More than 100 prison inmates protested late Wednesday at the Monroe Correctional Complex in Washington state, in what authorities believe was caused by six positive cases of the CCP virus among the inmates.
Several law enforcement agencies, involving state and local police, helped to eventually bring the situation under control after the inmates threatened to set fires and take the law enforcement officers hostage.
The men began their revolt around 6 p.m. in the recreation yard of the correctional complex, according to a release from the Washington State Department of Corrections.
On Wednesday, April 8, 2020, over 100 incarcerated minimum custody men began engaging in a demonstration in the recreation yard at Monroe Correctional Complex.
— Washington Corrections (@WACorrections) April 9, 2020
The inmates ignored efforts by law enforcement to try and stop their demonstrations, which included “verbal directives, pepper (OC) spray and sting balls, which release light, noise, and rubber pellets.”
“Fire extinguishers were set off within two housing units within the Minimum Security Unit, providing an appearance of smoke from the exterior,” the Washington State Department of Corrections statement read. “The Emergency Response Team (ERT) gave verbal directives and the directives were obeyed by over half the men.
“Because there were men who continue to ignore the directives, sting balls were then discharged into the area. The individuals then stopped the destruction of the two housing units and came into compliance.”
No injuries were reported and the situation is “under control,” the department said, adding that there will be an internal investigation.
Six men held at the Minimum Security Unit of the correctional facility had recently tested positive for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, also known as the novel coronavirus. The Minimum Security Unit is where the first positive COVID-19 case in the state’s correctional system was reported. The latest confirmed cases there involved two men aged 68 and 28.
On Sunday, the six men were transferred from the Minimum Security Unit to the facility’s isolation unit, the Department of Corrections said. A health care team at the facility is monitoring and providing care to the inmates.
There are about 17 inmates at the isolation unit as of Tuesday. Meanwhile, the 111 inmates who remain at the Minimum Security Unit are now on protective isolation or quarantine for preventative reasons.
“The Department of Corrections continues to work at protecting medically vulnerable incarcerated individuals,” the department announced, adding that “all individuals in the housing unit where the first positive individuals were previously housed continue to have no symptoms of illness or disease (asymptomatic) and are wearing surgical masks for further protection.”
The Department of Corrections in Washington State continues to provide updates on new COVID-19 cases on its website and announced that it will no longer issue individual news releases on new CCP virus cases.