around 10 a.m. The officer who was attacked at the beginning of the riot is reported to be in stable condition. Over 100 inmates were transferred to either areas of the prison segregated from the general population or other correctional facilities in the state with stricter security measures.