Arizona prison resembles 'war zone' after hundreds of inmates riot, tear gas and rubber bullets used to end unrest
Officials said nobody was injured in the violence involving hundreds of inmates. The violence erupted after the inmates came together around staff and refused to disperse
The situation went out of control at an Arizona prison on Wednesday, November 25, when hundreds of inmates got involved in rioting, forcing the officials to fire pepper balls and rubber bullets at them. It was not clear as to what prompted the massive violence.
KJZZ, Phoenix, reported that several hundred inmates living in the Cook unit of Eyman prison, Florence, engaged in the rioting. Judy Keane, director of communications, Arizona Department of Corrections, said the unit was shut down on November 25, evening “after several hundred inmates grouped together around staff and refused to disperse.” Families of the inmates confirmed the firing of pepper balls and rubber bullets.
Rubber bullets used, everyone zipp tied, involved or not.— Suzanne (@Suzanne16794690) November 26, 2020
Keane also said that two specialized teams of department security staff responded to the riot. “The Designated Armed Response Team (DART) and Tactical Support Unit (TSU) responded to the incident and deployed nonlethal munitions to gain inmates’ compliance with instructions and secure the inmates inside their dorms,” she told KJZZ. “At no point was public safety jeopardized.” Keane also told Daily Mail that the violence erupted after the inmates came together around staff and refused to disperse.
‘It was a war zone’
The inmates’ family members also said that the inmates were zip-tied and held in a yard as the prison officials conducted a search in their living areas. Emails from inmates living at the unit said windows had been vandalized at the campus. One of them said the unit looked as if it had “exploded”, the KJZZ report added. "They came in with tear gas, flash bangs, pepper spray, and started shooting them at everyone," the inmate wrote, adding: “It was basically a war zone.”
The department said no staff member or inmate was injured during the brawl. Even though the reason for the rioting was not clear immediately, the inmates’ kin said they were not happy with the conditions that prevailed at the prison. Keane said the unit will remain shut “pending further investigation and assessment”, KJZZ added.
Prison riots are not new in the Grand Canyon State. In March 2018, one inmate was killed while 26 inmates and 11 prison officials were injured during a riot at a medium-security prison in Yuma (Cheyenne unit). Nine months later, the state’s department of corrections unveiled a surveillance video of the riot.
Also in August last year, 12 people were held following a noise demonstration at Tucson’s Pima County Adult Detention Complex. They were arrested in the facility and charged with one count of felony “riot” each.