On Feb. 1, prisoners in Delaware’s James T. Vaughn Correctional Center took four Department of Corrections workers hostage during early morning. One hostage managed to radio out a warning, alerting officials to the situation happening in building C and allowing them to place the building on lockdown.
Throughout the day, prisoners used radios to negotiate better standards for the prison in retaliation to Donald Trump’s first weeks of presidency. They demanded rehabilitation programs, educational programs and less abusive living conditions, out of fear that Trump’s administration may cut these programs in the future. The prisoners contacted a reporter at a local Delaware paper to spread their cause.
The inmates released two of hostages unharmed, one around noon and one late in the evening at 8 p.m. Three maintenance workers made their way to the roof and escaped with police aid around 11 p.m.
The protesters filled metal footlockers with water and barricaded all of the doors, preventing authorities from breaching the building. At 5 a.m. the next morning, Delaware State Police entered the building with the aid of a backhoe, allowing one of the two remaining hostages to leave the building unharmed. Sargent Steven Floyd, the remaining hostage, was found dead.
Authorities remain unsure which of the 120 prisoners staged the standoff. A group of 46 prisoners exited the building during negotiations but remain under investigation. Police officials are conducting a thorough cell by cell investigation to determine the perpetrators.