Thomas Silverstein – Official Website

Solitary Survivor

Article on Background to Tom’s Story 6.14.2019

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The Evolution of The Supermax Prison pdf

Alan has asked that this link be added to the end of his article: https://harpers.org/archive/1972/02/war-behind-walls/

And this further material:

Riot at DVI Tracy, California
“They stabbed every white on the tier, all of whom wore white jumpsuits, for they had just gotten off bus and had no idea they would be attacked for being white. One died, and one vaulted the railing to avoid the stabbing blades broke both his angles on the concrete below.
Within hours all the assailants were in the hole, but none was indicated in outside court. George Jackson was transferred to Tracy, where he ignited another racial conflict. He got himself locked up and transferred to Soledad.”
Edward Bunker “Education of a Felon”
The following is a letter to me dated June 25, 1993 and in it Mike writes;
Dear Al
There may be worse things than being caught in the middle of a prison race riot, but frankly I can’t think of one.
Time: March 28, 1967
Place: D.V.I. Tracy, Ca
Event: Riot
Act 1:
Five thirty in the morning and the racking of the cell doors, shrilling sirens and glaring lights wake be from my dreams. It’s another day at the Deuel Vocational Institution at Tracy, California, but the sun doesn’t know it yet.
In my 6 X 8 accommodations, cellmate Lewis and I begin our daily routine. I dress first because of the bunk bed and combination toilet and sink in the cell we share, there is hardly enough room for both of us to stand at the same time, let alone dress. And because our world is governed by adrenaline diplomacy, the threat of violence is constant. Known and unknown grudges can be settled swiftly, perhaps fatally, if you let your guard down for even a moment. So Lewis stands watch outside the cell door.
I hurriedly wash my face in the chill, blackish water that dribbles from the spout. Since it is so cold, I take the precaution of shaking all my cloths out. Cockroaches make my shoes, pants, even my hair their home away from the cold. When I’m finished, I relieve Lewis from his position outside our door and allow him privacy to complete his dressing.
For the last three days all the inmates of “Deuel” have been in a high state of alert, anxiety, tension is higher than usual since Hightower, the hip coke-dealer from Compton was murdered. His throat was cut and he was left hanging upside down naked, in a shower stall.
The killing was blamed on the Aryan Brotherhood over a bad drug deal. But that’s bullshit. The drug deal rumor is bogus, intended to cover up the real reason Hightower was murdered; and every convict on the compound knew it. Hightower always had a thing for pretty white-boy punks, and it wasn’t that this punk hadn’t been putting out; it was that he hadn’t been putting out to Hightower. Jealousy, envy, who knows what was in Hightower’s mind when he tried to rape the pretty white boys ass, but one thing’s for certain, Hightower wasn’t thinking too straight when he did it. The white population of the prison didn’t stand for it and Hightower paid for his actions with his life.
But, as these things happen, Hightower’s brutal death has escalated into a “Black Thing”. To hear it on the compound, “One of the brothers has been done wrong, disrespected…We can’t let this shit go, man!” Battle lines have been drawn, sides taken, and the guards are taking bets.
Rumor has it that “it” is going to come down sometime this weekend, probably Sunday, but it could happen any day, any hour, and if it does, it can easily escalate into a full-blown riot of the worst kind – racial. Most riots are focused on the “bulls” – guards, staff – but when it’s racial the ugliness turns inward onto the inmates themselves: rapes, beatings, mutilations and often deaths. The guards won’t get involved – except to finally clean up the mess – because this vile, this violent, they know they’re helpless and apt to be swallowed up in the insane whirlpool.
So it comes down to every man for himself – or every fraction for itself: The Black Muslims, the Mexican Mafia, the Crips, the Bloods, the Aryan Brotherhood, the American
Indians from Comanche to Sioux, to your basic misfits, fruits, nuts, and vegetables, all fighting, all competing for a stake in power and control in an environment of only four square acres held loosely in check by guards who are really no healthier or better psychologically or emotionally, than the animals they watch over. It simply comes down to animals guarding animals… a cesspool in a pressure cooker!
Act 2
Lewis finishes dressing and we take a quick look outside our cell door, just to make sure everything is copasetic. I take first shift on the lookout for the bull. It is now time to armor down and to get our shit together.
