Genocidal Realities

SF Sheriffs Force Prisoners to Fight Like Gladiators

March 30, 2015 | Revolution Newspaper |


In speaking to the situation facing Black and Latino people in the U.S.—mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline, the criminalization and demonization of a whole generation of youth, the overt or just-below-the-surface racism prevalent in society, etc.—Carl Dix of the Revolutionary Communist Party has said what is taking place is a slow genocide that could easily become a fast genocide. The word “genocide” comes from the ancient root words “genos” (people) and “cide” (killing)—according to the UN, genocide is the deliberation imposition on a national, ethnic, racial or religious group of “conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” This regular feature highlights aspects of this slow genocide.


In a scandal that has just come out, the San Francisco public defender said that in early March, Sheriff’s Department deputies forced two inmates at the County Jail to engage in “gladiator-style” fights. They picked the smallest prisoner at the jail—Rico Garcia, weighing 150 pounds—to fight against the largest—Stanley Harris, weighing 350 pounds. Garcia said, “They took me down to the hallway and told me to fight another inmate, which was Stanley, and told me if I didn’t fight that I would basically get beat up by themselves, by Deputy Neu. And he told me he was going to Mace me and cuff me if I didn’t.” Neu, apparently the ringleader of these pigs, was accused in 2006 of sexually assaulting a woman and two transgender inmates—a case that was “settled out of court.”

The deputies placed bets on the fights, and they told the two prisoners that “anything goes” in the fight—other than hitting the face, so that there wouldn’t be obvious evidence of the fight. Garcia was injured in the staged fighting, possibly with broken ribs. But the deputies forced him to not report his injuries.

Bob Avakian, "A better world is possible," from his talk REVOLUTION: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About. As part of this clip, BA talks about how guards at the Corcoran prison in California forced prisoners to fight like gladiators.

What kind of savage beasts would force two incarcerated human beings to fight each other—whether it’s for “entertainment,” trying to foment divisions among people, or whatever? This isn’t just about the four individual deputies reportedly involved in this specific incident (who have been transferred to other prisons). Clearly, these gladiator-style fights couldn’t have gone on without the other jail-keepers knowing about it, if not actively participating. And this kind of outrage isn’t just restricted to this one jail. In the late 1990s, for example, it was exposed that at California’s Corcoran state prison SHU (Security Housing Unit, or isolation units), guards organized “gladiator days” where prisoners from different gangs were put into the exercise pen and told to fight each other, while armed guards watched and bet on the outcome. This was part of how the prison authorities foment and enforce divisions among prisoners.

The horrors that go on in the hellholes of mass incarceration across the U.S. are part of the genocidal program directed at Black and Latino people. Prisoners are subjected to mind-crushing torture in isolation chambers. They are chained, beaten, maced, tasered. They are set against each other so the authorities can more easily exert control over them. Rape is used as a means of social control on prisoners, both women and men. All this is intended to break the spirits of millions for whom this system offers absolutely NO future.

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