“Hear that? That’s the sound of desperate people who are cold, hungry, and trapped. This is the only way they can make themselves heard. We hear you.”
The federal Manhattan Detention Center, located in the Sunset Park section of Brooklyn, is locked-down and prison officials have suspended family and outside contact with inmates. For nearly a week the roughly 1650 male, and female, prisoners have been living in the dark and without heat. Family members, inmate lawyers, activists, and local, state and national representatives have demanded answers.
So far, the Federal Bureau of Prisons has said power and heat won’t be restored until Monday when the electrical contractor is due back. Then a statement was released Saturday night:
It’s noted the BOP does not mention that there’s no heat.
In New York, temperatures have dipped into the single digits. It was reported that temperatures are around 49 degrees inside the facility.
According to the Bureau of Prisons, many of the people held there are pretrial. It’s been noted that before trial and adjudication, defendants are presumed innocent. Yet, women and men being held have been banging on windows in a cry for help. Some are concerned that people may die.
It’s Been a Week Without Heat & Electricity for Prisoners. For Some Families, It’s Been a Week Without Hearing From Their Loved Ones
“Family members & activists are keeping their vigil outside the Sunset Park jail. The prisoners reply by banging on their windows. It is a chilling, appallingly unnecessary, and yet still beautiful form of solidarity,” said NYC Council member Brad Lander.”
Families of incarcerated women spoke out about what is being described as inhumane conditions.
“This is the women’s block at #MDCBrooklyn right now. Human beings in dungeon conditions, pleading for human rights, hoping to live. Hear them. Come here and join their fight!”
“Here with my daughter to support the freezing people inside #MDCBrooklyn jail.”
There are 1654 inmates, according to the Bureau of Prisons. Men and women. Here is video taken outside the building where women are imprisoned.
Over the past several days, family members and activists have been outside the detention center. Saturday, once the facility said inmate visits were suspended, family members were turned away, many worried and frightened for their loved ones inside. Protests have been held nightly. And Saturday night was no exception.
But things turned chaotic with some alleged violence against protestors, many of whom are family members, by federal prison officials.
It’s been confirmed in a BOP statement that with power out, phone lines are also out hence the lack of ability of inmates to call family and friends.
“The people with family there have no information. Imagine being in 30° weather INDOORS? And who knows how cold it got w the polar vortex. People may likely be deathly ill or soon to be. Beyond inhumane, it’s torture,” one person there tweeted.
Late Saturday night, Rep. Jerry Nadler said the BOP will permit “legal” visitation to resume.
“People out here at #mdcbrooklyn demanding the power and heat be turned on and those inside are able to get medical care and see visitors.”