Our armor is crude, but effective against the wide variety of custom – designed weapons each prisoner has fashioned for himself. National Geographic magazines are soaked in the toilet, two or three at a time, until they are soft. Then, with a pencil, each page is painstakingly pierced until there is an even hole running from the front cover all the way through to the back cover, at both the top and the bottom, strips are ripped from bed sheets and made into crude ropes, These strips are then threaded through each hole in the magazine, binding them side by side, ending up looking something like a woman’s corset. The result is, quite literally, armor plates all the way around your mid-section from under your armpits to the small of your back. Providing a knife blade doesn’t land between the magazines, these National Geographic’s make a pretty formable body protection. “Shanks” – homemade knives- enable us to walk to breakfast with a further sense of safety. Hidden in each of our mattresses, our shanks are made of Plexiglas, trimmed and sharpened on both sides. The Plexiglas was taken from Prison Industries and because it is plastic, it won’t set off the metal detector. The knife handles are made from wooden handles of a gardener’s spade, forced onto the end of the Plexiglas, then wrapped with sticky masking tape,
which enables you to get a tight grip, and best of all; no fingerprints. To be caught with a shank on you is an automatic sentence of five years, but to be caught without it could easily be a death sentence!
Ready now for breakfast, Lewis and I walk down the three flights of stairs of “Cell Block A”.
We reach the bottom door and zip up the old Navy “P” coats given to us for winter, and step outside onto the compound. The walkway is covered with slimy pigeon shit, frozen over in the winter-morning dew.
But we’re less worried about slipping and sliding on the frozen slime than we are with what may lay waiting in the shadows and corners that we have to pass to get to the “Mainline” cafeteria.
There exist two and only two types of riots in prison: One is literally spontaneous erupting over the smallest of incidents and spreading like wildfire. The second, more serious and
deadly is slow and calculated and includes well-planned physical and sexual assaults. The impending riot promises to be one of the latter.
As best we can, we keep our heads down against the cold Northern California winter wind, at the same time staying alert to danger, yet never making eye contact with anyone we don’t know or are not on speaking terms with. The wrong gesture, no matter how unintentional, or stare held too long, if not provoking, immediate reprisal, will most assuredly be accounted for if and when it finally comes down.
The cafeteria is already half full and it isn’t because of the great cuisine and atmosphere: It’s dangerous to lie in your bunk after the doors are racked open.
More and more convicts pile in, each morning to the self imposed area designated by his group. Lewis and I don’t belong to any particular group, we try to watch out for each other, but your race tends to automatically involve you in any altercation.
We find a good spot near the door. If it kicks down maybe we’ll be able to get out before the bulls lock everyone in from the outside. (This way, they hope to isolate the problem and let whoever are locked inside finish each other off, making it easier on them to deal with and, eventually, clean up.) A skinny, weasel like, streetwise kid named Three Fingers Sammy walks up to our table and nervously scans the cafeteria before looking for permission from us to sit down. He earned his name from losing the last two fingers of his right hand from cheating in a poker game.
“So what’s up, man?” he asks.
“You tell me.” Lewis says. “Why aren’t you sitting with your S.F.V. brothers?” Lewis asks without waiting for Three Fingers Sammy to respond.
“We’re cool. Hell, man, after losing these,” Sammy holds up his right hand in a gesture of bravado, “I’m their number one ace dude. I can get them shit no one else in this rat hole can get.”
“Yeah, right “I say. “Then why haven’t you got your weasel ass plunked down with your homeboys?”
“You’re in-hock, aren’t you Fingers?” Lewis asks.
“No big thing, man, just a little strapped.”
“Bullshit, Sammy! Your ass is in a sling, even with all this heavy shit about ready to kick off, they aren’t even signifying you and now you need some white boys to hang with, otherwise you’d have some big-dick daddy nigger making you his kid. Lewis tells him.
“Yeah Sammy, and we all know how they love a white boy’s butt!”
“Fuck you, man,” Sammy spits at me. “There’ll be blood on my shank before there’s any of my shit on some toad’s dick.”
“Yeah, okay. Right,” Lewis taunts him. “Sit down before someone thinks you’re taking our order.”
Sammy does one more, quick glance around and then, as if he’s lost all strength in his legs, falls into the chair next to Lewis.” When do you think, man?” he asks.
“Soon, I reply.
With nothing more to be said, the rest of us sit and watch as the cafeteria fills up with faces that never before braved the cold for hard biscuits and lumpy oatmeal.
“You know,” Lewis says, “When it kicks down, the snitches are really going to be in a hard way because they—“
“Good! Fuck them,” Sammy says. “They deserve it and more. Besides, why are you defending any snitch?”
“Fuck you,” Lewis spits into his face. “I’m just saying…never fucking mind!”
“Get out of my face, you nigger’s punk. Go find someone else to be your daddy.” Lewis shoves him hard in the shoulder. Sammy looks surprised, then glances over to where his friends are sitting, watching. No one makes a move in his defense.
