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Inmates in Minnesota prison back in cells after hours of unrest

UPI
A wing of a prison in Bayport, Minn., went into lockdown for several hours Sunday after about 100 inmates refused to return to their cells. Image courtesy of Communities United Against Police Brutality/Facebook

Sept. 3 (UPI) -- A wing of a prison in Bayport, Minn., went into lockdown for several hours Sunday after about 100 inmates refused to return to their cells.

The situation at the Minnesota Correctional Facility - Stillwater lasted about 8 hours and nobody was harmed. All staff were removed from common areas, aside from two correctional officers who remained in the unit's secure control area, WCCO in Minneapolis reports.

The unit houses more than 220 inmates, most of whom returned to their cells when they were first asked. The inmates who refused to return to their cells stayed out talking and playing cards.

Several factors reportedly led to the incident, including a modified cell release schedule for Labor Day weekend caused by staffing shortages, KSTP reports.

Inmates had also complained of not having access to clean showers or clean drinking water for several days, according to Communities United Against Police Brutality, a Minneapolis-based organization.

"We just received information that prisoners peacefully protesting a lack of access to clean water have taken over a cell block at MCF-Stillwater prison," the organization said in a statement. "They have been locked in with no access to ice or showers for days due to understaffing. Some of the corrections officers are standing in solidarity with them. Corrections officers are free to leave the area. Prisoner rights groups are asking people to go to Stillwater Prison to bear witness."

Additional law enforcement along with firefighters and other first responders were sent to the prison while it was in lockdown.

"The situation was calm, peaceful and stable throughout the day," said Andy Skoogman, department of corrections spokesperson.

Skoogman added that the department's crisis negotiations team was called to the scene as a precaution but never entered the unit.

While most of the inmates returned to their cells, two continued to refuse and were sent to a separate unit. They will also face discipline.