NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — A three-day protest by a group of Orleans Justice Center inmates who barricaded themselves inside a high-security pod came to an abrupt end after officers invaded the area, reportedly using tear gas to force the group out. According to the Orlean’s Parish Sheriff’s Office, the standoff was in response to reportedly poor living conditions at the facility.
A city official confirmed that the Louisiana Department of Corrections was called to the OJC Sunday night after the inmates blocked the entry to the pod on Friday, preventing anyone from entering or exiting.
As of early Sunday night, there had been no acts of violence between staff and inmates, with Chief Communications Officer Timothy Ray claiming officers were using de-escalation techniques and working to negotiate with those inside. However, this all ended around 8:30, when Timothy says the residents triggered the facility’s sprinkler system, causing the pod to flood.
Our news team responded to the scene where two prisoner transport units were seen entering the facility after the protest ended. We’re told no one was injured and that the six inmates involved will be transferred to different maximum-security facilities across the state, including Angola Prison.
Members of the public joined in on the protest from outside the prison’s fences on Sunday, including several people who were at the facility when the raid happened. Witnesses tell WGNO’s Britney Dixon that they saw multiple flashbangs go off inside the pod.
The protest began days earlier when the group of inmates placed blockades over the pod’s entryway and refused any offers of food, water, or medication. Video released by the facility shows the group lingering around the door, closed off by stacked furniture.
Sheriff Susan Hutson reports this is the same living space where four separate stabbings happened over the course of seven days. Following the stabbings, Hutson says increased security measures were implemented, including officers making more rounds and reducing the number of jail residents who are allowed out of their cells at any given time. This was one of the issues the prisoners demanded be changed — detailed in a letter written by the group.
Just hours before the raid, Hutson released that same letter written by the prisoners, also requesting 30-minute visits, books, toiletries, and that inmates not be locked up “for 20 hours a day.” However, it also detailed concerns the inmates had, claiming the treatment of the prison’s residents is inhumane. Read the full letter in the reader below.