Some demonstrators protesting the lack of heat and electricity at a federal detention center in New York City attempted to enter the facility Sunday, and witnesses said guards drove them back with pushes, shoves, and pepper spray, the AP reports. A reporter and photographer for the AP were at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn when a woman, whose son is being detained, tried to get into the jail. Protesters have gathered outside the facility in recent days following news reports that those housed there have largely been without heat or power for the past week and also haven't been able to communicate with lawyers or loved ones. Outdoor temperatures have been well below freezing on some recent days, though Sunday was warmer.
On Sunday, an inmate was able to call through the window of his cell, which faces out to the street, to his mother below. The woman, Yvonne Murchison, was crying and upset and tried to get into the facility, where visits have been stopped. She was followed by activists and media into the lobby, where visitors have to pass through metal detectors. Witnesses said officers used significant force to push the people out, with some of those attempting to come in being pushed to the ground. The AP photographer felt some type of spray, and began to have trouble breathing. The Bureau of Prisons has acknowledged that the jail "experienced a partial power outage due to a fire in the switch gear room." The bureau had said a new electrical panel is being installed by an outside contractor and work is expected to be completed by Monday.
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