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NAACP visits Lee County Jail after fire

Posted at 7:43 PM, May 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 19:43:19-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Following up on the fire. Friday the Lee County Sheriff provided an update to the fire that broke out at the jail on Ortiz Ave. The local NAACP did a walk through of the facility after they received dozens of calls from people in the community.

During a press conference Sheriff Carmine Marceno updated the public about a fire that broke out at the Lee County jail Wednesday night.

“The AC unit on the roof surrounding the area caught fire,” he said. ‘Our inmates received immediate medical attention. We checked their vitals, oxygen. If they needed inhalers, they got them.”

Before the update a lot of family members of inmates were concerned about their safety and well being. They reached out to the Lee County NAACP for help. The branch’s President James Muwakkil did a walk-through of the facility alongside Political Action Chair Fred Morgan.

He says the walk-through was a part of their partnership with local law enforcement.

“We don’t want to portray this as an us against them. This is an us working together for the betterment of our community,” he said.

The NAACP advocates for people of color inside and outside of the criminal justice system. According to the latest data from Pew Research Center, black people make up 12 percent of the u.s.’s adult population, but make up 33 percent of the prison population. Morgan said many of the inmates recognized them during the tour.

“We see you, and you see us, and we’re here on behalf of you representing our community,” he said.

He said he was surprised to see how clean it was. Muwakkil is still following up with family members on the outside. after the press conference told me about a conversation he had with a woman who’s fiance is an inmate. he’s asthmatic and received treatment for smoke inhalation.

“He was still in the infirmary and he had received good medical help,” he said.

Muwakkil said he was watching the inmates’ reactions very closely during the tour. But, he said no one complained about their health or their rights being violated. Two inmates and two deputies were also treated for smoke inhalation.