Freshman Congresswoman Cori Bush [MO-1] has come under fire in recent days after tweeting out support for a prison riot at City Justice Center in St. Louis Missouri, likening it to the civil rights protests launched by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
According to WAND 17 news, “over 100 inmates took over part of the City Justice Center, located in downtown St. Louis,” a city within Rep. Bush’s congressional district.
Violence began Saturday morning at 2:30 AM when an inmate got into an altercation with a corrections officer. As other inmates jumped in, attacking the officer, “several detainees were able to unlock their cells and get into the fourth-floor unit.” Even more inmates were released from their cells as officers attempted to bring their injured colleague to safety.
Up to 117 prisoners broke out of their cells and ransacked the fourth floor of the correctional facility, eventually smashing several windows on the front side of the building, hanging signs out the broken windows, and throwing flaming debris to the ground below. One car’s windows were also damaged.
The unnamed officer treated in a hospital for his injuries was released that day.
Following the incident, the Democratic Congresswoman who first took office this January retweeted pictures of the riots, with a quote from Dr. King, sayin, “a riot is the language of the unheard.”
“I want to talk to my constituents in the window. Their lives and their rights must be protected,” Rep. Bush added. “My team and I are working to ensure that the urgent needs of people who are incarcerated are not ignored.”
Some are pinning COVID-19 as the cause of the up rest, though there were no confirmed cases in the facility. “Officials have said inmates were upset about conditions in the jail amid the pandemic,” The Chicago Tribune wrote. “Although there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 among the 633 people jailed at the St. Louis Justice Center as of Friday, tensions have been simmering.”
“I imagine they are under the same amount of stress due to COVID restrictions like the rest of us are,” Jacob Long, a spokesperson for Mayor Lyda Krewson, 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.”
He also called the group “extremely violent and noncompliant.”
“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,” Long added.
Dozens of inmates were transferred out of the corrections facility after rioters left the fourth floor uninhabitable.