While gang wars raged on the streets of Los Angeles, a little noticed though violent number of attacks broke out among members of the Crips gang imprisoned on San Quentins Death Row, prison officials say.
The battle reached its height last October when Tiequon A. Cox, who was inside the Rolling 60s faction of the Crips in Los Angeles, stabbed and wounded Stanley (Tookie) Williams, a body builder who helped found the gang 20 years ago.
Williams has denied any continuing role in Crip activity on or off the row. And Colleen E. Butler, Coxs attorney, noted that in prison, what appears to be the case is not always what happened.
Dozen Inmates Penalized
Nevertheless, Jeannie Ballatore, legal affairs coordinator at San Quentin, said in an interview, We believe it was a power struggle between the Crips. Prison documents state that the attack was one of several assaults among Crips last year. It prompted prison officials to confine more than a dozen suspected Crip members and associates on Death Row to Grade B status, where some remain.
As Grade B inmates, they are denied various items and privileges, and are allowed 10 hours a week out of their cells on exercise yards. That is a third of the exercise time given condemned inmates who have not caused major problems.
By attacking Williams, 36, the 23-year-old Cox took on a man thought by San Quentin officials to be the leader of most of the 20 to 30 Crips who are under a sentence of death.
In Los Angeles, law enforcement authorities on gangs viewed Cox as part of a new generation of violent Crips. He is on Death Row for the 1984 murders of the mother and three other relatives of former professional football star Kermit Alexander. Trial testimony indicated that Cox and his partners apparently meant to murder residents in a house two doors away, but misread the address.
Williams remains a part of the lore of the streets in Los Angeles a decade after his capture. Even detectives who work on gang-related crime recall with some nostalgia the days when they could turn to Crips leadership to help quell disputes before someone was murdered.
When he was out here, there was some control, said Herbert Giron, a Los Angeles County sheriffs deputy who specializes in gang work in Operation Safe Streets. There werent all these factions. I wish it were still true. We wouldnt have all these killings.
If their sentences are overturned on appeal and they are retried, most gang members on Death Row put aside differences, knowing that any prison rule infraction can haunt them. That made the eruption of the recent violence all the more unusual.
Details of the Crips power struggle were pieced together from interviews with officers and documents filed in a federal court hearing over prison conditions earlier this year.
Allegedly Ordered Attack
The attorney generals office filed the documents to justify the prisons decision to place the inmates on Grade B status and revoke their privileges. Inmates lawyers protested introduction of the documents, saying they were incomplete and inaccurate. A federal hearing officer is considering whether the prison violated the inmates rights by revoking their privileges.
According to one of the documents, the struggle began when Williams ordered Cox to stab another Death Row inmate, Darren Williams, apparently because Stanley Williams suspected Darren had been an informant. Darren Williams also is on the row for his role in the murder of Alexanders family members.
Cox refused the alleged order and instead, on Oct. 10, slashed Stanley Williams as Williams walked past an outdoor shower in an exercise yard.
A gun officer ordered everyone on the yard to freeze, and Cox tossed the 4 1/2-inch blade onto a basketball court. Williams, bleeding from a neck wound, refused to talk to officers. The report quoted Williams as saying simply: I dont know what happened. I dont remember.
In the report stating why Williams was confined to Grade B status, Lt. Melford Hamilton cited numerous violent incidents involving Crips members and identified Williams as a Crips leader.
Bigger Than Life Figure
A more controlled environment appears warranted, Hamilton concluded.
Not long after the attack, word reached the streets of Los Angeles that Tookie had been killed, Giron said, adding that prison news gets down here faster than the U.S. mail.
Youd be surprised how many of the youngsters know Tookie, Giron said. I know they dont. Its the folklore they know. You say, Tookie, and people know that name all over the county. . . . He is bigger than life to some of these kids.
San Quentin Warden Daniel Vasquez recently ran across a vivid example of the lore of Stanley Williams. A San Quentin chaplain had visited a juvenile detention facility where he heard an 11-year-old describe Williams as a hero.
Article source : Tiequon Cox