He gets up, pride hurt, screams; “Fuck you!” at Lewis and storms off to another side of the cafeteria to a table where a psychopath named Oakie is eating his oatmeal with his fingers.
“Why in the fuck did you do that?” I ask
“I don’t know, man. He pissed me off. He’ll be okay. Look, see! Oakie has let him sit at his table.
“Yeah, but that’s only because Oakie is a serious booty bandit.”
“So what?” Lewis says. He’ll have protection. Besides, he keeps getting himself in debt he’ll need a daddy to keep him.”
“Lewis, you are one insensitive fuck!”
“Yeah, well, in here…”
The scream comes from the back of the cafeteria and echoes all the way down the aisles. A white man named Tank comes running out of the bathroom, his face streaming blood from two holes where his eyes had once been.
Lewis and I are up on our feet, but we’re immediately knocked to the floor by a rush of men trying to make it out of the cafeteria. The doors are slammed shut by the guards outside before we can get out. One man’s hand is caught between the door and the wall. His fingers are
crushed off and there are only bloody stubs remaining. He falls to the floor in excruciating pain and shock.
A gurgling scream comes from the left side of the cafeteria. Oakie is clutching at a carving knife imbedded in the base of his throat. With his left foot seemingly glued to the floor, he is pivoting in small movements, all the while staring upward with bulging eyes, frantically pulling at the knife handle. Sammy is nowhere to be seen.
While half the cafeteria has rushed to get out, the other half has prepared to go into combat. Looking around, Lewis and I see bands of three to five blacks advancing on less numerous whites, I turn a table over on its side, and Lewis and I drag it to a strategic corner. We pull out our knives and wait.
There is fighting everywhere. It looks like something out of a gladiator movie, but with less sophisticated weaponry.
Blind and bleeding, Tank has somehow made it near us and has huddled down in a fetal position, whimpering like a puppy dog, obviously going into deep shock. Lewis tries to venture out and get him, and for his efforts is struck across the head with a lead pipe. Dazed, his scalp peeled back and bleeding, Lewis falls back onto me behind the turned over table. He throws up all over me, and begins to mumble something about having to go out and feed his dog.
A black guy comes screaming out from behind the serving line with hot grease on his face, his skin streaming down like a pink river. Oakie now is lying face up in a sightless stare at the ceiling, the knife still deeply embedded in his throat. Sammy comes running, dodging the small groups of fighting men, seemingly untouched, but screaming out for Lewis and me. He looks bewildered and can’t find us; I see the knife lodged just under his shoulder blade. I stand up to call out to him, and there’s a whizzing sound over my head, then a painless pressure strikes
the top of my skull and the floor rushes up to me. There is a sound of braking glass and I can smell something, at first sweet and thick, then gagging. And I begin to dream. I am back home with my brother Al and family in North Hollywood, we are all sitting around the floor of our home and I am happy, so very happy.
Act 3
The voice is calling my name over and over again.
“Hey, wake up. If I have to lay here awake staring up at the peeling ceiling, so do you.” As if rising from the depths of a deep dark well, the voice pulls me away from my family. I move and feel something wet and slimy as I slide my skin across it. My left wrist aches something awful. Turning, I finally waken enough to realize I am in bed in the prison hospital. The slimy feeling is the old, unchanged bed sheets I’m lying in. Opening my eyes, I look up and see my left wrist has been handcuffed to the bed post. The side of my head is bandaged and the gauze hasn’t been changed in quite a long time.
“Man, I thought you were a goner for awhile,” Lewis says with a half-hearted smile. “You took a good one across the head. At least, that’s what they tell me.”
“Well, sidekick, you weren’t moving too swiftly either. In fact, I thought they’d taken you off the count too.”
“They did take Sammy off,” Lewis says, turning his head and looking away.
As soon as the riot began, Oakie was the first to be killed. Because he was so strong and crazy, the blacks figured he was one of the most dangerous whites, so he was to be killed as soon as possible.
As for Sammy, his instincts for survival helped him only for awhile. Trapped in the locked cafeteria, he could only move and hide so long. Sammy was a lot of things, but a fighter
he was not. All this time his strategy for survival had been his wits and crafty weaselness, none of which did him any good in this situation.
They caught him. Then repeatedly, with tag-team effort, they beat him. Then they dragged him by his heels back into the kitchen and systematically raped him, ripping his asshole wide open. And still they weren’t through with him! While still conscious, his dick was severed and stuffed up his bleeding ass like some perverted version of your old dear grandmother’s stuffed turkey. Finally, kicking and screaming Sammy Three Fingers was shoved into the large oven and broiled alive.
With only a mild concussion, I’m promised to be back to life as usual, lucky me.

