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Indybay Feature
Tue Aug 1 2017 (Updated 08/03/17)
Demonstrations Against "Workhouse" Jail Rock St. Louis
Tue Aug 1 2017 (Updated 08/03/17)
Evening Noise Demo at Notorious St. Louis Jail Evolves into Two Days of Raucus Protest
As temperatures reached 108 degrees in St Louis in late July, the heat illuminated the deplorable conditions of the Workhouse on Hall St. The medium security prison is tucked away in the Industrial Wastes along the Mississippi River in north St Louis City. The Workhouse is notorious for it’s filth, cockroach and rodent infestations, black mold, antagonism by the guards, and the deep ineptitude of those who operate it. The Workhouse was the focus of a civil suit in 2012 after guards were found to be forcing inmates to fight each other in gladiator style tournaments. In 2013, according to the US Department of Justice, the Workhouse had one of the highest rates of reported sexual abuse among the entire country’s jails.

To highlight both the inexcusable conditions at Hall St. and the problem of its mere existence, a noise demo was called for the evening of Friday, July 21. Around 300 people gathered outside the Workhouse to demand immediate relief for those suffering inside. After people clamored forward, creating a rowdy cacophony with pots, pans, air horns, and bells, the front line of the demo turned it’s energy on the fence itself, shaking the outer fence and eventually removing some of the clasps that adhere the fence to the fence poles. Police pushed back, used pepper spray, and made one arrest.

On Saturday, a smaller crowd of around 100 gathered on Hall St. across from the prison at 7pm. Police swooped in to snatch and arrest a few of the most vocal protesters. For hours, confrontations continued as people pushed forward and riots cops pushed back, resulting in several more arrests. The cops were subjected to trolling and shouting as people refused to be silent in the face of their repression.

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