Filed under: Action, Featured, Incarceration, Repression, Southeast
In New Orleans on Sunday, multiple law enforcement agencies violently raided a pod which prisoners had barricaded themselves inside of, in order to publicize a list of demands for basic changes at the facility. The uprising at the Orleans Justice Center began on Friday, after prisoners “refused to go into lockdown and blocked jail staff from entering the pod,” and lasted for three days. The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office even had to call in officers from the Louisiana Department of Corrections to help put down the rebellion, due to severe staff shortages, which has pushed officials to keep many prisoners in their cells on lockdown due to lack of guards for up to 20 hours a day.
— Eli Brand (@EliBrandWDSU) August 14, 2022
After prisoners barricaded themselves inside their pod, one of 24 within the facility, prisoners issued both a set of demands to jailers and held makeshift signs, visible to those on the street reading, “Help Us,” while communicating to supporters and family members who rallied outside of the jail. Prisoners also reported to supporters that they were being denied water, food, and medicine, while jail officials admitted to cutting off access to water inside the pod. One prisoner was reported stating:
“We haven’t eaten since Thursday,” one inmate yelled. Another said a diabetic inmate has not been provided insulin and is “about to die.”
“We, the people in block 2E, are suffering from inhumane treatment,” another read from a petition. “We are being locked in our cells for 20 hours a day. … We do not go to court. Some of us haven’t been to court in seven months.”
Prison officials claim that their raid on Sunday began after prisoners started to flood their pod, “cover their faces” with masks, and break the glass of pod windows. Six prisoners were quickly arrested as “ring-leaders,” as guards fired projectiles, tear-gas, and set off flash bang grenades. Supporters on the outside reported that the tear-gas was so strong, they began coughing even outside of the facility.
BREAKING: We just heard explosions and saw smoke coming from the pod inmates had barricaded themselves in since Thursday at the Orleans Justice Center. We are working to get more information on what happened. Here is the video and sound of what we witnessed. @wdsu @TraversWDSU pic.twitter.com/1WVOWXHPh9
— Eli Brand (@EliBrandWDSU) August 15, 2022
The statement released by prisoners read:
We the people are tired of being treated in such an inhumane manner. It is nefarious the way your Staff members continuously violate our due process and civil rights unsympathetically daily. Nonetheless, we are not on Segregated, Disciplinary, or Extended Lockdown, to be thrown into our cells for 20 hours a day. Or at any time the staff feel as such. The staff let’s us out of our cells from 8 AM until 12 PM for the top tier. Then, 12PM until 4pm for the bottom tier, when half of us are unable to contact our relatives until after 5 PM once they return from work.
We Are Demanding An Immediate Resolution
* Washer, Dryer and Kiosk replacements. Basketball replacement
* (4) Books a month and the (20) photos a week restriction lifted.
* Mail to be delivered, and if refused, to be informed why.
* 30-minute visits put in place.
* Toiletries to be given weekly and on time.
* Proper medication and Sick Calls to be taken seriously.
* To be allowed recreation time from 8 AM – 10 : 30 PM.
* No reading material should be denied.
* To be taken to court on the court appointed date.
* Transportation has repeatedly not come for several inmates.
* A second TV.
* Remove the tint, for verification of whom we are communicating with, ie. Warden or Sheriff.
Prisoners also issued “complaints against specific staff members at the jail,” but officials would not go into further detail. Prison officials also reported in the news media that inmates involved in the uprising will be moved to different facilities across the state, in an effort to smash any rising forms of organized resistance. Many of the prisoners who took part in the uprising are also still awaiting trial and have yet to be sentenced.
Local news also reported that, “A similar demonstration occurred in a women’s pod, but was resolved quickly. Sheriff Hutson said that pepper spray was used on one inmate in that incident.”