5 thoughts on “Article on Background to Tom’s Story 6.14.2019

  1. I wonder how each of us would have reacted as a 19 year old to these type of events?

    In 1971 a nineteen year old Silverstein entered San Quentin in the middle of what Edward Bunker called a “War Behind Walls” in his 1972 Harpers Magazine article.

    Here are two excerpts from his memoir “Education of a Felon” Chapter 14, “Race War”:

    Page 266 “…they stabbed every white on the tier, all of whom wore white jumpsuits, for they had just gotten off bus and had no idea they would be attacked for being white. One died, and one vaulted the railing to avoid the stabbing blades broke both his ankles on the concrete below….

    Page 287 “Men without friends, those trying to quietly serve a term and get out, were in the worst predicament. They had no allies.”

    On page 144 Earley writes about this period of time in Silverstein’s life:

    “It was there, the bureau noted, that he first began associating with members of the Aryan Brotherhood. “

    On August 21, 1971, the year silverstein first went to San Quentin, George Jackson died a violent death in San Quentin’s Adjustment Center, reportedly during an escape attempt. Three guards and two white building tenders also died in what is now called the “Bloodiest Day” in San Quentin’s history, after being repeatedly stabbed and having their throats cut. Three other, similarly wounded, guards would recover.

    The Rise and Fall of California’s Radical Prison Movement:

    Page 172: In the eyes of San Quentin prison staff George Jackson seemed an almost superhuman threat, a super-convict now held personally accountable for each San Quentin guard death and suspected as well of being the elusive leader of the emerging Prisoners’ Union.

    In the eyes of black revolutionary prisoners he was the promised deliverer a shaman of revenge, the Dragon.

    (Tom once asked why his drawing of a woman wearing a gown with a dragon on it was confiscated. It was this reference that Jackson was a the dragon )

    To the Black Panthers outside he was the figurehead of a valued, but expendable, adventurist wing.

    And to white middle-class Left of the Bay Area George Jackson was at once a passive, suffering black martyr of America’s racist prisons and a defiant, super-masculine warrior role model for the revolution ahead.

    Page 187: By late 1970 the tone of San Quentin’s imported literature became noticeably more inflammatory and more practical rather than theoretical, including detailed diagrams and instructions on bomb and weapons manufacture.

    ….this change, well noted by prison staff, furnished the state with just the evidence of conspiracy it had so long desired and fueled moves toward a prison crackdown..…

    (The BOP used the murders of October 22, 1983 at Marion in the same way.)

    and the extreme Left read the prison movement exclusively in the exaggerated figure of George Jackson.

    Tragically, that script now seemed to both far Right and Left to make his death necessary.

    And after the carnage, predictably, the same script would allow prison authorities to blame his death on outsiders and to go on ignoring prisoners’ legitimate grievances.

    And imagine listening to the following at night shouted from cells surrounding you.

    Harper’s Magazine Feb. 1972 “War Behind Walls”

    Page 4, a religious doctrine of hate:

    “even white racist recognize their attitudes are no longer approved, to be shouted, whereas blacks are open in their racism.

    The catechism of Elijah Muhammad‘s Black Muslims that all whites are “beasts” that Moses raised on their hind legs and led from the caves has wide following in prison. Such doctrines seem absurd, but blacks with third grade educations and Baptist parents who inculcated them with an inability to function without some religion believe this doctrine as zealously as devout Catholics believe in the Immaculate Conception. Elijah allows them to have god and hate Whitey too….guards often seize writings proclaiming white genocide and the joys of bayoneting a pregnant white woman, see all blacks as animals, a direct threat…”

    What a sweet bedtime story!

    You can’t explain prison politics without race entering the conversation.

    Food for thought.

  2. Friends:

    I have carefully studied this Blog and forwarded some of the material to George Gramlich the Editor of the Sangre de Cristo Sentinel Newspaper based in Westcliffe, Colorado.

