The Mexican from Tijuana acted normal in his greeting as he led the way and gave the Mexican
from LA a shadow to hide in. The Mexican from Tijuana clapped hands in a handshake with Danger,
who had his arm sticking out the steel bars enclosing the showers.
His black arm got slammed at an angle against the steel bar at his elbow and the Mexican kept
pushing it that way. I heard the bone fracture and Danger screaming in pain. He tried to resist by arm
wrestling his arm back into the safety of the shower but it was useless. His fractured arm wouldn’t
respond it was uselessly folded at the elbow.
The other Mexican came out from behind and thrust a thin steel ice pick at an angle through the
shower bars into Danger’s face as he leaned away to use the steel bars for protection, while at the same
time still trying to get his fractured arm back through the bars. After getting hit in the cheek just below
his eye he backed hard enough to free himself.
The other Black Crip, T-Rock fired punches at the second Mexican attacker. The steel bars
enclosing the shower were blocking any further action and the outraged T-Rock yanked the door open,
yelled, and slipped in shower shoes. The second Mexican took advantage of his slip and used his left
arm to hold the shower door open and with his right hand jabbed the steel into T-Rocks shoulder. TRock
gathered himself with even more rage. The warrior took the ice pick poking as if it were only bee
stings and fired so many punches that the Mexican backed out of the shower, but closed the door on the
forward charging T-Rock. He made it through the narrow closing door but took the impact on his
shoulder and head and was made even more furious. His anger alone separated him from the two
attacking Mexicans. Incited by his partners rage, Danger came running out of the shower with his
fractured arm hanging at an unnatural angle.
The sound of the block gun was next, “Boom!”
I slid down Popeye’s cell with my back against it to sit on my haunches and realized inmates in
cells were yelling and kicking their cell doors. I looked at the tower and saw the smoke from the tip of
the rifle and at the same time heard the alarm send a siren of decibels in screeches that rose and fell.
Another tower guard at the control booth yelled into the microphone, “Get down! Get down!”, then
ran to the opening in the tower window with another rifle.
The two Black Crips were engaging the Mexicans with punches, kicks and grapple throws with
arms going everywhere. All four inmates were bouncing off cell doors with the fight going further
away from the tower, down the tier. Prison guards poured through the vestibule and got as close as they
could and fired block guns, then pointed canisters of pepper spray at them from four feet away, a
stream of painted orange followed the combatants still fighting and bouncing off cell doors.
The gun tower yelled into the microphone, “Get the fuck down! Live rounds coming!” I saw the
four inmates fighting hesitate for a millisecond, like they knew what they’d heard from the tower
changed this melee into deadly consequences or life sentences but they kept fighting for honor waiting
for the other side to back down first.
“Boom!” The block gun spoke, then “Ping”, a live round ricocheted, and it was enough. All four
inmates sprawled out on the floor just as another army of prison deputies with gas masks came pouring
through the vestibule with plastic shields thrust in front of them.
Popeye said, “That was weak.”
Twenty minutes later the four inmates were led out of the building in handcuffs. The building’s
occupants inside cells emanated energy that blew rage, frustration and confusion through the air like
wind. I walked up the stairs wondering if any Mexicans or Blacks heard Popeye say in disgust, “That
was weak.” I agreed with him, it was weak.
Not the battle, the reason for it and the position it would put every single one of the inmates in,
along with the deputies, along with the families of both, along with the communities outside the prison
My cell door popped open and I took a last look with my shirt over my mouth. The tear gas fog
floated slowly in a cloud and I could see the canisters it came out of under the tower still whispering
gas. Almost every inmate and guard coughed and felt the sting burning their eyes.
Down the tier from the canisters, the floor was painted orange in a path the pepper spray
extinguishers’ sent, followed by a line that went up and on a few of the cell doors the combatants had
bounced off. Blood stains soaked some of the floor and stained a few of the cells. Almost every cell
still had a bald head with a pair of eyes at their cell doors, studying the building the way I was, with
shirts bunched up covering their mouths.