Chicago, IL–On Monday, October 24, a group of detainees in the Cook County Jail refused trays from the mess hall in a collective act of defiance. According to a family member of a striker who spoke with Perilous, the strike was organized in protest of the harsh and, in some cases, retaliatory COVID-19 restrictions undertaken by the jail. According to a public information officer with the Cook County Jail, at least 43 individuals participated in the strike, which lasted one day with several individuals continuing on for two additional days.
Strikers declined an interview, citing fear of retaliation for speaking out, but did say that the jail has been using harsh COVID-19 restrictions in order to cancel programming and restrict detainee movement in order to cover for under-staffing. This allegation could not be independently verified by Perilous.
The hunger strike continues a long history of collective direct action on the part of detainees and their supporters on the outside, including a series of hunger strikes, attacks on guards, and at least one uprising during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in summer, 2020.
Featured image source: ABC7 Chicago.