Frigid week in heatless jail ends with mass protests

After a frigid week without heat or electricity inside Sunset Park’s huge Metropolitan Detention Center, power was restored Sunday night, Feb. 4 — but not before hundreds of detainees’ loved ones, activists and local leaders condemned the “inhumane” conditions inside the federal facility, which houses 1,600 inmates and pretrial detainees.

“This is an injustice. This is inhumane,” said Brooklyn resident Mikey Michelle as she painted a sign of support for the detainees on Sunday. “Heat is a human right.”

The power outage at the jail first attracted widespread attention on Friday — more than four days after the heat went out — as detainees banged on the frosted windows of their cells to communicate with demonstrators outside. On Sunday, a handful of detainees pressed against common area windows and shouted down to loved ones outside who were prevented from entering the facility.

“I’ve been locked in a cell for four days,” one man shouted. “Thank you for giving me a voice.”

“It’s me, mom. It’s your son. I love you,” another yelled. “I’m right here.”

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