Updated Feb. 13, 2006 – After nine days of race riots at Los Angeles County jails, a second Black man was killed and nine others injured over the weekend, according to officials.
The latest rioting took place Saturday despite a lockdown of all 21,000 inmates in the six-facility Los Angeles County jail system last week.
A sheriff's spokesman said the fight erupted at a housing dorm where 86 Black and Hispanic inmates were separated by race. The 38-year-old, whose name is not being released, took part in a battle that pitted him and another Black inmate against four Latinos in his cellblock at the downtown jail, The Los Angeles Times reported.
The death is being investigated as a homicide.
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2,000 Inmates Battle
The riots, which sheriff’s deputies say are a carry-over of gang beefs from the street, kicked off at the Pitchess Detention Center on Feb. 4. At one point during last week's brawl, 2,000 inmates were battling with anything they could find. Some had shanks (homemade knives), while others threw bunk beds and other objects from second floor tiers, hitting inmates below, according to reports. Corrections officers rained tear gas inside the jail, and had control of the facility by Saturday night, L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca told reporters.
"It is essentially a Brown-on-Black incident today. What happens in the street will also carry over into the county jails," Baca said in a news conference.
Officers said they had received a note from an anonymous Latino inmate warning them to keep Blacks and Latinos separate before somebody gets killed. Baca said it is unlawful to segregate inmates based on race.
One Killed, 81 Injured
Deputies identified the inmate killed in that war only as a 45-year-old Black convicted sex offender. His death could have been a payback for his sex crime, Baca said.
Race riots are nothing new at Pitchess. Over the past decade and a half, there have been 150 such battles at the facility, which was built to house 3,800 inmates. In a riot five years ago, 81 inmates were injured, according to Reuters.
It is unclear how long the lockdown will remain in effect. When facilities are locked down, all movement – to meals, recreation, infirmary, chapel, etc. – is restricted; cells and inmates are searched more frequently; and overall security is heightened. In the six jails spread across the vast county of Los Angeles, there are 18,500 inmates.
Corrections experts have argued that Pitchess should be closed because violent offenders are mixed with nonviolent offenders, Reuters reported.
Less than three months ago, two gang members in the downtown facility tortured and killed a fellow inmate by stomping him and bludgeoning him with metal trays while inmates watched, according to news reports.
Should Blacks and Latinos be separated by race or is that unconstitutional?