- Politics and Social Issues
21. Prison Battles
Do you know anyone who has been the victim of gang violence?
Prison Battles is the continuation in a series of hubs in which I discuss my life of rebellion, dabbling in the Occult, drugs, crime and prison to life-changing conversion through Jesus Christ. Click here to read it from the beginning. In this hub, I will discuss prison battles that I witnessed or heard about in federal prison.
The Dangers of Coca-Cola
At the time of my arrival in Lompoc FCI, there were two major opposing gangs coexisting: the Sureños and the Norteños. They are sworn enemies on the street; and they fight and kill each other on site. However, in Lompoc FCI, things were a little different. Rumor had it that the Norteños paid a tax to the Sureños in order to be allowed to walk the yard. The Sureños outnumbered the Norteños by at least two to one, so that is believable. Nevertheless, it was only a matter of time before they clashed.
One day, fights started breaking out here and there between the Norteños and Sureños. A group of Norteños would jump a Sureño here, some Sureños would jump a Norteño over there; and all of the Norteños were rounded up and confined in solitary confinement for their own protection. Even across the street, at the medium security prison, the two gangs were at war. I think it actually started over there, and word got to our facility about what was happening; so fights started occurring at the FCI as well.
In the FCI, some guys got pummeled by fists and boots. In the medium, the situation was much more serious. Guys used sheets of tin from soda cans in order to slice each other. After that, the FCI switched from selling soda in cans to bottles as a precautionary measure against such future assaults. Also, in the FCI, after the mayhem, the staff actually tried to reintegrate the Norteños back into the prison population with the Sureños. That was a big mistake; because within minutes several Norteños jumped a Sureño.
Sometime after that, there was a Norteño who made it passed screening after being incarcerated. Unaware that the Sureños evicted the Norteños from the FCI, he asked a couple of Sureños where he could find some of his buddies at. “You’re a Norteño?” they said. “Yeah”, he replied. They jumped him without hesitation. There was about six of them. He never stood a chance.
I didn’t actually see it happen; but a friend of mine told me all about it. It happened in the hall right outside of my dorm. I heard his head was about twice its usual size by the time they got through with stomping him. There’s a reasons why they ask you your gang affiliation upon entering a prison. It's for your own protection. Therefore, if you’re in a gang, don’t lie. Better yet, don’t join a gang.
Sureño and Norteño Conflict
There was once a riot between the blacks and the Mexicans. It all started over the most ridiculous thing: a Mexican guy dropped a black guy's sock when he was moving his clothes from the washer to the dryer in the laundry room. The black guy came in just as it happened. The Mexican guy tried to apologize, but the black guy wasn’t having it; so he punched him in the face. Bad move. There were about 200 black inmates as opposed to about 1,000 Hispanic inmates in the FCI.
The Mexicans jumped in to help their friend, and the black guys jumped in to help their friend. A few hundred inmates got involved before the staff was able to contain the violence. I was asleep when it started, but it woke me up. It was approximately 11:00 p.m. I heard some commotion in the hallway outside my dorm. Inmates were grappling. Lockers were heard getting bumped and knocked over. Also, there was commotion outside. There was the roar of a crowd, people were yelling and glass was breaking.
Around 30 inmates ended up going to the hospital. Guys were hitting each other over the head with padlocks in socks (a standard Lompoc FCI weapon). I even heard from a black co-worker afterwards, that he was cornered in his small, eight-man dorm with a few of his friends. They put a locker up against the door to try to keep the Mexicans out. One of the black guys broke the window. He took a shard of broken glass and wrapped some cloth around it to use as a handle. It was a makeshift knife. A Mexican guy was trying to get into their room, forcing the door open. He poked his head inside the room, only to see the black guy with the glass shiv in his hand. His eyes doubled in size, and he made a quick retreat.
The riot guards were called in to end the violence. They had full body gear on and were armed with paintball guns with pepper spray bullets. They were all shoot first and ask questions later. The blacks were rounded up and taken to the gym for the night for their own protection. When they were all gone, the Mexicans started stealing their property. I saw it with my own eyes.
In my dorm, there were two black guys that were taken away. Some Mexican guys took the fire extinguisher off of the wall and used it to break the padlocks off their lockers. Then' they quickly ransacked their lockers with shouts of “hurrah!” That didn’t sit well with a lot of prisoners, afterwards. Inmates are not supposed to steal from each other.
The black inmates were eventually reintegrated into the general population. However, most of their property was gone. As a result, inmates who had witnessed other inmates looting during the riot began informing the staff about the identity of the thieves. Snitching, as well as stealing, is something that is not generally tolerated in prison; but no one was violated (punished) for snitching in this case. It was the lesser of the two evils; and it got rid of many of those involved in the looting.
The majority of prisoners are divided by gang and race affiliations. This often creates tension among them, which can blow up at the slightest provocation. Sometimes, this leads to a full-blown riot! Prison is not a safe place to be. There were other fights I witnessed or heard about in the FCI. Ones including child offenders, gang members who had violated their gang code, and an inmate who punched a cop. I go more into detail about them in my next hub. Click on the link below to read it.