In this episode of Kite Line, we cover the recent demonstrations outside the Workhouse in St. Louis, Missouri.
On July 21, police there used pepper spray to disperse 300 people protesting conditions in a medium-security jail called the Hall Medium Security Facility, known popularly as the Workhouse. The demonstrators demanded that the jail be closed, as prisoners inside chanted and held up banners through the bars. The noise demo was called partially because the Workhouse doesn’t have air conditioning and prisoners have regularly suffered temperatures well over 100 degrees. One of the protestors held a sign that said, “We treat animals better.” But many participants also linked this struggle for humane conditions to a broader struggle against prison as an institution.
The city’s poorest residents, who are unable to afford bail, stay in the jail for months. On July 21, two organizations, the Saint Louis Action Council and Arch City Defenders, bailed out 15 people after raising about $10,000. The groups have raised bail money before, but because of a recent heat wave, they recently received a hundred requests for bail. This week, we hear weave together first-hand accounts from several people who were at the Workhouse noise demo.