Some demonstrators protesting the lack of heat and electricity at a federal detention center in New York City attempted to get into the facility on Sunday, and witnesses said guards pushed them back and sprayed them with an unknown stinging substance.
"I want answers, those responsible held accountable, and assurances that this will not happen again", he said in a statement published on Twitter.
Protesters have been outside the facility in recent days following news reports that those housed there have been largely without heat or power for the past week and also haven't been able to communicate with lawyers or loved ones.
In a statement Sunday, the federal Bureau of Prisons said power was partially knocked out in the complex's West building but unaffected in the East building, and that a new electrical panel would be up and running by Monday.
The trouble began on January 27 when an electrical panel caught fire at the prison, cutting off power to part of the facility.
Temperatures below freezing in NY this week prompted inmates to call federal defender offices about the appalling conditions. "This appalling situation needs to be fixed and I will continue pressuring BOP for immediate action", Velazquez tweeted Saturday.
A video surfaced of inmates showing conditions inside of the cell stating the vents were blowing cold air through the vents while temperatures staggered below freezing outside.
Hulu's 'The Handmaid's Tale' Super Bowl Ad Spoofed Ronald Reagan
Rather than a song, the clip is instead narrated by the 1984 Ronald Reagan ad campaign, "Morning in America". Back in May of 2018 Hulu announced a 3rd season of their hit show The Handmaid's Tale .
Velazquez said the heat situation seemed to be better when she visited the jail around 4 p.m. Friday but corrections officers were still wearing their coats.
He said the government has the responsibility to serve all its citizens while the Bureau of Prisons has to live up to that responsibility.
Von Dornum said clients at the jail have reported that there are no lights other than dim emergency lights in the corridors and no access to the computers that inmates use to request prescription medications and to email family members and attorneys.
One inmate, Dino Sanchez, has only a short-sleeved jumpsuit, a T-shirt and a single standard-issue thin blanket to keep him warm, according to a court filing by his attorney. The court papers say jail officials have taken no steps to provide Sanchez with "an oxygen mask, clothing, blankets, or access to a habitable location that will mitigate his health risks".
"I need to find out what's going on with my clients", lawyer Ezra Spilke said Friday.
One US representative who visited the facility Saturday told CNN affiliate WPIX that the temperature was as low as 49 degrees in the detention center. "They've basically been incommunicado from their attorneys since the 27th, which is when the electrical fire happened". However, she added, the prison was "still cold & dark" and "we weren't allowed to speak with inmates, unclear if blankets are being distributed". "There's only heat in the afternoons since we've been complaining today". Some have remained at the site overnight, shivering and indignant, in solidarity with inmates, they said.
Judge Analisa Torres ordered the Bureau of Prisons to produce witnesses at a hearing in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday to explain how the complaints raised by inmates' lawyers were being addressed.