'You're spending the night killing roaches': Pastors detail poor conditions at DC Central Cell Block

- A group of religious leaders said they experienced a night of horrible conditions at D.C.’s Central Cell Block after they were arrested for civil disobedience outside of the Supreme Court.

The pastors were holding a prayer protest on Monday after they did not agree with recent decisions made by the high court.

Rev. Graylan Hagler was one of those taken into custody by officers. But he said this began what he called a nightmare, which included a six-hour stay inside a holding cell under D.C. police headquarters.

“It was a metal shelf for a bed, literally,” described Hagler. “Roaches were walking all over that as well as the ceilings and up the walls and on the floors. So you are spending the night killing roaches.”

Rev. Jimmie R. Hawkins and Rev. William Lamar IV were also locked up and saw the roaches. They also said the entire area was dirty and smelled awful.

“Also, the treatment of the staff. One guy asked for some water and the officer who was walking by said, ‘You see me having water in my hand?’ He came back five minutes later with a jug of water and said, 'I’m only going to walk down this aisle one more time and if you don’t get water, then too bad,’” said Hawkins.

FOX 5 took the pastors' concerns to D.C. Councilmember Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who is the head of the Judiciary Committee.

“I actually haven’t received complaints like this, but what I am hearing is troubling and I absolutely want to get to the bottom of it,” said Allen.

The upset pastors said something needs to be done. They don’t expect perfect conditions inside a lock-up, but it should be clean and insect-free.

“I challenge the mayor, every elected official to spend a night in jail,” said Rev. Lamar. “These elections are coming up. You go and spend a night in jail without a pillow, without a blanket. Mayor, council people – you spend a night so that you can see where you are sending your citizens.”

Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue said in a statement:

“While the Central Cell Block, which is located in the Daly Building, is cleaned daily and regularly treated with pest-control measures, we recognize that the entire building is in need of a full-scale modernization. That is why the District’s Office of Public-Private Partnership recently opened a solicitation for qualified bidders interested in completing a full renovation of the Daly Building.”

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