    Thinking Allowed…….

    Arthur Gerard Michael Baron von Boennighausen

  3. This is an excerpt from Edward Bunker’s article which is the atmosphere Tom encountered there:

    Harper’s Magazine Feb. 1972

    “War Behind Walls”

    Page 4, a religious doctrine of hate:

    …what increases racial polarization in prison beyond conciliation is the mutative leap in black militant rhetoric. This rhetoric is heard within prison walls by unsophisticated minds and gives those blacks that already hate whites a rational for murder. …

    Everyone understands that blacks have been brutalized by generations of institutional racism, and recently by inertia and indifference. What the sympathetic fail to grasp is that sometimes the psychological truncation is so great that it cannot be repaired. Nothing is left but hate. They have no desire—no motivation—for anything but revenge and a license for what they desire. Additionally they have decided that they are political prisoners. The black realizes that he has committed a crime, or has acted against the statures. However, the claim of “political prisoner” comes from the argument that he was formed by a corrupt system, that his acts are a result thereof, and therefore he cannot be held responsible. Secondarily, he feels he has never been a part of this system, but is still in slavery, and consequently the white laws do not apply to him. Such personalities are often found in prison, where the flower of black racism is blossoming, virulent and paranoid. Many white convicts are equally dangerous and intractable, but they at least intellectually accept their acts are wrong. And even white racist recognize their attitudes are no longer approved, to be shouted, whereas blacks are open in their racism. The catechism of Elijah Muhammad‘s Black Muslims that all whites are “beasts” that Moses raised on their hind legs and led from the caves has wide following in prison. Such doctrines seem absurd, but blacks with third grade educations and Baptist parents who inculcated them with an inability to function without some religion believe this doctrine as zealously as devout Catholics believe in the Immaculate Conception. Elijah allows them to have god and hate Whitey too….guards often seize writings proclaiming white genocide and the joys of bayoneting a pregnant white woman, see all blacks as animals, a direct threat…

    • I’ve written about my experience in San Quentin in 1969 when I was just 17 and headed to testify in my brother Mike’s trial.

      San Quentin

      By the end of the decade the prison’s feted Adjustment Center, that quiet oasis where it was promised the most difficult prisoners would get intensive psychiatric counseling, had been transformed from a symbol of reform-age progress into a cruel new dungeon filled with radical Muslims and other political “troublemakers.”

      Eric Cummins

      P. 91 “The Rise and Fall of California’s Radical Prison Movement”

      We arrived at the first gate of San Quentin outside of San Francisco around 8am. I noticed an art gallery to my right where inmates sold their art work. This made it possible for the inmates to buy the little extra things that make life on the inside a little more bearable. Many of these inmates are forgotten men whose families have long ago given up on them. The selling of their art work is a means of being self sufficient. I was impressed with what I could see through the window and wondered if they could have been able to make a living as an artist under different circumstances.

      For instance, I have since learned that between, 1953 and 1955, inmate Alfredo Santos, had painted 5 large murals for the main dining room depicting California’s history while he was still in his mid-twenties. These murals are in the style of Diego Rivera’s 1940 “Pan American Unity” mural located on nearby Treasure Island and in a testament to Santo’s skill his murals are still there as I write this.

      We pulled up to the main gate, then through it, and were unloaded in front of two large doors under the watchful eyes of the guards on the catwalk above us. I noticed as we climbed the steps how everything around us was weather beaten and damp from the ocean. The paint on the two large iron doors was peeling and they appeared to be the original doors from the 1850’s.

      Trustees swept the street around us peering over to see if they knew any of us and most likely to size us up. We entered the doors and were lead though some locked iron gates. Once inside we were made to line up against the wall. Then a few names were called out, these were the inmates arriving here to do their time. The selected inmates then entered a separate area where they were made to run their fingers through their hair. Then they had to stick out their tongues, lift it up, and move it side to side. The inmates were then patted down to search for weapons, and then made to strip down completely. Once naked the inmates were asked to raise their genitals to insure nothing was hidden behind them. After this humiliating inspection they were ordered to turn around, bend over and spread the cheeks of their buttocks. A guard with a rubber glove spread their cheeks even further one by one asking them to each cough in order to force any contraband to exit their rectum. Then as customary when an inmate arrives to a new institution, even if they are coming from another, the inmates were ordered to shower using a special shampoo to kill body lice.

