September 26, 2021

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Inmates at St. Louis Justice Center break windows, set fires in hours-long uprising –

3 min read

The incident comes less than two months after a Feb. 6 uprising that left a corrections officer hospitalized

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis police responded to the city’s downtown jail Sunday night after inmates broke windows, set fires and threw debris onto the street below Sunday night.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department sent out an all-points bulletin across city police radios Sunday night after inmates on the third floor of the Justice Center reportedly covered cameras. A short time later, inmates began breaking the windows and throwing things onto the street. At around 9:30, smoke was pouring out of the broken windows.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s Civil Disturbance Team was among the officers responding to the scene Sunday night.

By around 10:20, the inmates had moved been moved away from the windows, and police officers could be seen inside the windows looking around with flashlights in hand.

Once the inmates were moved, firefighters worked to put out the fire below, which hand flared up at around 10:30.

At around 11 p.m., inmates broke third-floor windows on the other side of the jail and started throwing things from the windows again.

About 30 minutes later, inmates moved away from the second set of broken windows. As inmates moved away, the crowd below began slowly dispersing. 

At one point in the uprising, inmates threw a chair from the windows. A man was seen dragging the chair into the street and sitting on it while watching the scene unfold. The man took the chair with him as he left Sunday night, and 5 On Your Side’s Casey Nolen asked him what he thought of the incident.

Warning: The video in the tweet contains language some readers may find objectionable.

At around 11:55, the sound of saws could be heard as workers began the process of boarding up the windows.

While the uprising continued Sunday night, St. Louis Treasurer and mayoral candidate Tishaura Jones said there was an “immediate need for change in our city’s justice system” that needed to include a clear chain of command for the jail.

The incident comes about two months after inmates broke out of their cells and revolted. In the predawn hours of Feb. 6, 117 inmates at the downtown City Justice Center broke free from their cells.

They smashed windows, set fires and tossed chairs, a filing cabinet and other items through the broken glass onto the street four stories below. A corrections officer was briefly hospitalized.

It was the third uprising at the downtown jail since December, according to the Associated Press.

The incident sparked an investigation into broken locks at the justice center.

And St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson appointed a task force to look into issues at the jail, including: 

  • Investigating complaints about conditions inside the jail
  • The backlog of cases in the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court
  • Any repairs the building may need

An I-Team investigation discovered the city’s Division of Corrections was about 72 guards short on the day 100 inmates at the city’s downtown jail attacked a guard and rioted.

The staffing issue is one of several the I-Team uncovered in internal memos since the Feb. 6 riot. The documents from police commanders to corrections officials including Commissioner Dale Glass summarized a multitude of safety concerns — staffing levels among them.

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