Guards used shotguns loaded with rubber pellets to break up a riot at Wallens Ridge Prison in Virginia. On Sunday December 3rd, in a deliberate violation of prison procedure, prisoners returning from lunch left the sidewalk and gathered on the recreation yard to protest prison conditions.
When confronted by guards the prisoners became vocal. DOC spokesman, Larry Traylor, said the men were yelling profanities but was unsure if they were voicing any specific complaints.
When guards displayed their weapons in a show of force, Traylor said the prisoners "grouped even tighter and began to run somewhat aggressively toward the staff in the yard." Guards fired warning shots and ordered the prisoners to lie down on the ground. When the protestors refused to comply the guards opened fire, hitting an undetermined number of people.
All of the prisoners involved in the riot were from Connecticut. DOC Director Ron Angelone said the protest was an attempt "to disrupt the normal operations ... with the goal of creating enough adverse publicity so as to increase pressure to return them to Connecticut."
Residents of Wallens Ridge have often complained about racism and brutality. Prisoner advocate Judi Walters says, "they're sick and tired of the racist remarks, the way their being treated, and the physical abuse."
Wallens Ridge is currently under investigation by the F.B.I. for allegations of excessive force, raised by the attorney general of New Mexico. Neither is this Wallens Ridge's first confrontation with Connecticut prisoners. Last July 4th, Lawrence James Frazier, also from Connecticut, died after being shocked repeatedly by a prison guard with a stun gun. Although no prisoners suffered lifethreatening injuries in this confrontation, Frazier was one of two inmates to die since last April, while in custody at Wallens Ridge.
Sources: The Roanoke Times
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