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Inmates at a St. Louis jail rioted on Saturday morning over a variety of concerns, setting fires and throwing debris to the street below as corrections officers worked for almost eight hours to end the “extremely violent” group.
The riot at the St. Louis City Justice Center ended shortly before 10 a.m., but only after the prisoners had spent hours throwing a stationary bike, chairs, mattresses and other things to the streets below, some of the items burning.
Dozens of people gathered to watch the riot and efforts to contain it. Flames could also be seen just inside the windows.
“Even though our automated P.A. system would indicate that the cells are locked, they are in fact not locked and so other detainees were able to get out of their cells and into the unit,” St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards told KDSK.
Corrections officers used tear gas to regain control and had all 115 inmates involved in the riot back in custody.
The inmates claimed that they were fed up with conditions during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as a series of restrictions that limited visits and stalled court proceedings, officials said.
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Dozens of inmates had already been transferred from the City Justice Center after two disturbances in late December and early January, making this the third such disturbance in a very short time.
“There are some burn marks on the front of the building. They destroyed the inside of their floor and threw all sorts of stuff outside. … They flooded the floors, clogged the toilets, clogged the drains, so there is water damage,” said Jacob Long, a spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson.
The riot started around 2:30 a.m. after an inmate and a guard scuffled and the guard was jumped by other inmates, St. Louis Today reported.
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Jimmie Edwards, the city’s director of public safety, told reporters that the corrections officer was injured and taken to a hospital. That guard suffered bruises and contusions and was released later in the day.
No other officers or inmates were reportedly injured.
The corrections facility is located on the fourth floor of the Justice Center, with only glass windows facing onto the city street and no fencing or additional barriers around the building.
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Fox News reached out to the St. Louis City Justice Center and St. Louis Police Department for comment, which is pending.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.