Inmates Angry Over Virus Restrictions Smash Windows, Set Fires in St. Louis Jail


Inmates at a St. Louis jail set fires, broke windows and threw things from fourth-floor windows on Saturday in the latest disturbance over restrictions that have limited visits and stalled court proceedings, officials said.

Dozens of law enforcement officers were working to bring the situation under control at the St. Louis City Justice Center, a spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson, Jacob Long, said.

About 115 inmates were involved, according to Long, who described the group as “extremely violent and noncompliant” in an interview with The Associated Press.

The disturbance began around 3 a.m., he said.

Some people gathered outside the downtown jail. Video posted on social media showed inmates holding signs on an upper floor while gathered at three windows that had been smashed. Firefighters were using a hose to put out blazes.

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“It is hard to see from the outside, of course, but the sheriff’s department and the police department have been here and are upstairs working to bring this under control,” Long said.

In late December and early January, dozens of inmates were transferred out of the St. Louis City Justice Center after two separate disturbances. Officials have said inmates were upset about restrictions in the jail.

There were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the 633 people jailed at the St. Louis Justice Center as of Friday.

“I imagine they are under the same amount of stress due to COVID restrictions like the rest of us are,” Long said.

“Courts haven’t been hearing cases in the 22nd Judicial Circuit. Their family visits have been restricted. But also they are acting out and that is the current situation.”

Long anticipated that 50 or 60 more inmates would be transferred out of the jail and into the St. Louis Medium Security Institution once the latest disturbance is brought under control.

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