4th Uprising in 5 Months Hits Saint Louis Central Justice Center: Statement from FTP-STL

Militants Break Out Windows and Speak to the People. Image Richard Reilly.

For the People – STL (FTP-STL)

For the 4th time in 5 months, inmates at the Justice Center in downtown STL have staged a militant uprising. They demand treatment as human beings, appropriate COVID-19 safety measures, no retaliation/new charges for participation in demonstrations, food fit for human consumption, timely court dates, and the respect of their basic human rights. These demands are basic and all people with a sense of decency must unite with them.

Tonight we saw brutal repression fitting for a capitalist-imperialist state which has as its basic interest the incarceration of what it deems “surplus populations”. Black, Brown and working class white people are disproportionately incarcerated for crimes that earn the rich simple slaps on the wrist. These individuals are subjected to cruelty and brutality, and upon transfer to prison are forced to work for free or near free, which is why prison activists call mass incarceration the new slavery. Despite the formation of a “task force” farce by the lame duck Lyda Krewson administration, atrocities continue to occur. Corrections officer Demetria Thomas opened up a cell door on March 22 and let two detainees assault another inmate for four minutes before warning them off. Thomas now faces third degree assault charges. This is just one example of the corruption and callousness that infects not just the Saint Louis city penal system, but the entire structure of prison under capitalism-imperialism. These are not places of rehabilitation, but places of brutal torture and punishment.

Image: Richard Reilly

Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards is directly responsible for these atrocious conditions. He resigned with his tail between his legs last month as a result of pressure from the masses and because he was thoroughly exposed through his inaction as a crook and a neo-colonial puppet. The election Tuesday will sweep another puppet of the ruling class into office, whether it be Cara Spencer or Tishaura Jones. The inmates at the CJC have demonstrated in practice the political correctness of the election boycott upheld by Communists the world over. Through rebellion they have captured the attention of the world, and any gains made will be a direct result of the rebellion, not as a result of the election. It is essential that we continue to expose the capitalist imperialist system and its crumb snatchers and organize the people for sharp and militant class struggle.

Tear gas was used. Supporters on the street below felt the effects of the gas as it filtered down, choking the elderly. Saint Louis City neocolonial Sheriff Vernon Betts was present and denounced the inmates as “murderers who brought this on themselves”. Inmates continued to convey their messages and demands with signs made with cloth and toothpaste. The tear gas and violence did not dampen the solidarity or the resolve of the people, inside or outside. The mood was celebratory with supporters and family members on the street calling up to their loved ones inside. We saw the further development of solidarity through struggle.

Sign made by inmates with toothpaste. Image FTPSTL.

Jails and prisons have historically been trenches of sharp class struggle. From the Attica Uprising of 1971 which was drowned in blood to the Lurigancho, Santa Barbara, and El Frontón uprisings waged by militants of the Communist Party of Peru in 1986 (also drowned in blood), those who have been incarcerated have always waged sharp and merciless struggle against those whose task is to murder them in ways both quick and long. These uprisings will continue to happen, and they should. We firmly denounce the actions of the pigs tonight and unite, principally, with the call to not prosecute the rebels. This demonstration also exposes the uselessness of the so-called “task force” which is good for nothing but sitting on its hands and talking while people suffer. Any gains will be snatched from the enemy through escalating and more organized class struggle, not through focus groups of academics and sociologists whose job is to traffic in the people’s pain to get published in this or that journal.




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