DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Four people were arrested Wednesday night during a protest outside the DeKalb County Jail, according to the Sheriff's Office.
The group, organized by the Atlanta Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (AIWOC), said inmates are being mistreated inside the facility and forced to live in unsafe and unsanitary conditions.
"There are allegations ranging from mold to malnutrition to abuse by guards to being put in solitary confinement for no reason and medical neglect..." said Meg Dudukovich of AIWOC. "..It's been happening for a long time. And I think it's time someone does something about it."
Dozens of protesters met at the MARTA station on Kensington Road before marching to the jail on Memorial Drive. They chanted, banged drums and held up signs and flags. The group was met with nearly 100 officers from DeKalb County Police, DeKalb County Sheriff's Office and the Georgia State Patrol.
The officers blocked off Memorial Drive from Interstate 285 to Kensington Road.
FOX 5 cameras were on scene when officers asked the group to move out of the street, allowing traffic to go through. A short time later, there was a scuffle and arrests were made.
On Thursday, authorities identified the four people arrested as Evan Himebaush, 23, of Blue Ridge; Cameron Michelson, 20, of Decatur; Brandon Sowers, 33, of Atlanta; and, Dianna Settles, 29, of Atlanta.
FOX 5 sat down with DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann in an exclusive interview Wednesday. He also gave a tour of parts of the facility, including the kitchen and an area with a kiosk, which he said allows inmates to do numerous things electronically, including filing their own requests and grievances.
Sheriff Mann refuted AIWOC's claims that the inmates are living in deplorable conditions and being treated unfairly.
"It's totally without crediblity," Mann stressed. "It is proven by the fact we are one of the well-renowned, safest and most accredited correctional facilities in the country."
Mann admitted mold is an ongoing issue at the aging jail. But he said the facility moved inmates to other facilities last year while deep cleaning and mold removal took place. He said the work in common areas and dormitories have been completed. He added mold remediation, elevator repairs and other projects will continue this year with the help of $864,000 in the budget for maintenance.
Still the sheriff insisted those structural issues are not 'deplorable'. He also refuted AIWOC's claims of inmates suffering human rights violations.
"We decided to decline because we think he should be speaking to actual inmates rather than third parties," Dudukovich told FOX 5.
Wednesday's planned protest came after two others last month, including one where officials said two officers were injured and an arrest was made. Authorities told FOX 5 News the demonstrators threw smoke bombs, set off fireworks and lit firecrackers.
Protesters said they haven't ruled out marching outside the jail again soon.