Ministers try to ease tensions at Pitchess

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORESanta Anita opens winter meet Saturday with loaded card “We’re from the same place as the inmates. We know the lingo of the streets. We’re just here to bring a sense of peace to all of this.” The violence has prompted lockdowns at all Los Angeles County jails, some of which are temporarily segregated in hopes of easing tensions among the races. “We’re asking you to bring the power of community,” sheriff’s Chief Marc Klugman told the clergy before the tour. “They will listen to you. You’ll see that many of them have been coerced into doing things they don’t want to do.” Klugman previously said the violence had been traced to the Mexican Mafia gang issuing orders from outside the prison to target black inmates in retaliation for the stabbing of a Latino inmate at Men’s Central Jail last week. The clergy visit marked the first time such a large group has been invited behind the walls of the prison, according to sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore. CASTAIC – More than 45 clergy members toured the Pitchess Detention Center on Thursday hoping to soothe tensions among inmates who have rioted for days, but only moments after the ministers left new brawls broke out at the maximum-security jail complex. The ministers, from jails and churches throughout Los Angeles County, met with several groups of inmates in the locked-down North County Correctional Facility. Some 2,000 inmates rioted there Saturday, kicking off a series of race-related battles that flared again in the East Facility, one of four jails at the Pitchess complex in Castaic. Ambulances were called for the fifth time after blacks and Latinos sparred Thursday afternoon, only to be quieted by deputies using tear gas. No serious injuries were reported, though one man has died and dozens have been injured since the fighting broke out over the weekend. “The deputies can’t communicate as well as we can,” said prison minister Gary Honore, who bore tattoos and an edge earned from years on the street. He showed off an old identification card from a prison stay in his younger days. Once inside, the tension was palpable. “It’s just survival now,” said one black inmate. “They took away our toothpaste and toothbrushes and clothing. Just before you got here, they gave us these,” indicating fresh pajama-like pants. “We’d been wearing the same drawers for five days.” The black inmates said the sheer number of Latino inmates – a ratio of 3 to 1 – makes any solution difficult. “We’re outnumbered,” several said. “A lot of them know a lot of us from the street, but they can’t even say ‘hi’ in here,” another inmate added. “We got kids by Hispanics and have Hispanic friends, but in here, we can’t even shake hands, even though we’ve been neighbors for 28 years.” Black inmates said that during segregation efforts over the weekend, Latino inmates were moved into their cells and took personal items, including family pictures. “Don’t nobody want hatred,” one black inmate said. “But we’ll fight if we have to.” Allegations of delayed medical attention and skipped meals were made by the inmates, who added that their phone privileges were cut off arbitrarily, sometimes in the middle of a call. They also said Latino and white prisoners were given extra meals and the freedom to move about the facility while they remained locked in the day-room area. In an area where Latino inmates were segregated, fewer were willing to visit with the chaplains, staying closer to the back walls or sitting on bunks. One inmate did not speak, but held up a picture of a young woman holding a baby. All the men seemed to hold out a desire for respect from both their fellow inmates and the deputies assigned to guard them. “If they tell you you’re full of s–t, you believe you are,” one Latino inmate said. “The only solution is to get the shot callers from each side to sit down and work out a truce,” said a clergyman who asked not to be identified. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.” Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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