Prison Riot

From my jail memoir, Hard Time, here's the full account of the jail race riot I described in the Sky TV news interview 

While on the phone in the day room, I noticed men gathering suspiciously on the balcony. Most of the blacks were engrossed in a card game downstairs, as three torpedoes [gang members] – a white, a Mexican, and a Mexican American – entered an upstairs’ cell, where the head of the blacks, who was called SmackDown, lived. More torpedoes guarded the stairs.

“Each of the races have decided you’ve gotta go, SmackDown,” yelled the white torpedo, a tough forty-year-old ranch hand from Nebraska. “Now roll yer stuff up!”
“For doing what? Who wants me to roll up?” SmackDown yelled, shifting away from them.
“Come on, SmackDown, let’s do this the easy way, dawg.”
“I ain’t rolling up!”

The white torpedo dashed behind SmackDown, while the other two approached from the front. He put SmackDown in an upright headlock while they punched SmackDown’s head and stomach. SmackDown lurched backwards, sandwiching the white torpedo between himself and the wall. SmackDown flicked his head forwards and then backwards, instantly breaking the white torpedo’s nose. Noisy crosses, jabs, and uppercuts fermented into a bloody mess. The yelling and pounding of knuckles against flesh caught the attention of the blacks, who charged half way up the stairs before the torpedoes began pushing them down. One of the blacks weighed almost 30 stone, and he fell down the stairs, knocking men out of the way like a bowling ball striking pins, dragging more men into the fight. Two of the blacks fought their way past the torpedoes and onto the balcony. Inmates of all races emerged from the upper-tier cells and fought those two blacks. The battle for the stairs was raging below them, and the fight at the bottom of the stairs was spreading throughout the day room. Several blacks were still trying to gain ground on the stairs until a hefty Mexican American attacked them from behind with a mop stick. Everywhere I looked a black man was bravely fending off multiple assailants.

Officer Mordhorst turned the phone lines off. “Lockdown! Lockdown now!” he yelled over the speaker system. “This is a direct order: lockdown right now!” Everyone ignored him, so he suited up a gas mask.

Knowing Mordhorst was on his way to the day room to spray us all, I tried to get up the stairs behind my cellmates, Troll and Doug, who were struggling to elbow through the fighting men. Struck by flailing arms, I raised my forearms to shield my face. Progress was impossible: we’d advance a few steps and get pushed back down. The torpedoes at the top of the stairs were pushing the blacks down onto the rest of us. I’d never been in the thick of a room full of people fighting. Caught up in the atmosphere, I was soon elbowing and pushing men of all races away with increased force. I felt the rush of the battle as I did what was necessary to try to get up the stairs. Also motivating me was fear of Officer Mordhorst who was descending the control-tower stairs, wielding a giant canister, seconds away from entering the day-room door directly behind me.

Sane guards waited for backup before entering a riot situation, but not Mordhorst.  Watching over him in the control tower, Officer Alston activated the sliding door to our pod. As Officer Alston yelled “Lockdown!” over and over, Mordhorst turned sideways to get through the half-open door, and charged into the day room. The Mexican pulling ninja moves with the mop stick was the first to be sprayed. An awful smell assaulted us, as if a thousand bird’s-eye chillies were being deseeded all at once. The spray scattered the men from the stairs. Falling over each other, eyes smarting, my cellmates and I rushed into cell D10, and slammed the door. From the safety of the cell, I watched Mordhorst, resembling an invader from World War II, dashing around spraying the combatants as if fumigating vermin. Coughing and wheezing prisoners rushed into cells. Many locked down in the nearest cells they could find just to escape from Mordhorst. The Mexican and Mexican American torpedoes slipped out of SmackDown’s cell just before Mordhorst got there. Mordhorst locked the door, and sprayed the cell for a good few minutes.

“I’m freaking blind! I’m blind!” SmackDown kept yelling.
By the time backup guards charged into Tower 6, Mordhorst had put out half of the riot. The backup guards dragged out anyone still fighting.
“My eyes are killing,” I said, panting by the cell door.
“Wet your towel and wrap it around your head,” Doug said. “It’ll stop the spray. Blink as much as you can, so your tears wash the crap out.”
I put a wet towel around my head, but left a gap to monitor the day room. Guards were ascending the stairs, hurrying toward the fighting noises still coming from SmackDown’s cell. The guards opened SmackDown’s door and rushed in, yelling orders to stop fighting. They emerged with SmackDown.

“You’ll all be sorry for pulling that three-on-one move when I get back outta the hole!” SmackDown yelled. Hardly able to open his eyes, he otherwise looked unscathed as they escorted him to lockdown.
Then they brought out the white torpedo whose bleeding nose was pointing in a new direction.
“Yer nose is crooked,” mocked a guard.
“Can I fix it before you handcuff me?” the white torpedo asked with a polite cowboy twang.
The guard looked perplexed. The white torpedo placed the palm of one hand against the side of his nose, and struck his nose with his other hand. It made a crunching noise as it went back into place.

I'am the author of the English Shaun trilogy, Party Time, Hard Time and Prison Time.

Click here to read Chapter 1 of Party Time.

Click here to read Chapter 1 of Hard Time.

Click here to read Chapter 1 of Prison Time

Shaun Attwood


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