On the 14th of July, “LT” Leslie Irby died from the effects of extreme heat in the DC Jail. The air conditioning system has been broken since before that time and inmates have reported temperatures as high as 100F in their cells. On the 3ed of August, Cease Fire: Don’t Smoke the Brothers and Sisters led a march on and around the jail demanding repairs and an end to the baking hot cells. On the very day the protesters arrived a crane was set up, with a new condensor section for that HVAC system being slung to hoist to the roof where maintainance crews were finally at work. The odds that this is a cooincidence are low, given that the system has been broken for many weeks.
The protest included Ron Moten and a DC Councilmember. They said the DC Jail was supposed to be “Jail not Hell.” Others said “Jail IS Hell,” and chants of “We can’t breathe” referred to the stifling heat inside. A couple of apparently senior jail officials tried to order protesters to leave but were defied. At that point they quickly beat a retreat while saying they were “calling the cops” Police of course were well aware of the protest and ignored any such call. As one might expect of jail officials, they were quick to retreat from people they could not control.
It seems clear that with one inmate death blamed on the heat and protesters on their way, jail officials decided they could no longer “take the heat” so to speak and ordered repairs expedited. It is even possible that they wanted to make damned sure repair crews were visible to protesters, who at one point marched right past the base of the crane set up to lift the heavy HVAC components to the roof. The proof will be in what happens later, and in when the repaired system is turned on.
Marching around the DC Jail and the privately owned “Correctional Treatment Facility”
Crane is setting up to lift what can only be either an evaporator or a condensor section for the DC Jail’s air conditioning system to the roof