By Blake Garrison
On April 23, inmates in the solitary confinement unit at Allegheny County Jail (ACJ), notorious for its inhumane conditions, started multiple fires in protest of lack of medical care and the withholding of inmates’ medications.
Representatives of the county and the jail tried to sweep the political nature of the act under the rug, leaving out the inmates’ grievances in public confirmations of the fire. However, one inmate reached out to the Pittsburgh Current, saying, “They’re burning everything. The smoke is so thick you can’t even see. They’re not getting their psych meds up there.”
County officials reported that the fires had been extinguished and the facility placed on lockdown. The fires were started in pod 8E, a solitary confinement unit, while multiple pods were under COVID-19 quarantine procedure.
Later that night, a group of activists made up of mostly anarchists, gathered in front of ACJ to express solidarity by banging pots and pans, hitting poles and parts of the jail structure with sticks, playing drums, and flashing lights into the jail. Groups of inmates rallied in the windows of their cells, dancing and flashing their room lights in response.
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