      I always found these searches particularly humiliating even if I understood the security reasons behind them. The rest of us were processed the same way minus the shower. Afterwards we were taken down a hallway which connected two buildings necessitating the opening of gate after gate. I overheard that someone knew an inmate that was killed down one of the intersecting hallways coming back from visiting his family. Three guys using a mop ringer had beaten the inmate to death for a reason which the story teller didn’t give but race was an issue.

      One could still sense the effects of the January 12-16, 1967 Race Riot in such stories which were still reverberating strongly in these halls as we entered the chow hall. And by the time the 1967 “Summer of Love” arrived every peaceful-flower-child that arrived there had a cross to bear. As he walked, bound in his chains, through the cruel gauntlet that is San Quentin Prison, sadistic guards on one side, and leering sexual predators on the other, he may have paused with a tear in his eye to look beyond the ominous watchtowers towards the sky to ask, “Why has thou forsaken me? While just outside its walls the “New Left” had established what has since become known as “California’s Radical Prison Movement” in support of the civil rights of prisoners.

      The chow hall we ate at was very old and bore the scares of decades of abuse. The main difference between this dining hall and the ones I had eaten in before was that in this serving line you couldn’t see who was serving you the food. Only the arms of the server were visible due to a partition separating us at eye level. We stuck our tray under the partition to get our food while saying nothing. I sat down to eat taking in the sight of the others coming in and getting their meals. We had limited time to eat, and soon they came to collect our silverware, which was then counted, in order to assure that no one could use it to fashion a weapon later. After we left the dining hall, I was separated from the rest, and locked into a holding cell out of view of the others. The place seemed to tell a sad story of human misery, and the dampness seemed to radiate off the cold concrete walls. I felt a chill, and not having a jacket with me like the trustees outside, I struggled to warm myself. I rubbed my bear arms to warm them, as I searched the room for rays of sunlight. However, since my windowless cell was under an overhang, all sunlight was refracted from across the hallway. I wondered where I was inside of the prison, and the purposes of the buildings that I could see outside the windows across from my cell.

      I knew that this was where the death penalty was carried out and I couldn’t help but wonder if any of the buildings in sight now contained condemned men. It felt ominous to think of all the life’s lost here both to legal and illegal executions and I wondered if the poor victim’s souls were still held captive here.

      At that very moment, I could understand why Johnny Cash had written “San Quentin” and sang it here shortly before my arrival. It contained these words, “San Quentin I hate every inch of you, you bend my heart and mind and you warp my soul. What good do you think you do?”

      I was glad not to have time to find out if these words accurately portrayed the inmate’s true sentiments. I was eager to join the others on the bus for our next stop “The Correctional Training Facility at Soledad” or just Soledad to us.

      • The Correctional Training Facility at Soledad

        “When the prison doors are opened, the real dragons will fly out.”
        Ho Chi Minh

        Unknown to me at the time, the legendary George Lester Jackson, prison number A-63837, commonly referred to today as the Dragon, (from the Ho Chi Minh’s quote) had arrived from San Quentin in January of 1968. He would later be charged with killing a guard in retaliation for the shooting deaths of three black inmates. The inmates had been shot by a lone white guard during a brawl three days prior in what is now known as “The Soledad Incident” of January 13, 1970. Jackson along with two “Soledad Brothers” Fleeta Drumgo, and John Clutchette, as they were called by the press at the time, would dominate the newspapers of the era.

        Jackson had cofounded the very violent Black Guerilla Family prison gang in 1966 and following the “Soledad Incident” his Marxist-Leninist, revolutionary, ideology and guerilla foco tactics, took hold on both sides of the prison walls and resulted in the deaths of nine more prison guards and 24 inmates over the next year earning him the rank of Field Marshal in the Black Panther Party.

        On August 21, 1971, Jackson himself died a violent death in San Quentin’s Adjustment Center, reportedly during an escape attempt. Three guards and two white building tenders also died in what is now called the “Bloodiest Day” in San Quentin’s history, after being repeatedly stabbed and having their throats cut. Three other, similarly wounded, guards would recover. Jackson’s coconspirators Hugo Pinell, Johnny Spain, Willie Tate, Luis Talamantez, David Johnson, and Soledad Brother Fleeta Drumgo were known as The San Quentin Six and would go on to dominate the news cycle during their trials. The legend is that when Jackson released his fellow AC revolutionary convicts, he shouted, “The Dragon has come!”

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