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Our outstanding lunches have been an Austin must for eleven years. Our international grocery features food and wine from around’ the world. Come see us at our new home. 1610 San Antonio Austin, Tex. 78701 472-1900 Hours: 7am 7pm Mon: to Fri. and 8am 6pm on Sat ANDERSON & COMPANY COFFEE TEA SPICES TWO JEFFERSON /WARE AUSTIN, TEXAS 7S’I31 512 453-1533 Send me your list. Name Street City Zip C_FAR INND A Walk on the Beach, A Breath of Fresh Air, A Discovery of A Shell, And Yourself .. . P.O. Box 8 Port Aransas, TX 78373 East Dallas Printing Company Full Service Union Printing 211 S. Peak Dallas, Tx 75226 share older histories and purposes going back several generations and spanning the Rio Grande. Both have traditions and origins associated with the organized crime families in Mexico and the Southwest, which act as pipelines for illicit drugs. Within the context of prison, the strength and cultural cohesiveness of the Hispanic gangs has generally defied infiltration by outsiders. But as the membership of white and black gangs grew in proportion to their violence against one another, so did the gangs’ need to subsidize their continued existence and survival through one of the few means possible in prison to make money. The problem of keeping drugs out of prison is a security problem that has never been adequately addressed because correctional officers have always been some of the lowest paid people around. It was the competition for drug sales, the violation of turf, which turned the usually complacent and safe grounds of TDC into a slaughterhouse. At the height of the gang-related killings in 1984, which claimed 25 lives, former Governor Mark White squinted into the camera lens and intoned, “We are at war.” He then seemed to make a career out of dodging the issue. Perhaps he was too busy signing death warrants of those “legally executed” by the state. It was a war that was lost the minute it was declared, a war the prisoners declared against themselves in which, like in every other war, innocent lives were lost. Empty challenges and meaningless deeds were carried out with no one realizing that getting even is forever impossible and that in this life, in or out of prisons, just getting by is the best we can hope for. What would happen when another body would hit the floor was that the lock-’emup mentality would go into automatic overdrive. A half-hearted search for weapOhs would be conducted; personal property would be destroyed or confiscated and lost forever; showers and hot meals and all movements outside of the squalid cells would be indefinitely suspended and the majority would be punished for the actions of a minority. A few blacks, a few whites, and a few more Mexicans would be moved to an ever-growing area of Darrington called Administrative Segregation where, more times than not, deals would be immediately made between the keepers and the kept: in exchange for information against other prisoners, one’s limited liberty could be restored. The level of distrust grew according to the number of prisoners locked up “under investigation.” The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend. Doing time on Darrington then was like a game of chance where the rules changed with each shift, every day, and the odds favored no one. That game ended on the night of September 8, 1985. In a flurry of mindless paranoia and flashing steel during that sultry Labor Day weekend, two members of the Texas Syndicate stabbed three members of the Mexican Mafia in a 45-second attack that left three bodies draining on the dirty dayroom floor. Prisoners around them had been watching TV or slapping dominoes on the tables, talking loudly to impress one another with a new twist on some old lies. Before anyone snapped to what was coming down, the body count jumped from 22 to 25 for that year. Before dawn the next day, another murder occurred on Ramsey II, just up the road. \(By the end of the year the large-scale riot, they said . . . and maybe they did. Thirteen units were locked down. During the subsequent shakedown of personal property, hundreds more crude weapons were found, surprising no one in prison but shocking legislators and their ‘ constituents and the media. Each in turn demanded harsher sentences for assault, for possession of weapons, and through that came harsher conditions which we live with today. I suppose we shall never rid ourselves of racism in America. It seems that we have become as addicted to it as we have to the standard response to violence and crime. Perhaps as a nation we are junkies, one and all, hopelessly addicted to the very things we say we fear and hate the most. And like any addict, we go to great lengths to preserve our supply of ready-made fixes. We preserve and encourage racism economically, just as we preserve and sustain violence in America through the harsh retribution found in life sentences given for car theft and death sentences meted out when we know that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is just so much vengeful bullshit. Perhaps most of all, we are addicted to the process of being Americans . . . and therefore somehow we are exempted from responsibility for our actions, and worst of all, exempted from learning from our terrible mistakes of the past. The past gives witness to prisons being brutal, horrible places where the condemned of society are crammed together in an atmosphere of virulent negation. The past gives witness to racist legacies and atrocities which represent the greatest threat I know to democracy and real freedom –” the freedom to be who you are and what you are without shame, without fear, without guilt or compunction . . . the freedom to live your life without someone not like you, by nature of their race or the balance in a bank account, making you feel that you’re unworthy, that you’re no damned good. Until then, we’re a mob of junkies, at war from within, addicted to the illusion of yesterday and helpless to find a lasting, valid peace in “this” world, or in the world we prisoners sometimes ‘think of as being free. O THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23