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Inmates At St. Louis Justice Center Spark Another Uprising Over Delayed Trials

04042021_Provided KSDK_ St. Louis Justice Center Riot.jpg
Inmates at the St. Louis Justice Center gather around a third-floor window late Sunday during an uprising aimed at calling attention to their lack of court dates. Inmates appeared to throw objects out of the windows and start a fire.

Updated at 10:45 a.m. with the city's assessment that no one was injured.

A group of inmates at the Justice Center in downtown St. Louis left their cells and sparked an uprising late Sunday to draw attention to how long prisoners are there awaiting trial.

Videos taken from the street showed inmates breaking windows on the third floor on both sides of the Justice Center. Some appeared to throw objects out of the windows and start a fire. Smoke was spotted outside the broken windows at around 9:30 p.m., according to 5 On Your Side.

Throughout the disturbance, inmates chanted “We need help” and “We want court dates.” No one was injured, a spokesperson for Mayor Lyda Krewson said.

It was the latest in a string of protests at the Justice Center since late December. Besides immediate court dates, inmates also have demanded better conditions at the jail.

Advocates for people in jail say many have awaited trial for much of the last year.

A spokesperson for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the uprising.

About 10:20 p.m., police officers were inside with flashlights. Firefighters then put out the fire, according to 5 On Your Side.

The disturbance followed one in early February in which inmates overpowered and injured a guard before taking over an upper floor of the jail for nearly seven hours.

Inmates also have protested the lack of protective equipment against the coronavirus. There were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the jail before this weekend’s events, city officials said.

The latest riot is proof jail conditions have not improved as city officials claim, said Sharon Morrow, a local activist and advocate for homeless people who livestreamed part of the protest Sunday night.

“This city needs to listen to the community and treat people with honor and dignity," Morrow said. "That seems to be a consistent request."

The mayor's spokesperson said that city officials are aware of the incident and that authorities were responding to it.

Follow Kayla on Twitter: @_kayladrake

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Kayla is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.
Chad is a general assignment reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.

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