Police stopped protesters at the Hall St Workhouse in St Louis from an attempting to breakout prisoners on Friday evening
Protesters gathered outside the medium-security prison after a video went viral earlier in the week showing the inmates screaming for help
Riot police arrived on the scene after protesters managed to get past the first fence of the Workhouse
Police used pepper spray to disperse the crowd from the area later in the night
A second night of protests are planned for Saturday evening at the Workhouse
(ST. LOUIS) Police made one arrest at a demonstration protesting conditions at a medium-security jail Friday night.
Amidst a triple-digit heat wave, nearly 150 arrived to demonstrate outside of the unairconditioned St. Louis Workhouse, where prisoners unable to post bail await trial.
Undeterred protesters promise a repeat of last night’s protest, which concluded soon after police dispersed protesters under threat of arrest.
Police monitored but did not interfere when protesters worked with knives to dismantle an outer barbed wire fence. Over a half dozen protesters ventured under the perimeter fence, including one man who began scaling the second fence.
Riot Police On The Scene
Officers with St. Louis police officers soon arrived in riot gear to force protesters further from the prison.
Inmates inside gathered by windows and waved towels, chanting “let us out.”
With signs of tensions increasing around nightfall, police gave the order to disperse.
“This is an unlawful protest,” an officer said from a police van’s public address system.
After a 10-minute ultimatum had elapsed, riot police used shields and pepper spray to disperse a few dozen protesters who remained behind. Police tackled and arrested one man who resisted.
In a statement, the St. Louis mayor’s office touted “long-term improvements” at the jail in spite of a failed 2015 bond issue that would have funded improvements at the jail, including air conditioning.
“The mayor’s office is committed to working with the Circuit Attorney’s Office and the 22nd Judicial Court to more efficiently move people through our justice system to reduce the population in MSI,” the statement said.
The protests came with a silver lining. Groups organizing the release of prisoners raised about $10,000 Friday: Enough to bail out 15 people, St. Louis Action Council and Arch City Defenders hope to raise enough to bail out as many as 20 inmates, Action Council organizer Kayla Reed said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The group is hosting a second protest at the jail Saturday. Saturday’s event promises to be even hotter with temperatures peaking around 106 degrees.
“Please bring noise makers so the prisoners inside can hear they are not alone and be prepared for the police to escalate,” Socialist Alternative St. Louis wrote on Facebook. Socialist Alternative claimed the heat caused one prisoner to faint inside the jail.