Saturday, January 4, 2014

On-Going Race Wars Inside American Prisons: AB & BGF


The Aryan Brotherhood

The Aryan Brotherhood (AB) declared war on the Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) after a White convict named Robert Holderman was stabbed and beaten to death by Blacks at San Quentin in 1967. That incident is said to have been a big reason why the AB formed in the first place. In January of 1970, a large fight ensued on a Soledad Prison yard involving Blacks vs. Whites. AB member Billy “Buzzard” Harris was shot in the groin. AB's “Harpo” Harper and “Chuco” Wendekier were also involved in the incident. The Yard Gunner, C/O Opie Miller, shot and killed three Black inmates involved in the skirmish which infuriated the BGF who felt it showed favoritism towards Whites.

While there is no known hard proof they were distinct or very organized pre-AB groups, California Department of Corrections (CDC) staff called them by various names such as the Diamond-Tooth Gang, Bluebirds, NAZIS, and finally the Aryan Brotherhood (AB). They officially started in San Quentin (SQ) in 1967 and, per Minority inmates, were sometimes favored by the Guards. An AB member who was of Irish descent by the name of Jack “Red” Mahoney influenced the AB, also called “The Brand”, to use a "Shamrock" as one of their symbols. According to some prison gang experts, to be a bonafide AB you must have “the Rock”.

Some early AB’s were Eddie Vaughn (A-24437), Wayne “Bulldog” Ladd (A-37452), and William McGirk (A-64144) who had Mob ties. There was “Bucky” Garrett (A-66904), Carl Nooner (A71944), and Mark Duclas (B-33806) who all had ties to Washington State. Other early AB were “Tall Dennis” Murphy (B-47015) and Joe Morse (A-76005). There was Donald Hale (A88892) and Fred Mendrin (B-27246) who killed an NF member for La EME’s Joe Morgan in 1972. There was also Ronnie “Spots” Berg (B-6168), Tommy “Slim” Center (A-90434), Ronnie “Harpo” Harper (B-1716), Robert “Chuco” Wendekier (B-12961), Larry Witzig (B-16969), Mike Carmichael (B-33451), Eddie Burnett (A-77730), and Mervin “Moose” Forbes (B-18667). Paul Allen and George Harp also played major roles early on in the Brotherhood.

The AB is run by a Commission in California and in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) system. In 2012, the CA Commission consisted of John Stanton, Phillip Fortman, and David Chance. Some recent Federal Commission shotcallers were Barry "Red Baron" Mills (B-13776), Tyler "T.D." Bingham (B-17741), and Mike “Big Mac” McEhinney (B-94093). Both Commissions approve prospective members, make decisions on rules, and are responsible for resolving problems between members. The committee is also the authority which issues orders for “hits” or “contracts”  and the AB leadership expects their orders to be carried out.

Barry Mills was well-known to Cons throughout the United States. As a young man he was arrested in the Summer of 1967 at a bus stop in Ventura, California, and held for transfer to Sonoma County which had issued an arrest warrant for Grand Theft Auto. In December of that year, he was denied a request for probation and held at the Sonoma County Jail. On January 29, 1968, Mills and another inmate escaped from the Sonoma County Honor Farm. Mills was arrested a few weeks later in Windsor, CA, and held on an Escape Without Force charge. About a month later, he was sentenced to serve 6 months on the Auto Theft with 1 year and 1 day in state prison for the Escape charge. Mills was then sent to the CA Medical Facility-Reception Center (CMF) in Vacaville for intake. He was finally released in March of 1969 from the California Training Facility (CTF) in Soledad.

Approximately two weeks after the 1970 Soledad Prison incident where three Blacks were killed, Mills and his crime partner William Hackworth were arrested for robbing a Stewarts Point convenience store off Pacific Coastal Highway 1 that netted $775 dollars. Hackworth soon rolled on Mills who was sentenced to do five years in prison. Mills killed a Black inmate, Charles White, at San Quentin in 1970 allegedly because White had disrespected him during his prior prison stint at Soledad. SQ Prison authorities had placed White very near Mill’s cell.

Mills was also credited with the killing of inmate Garland Berry at SQ in 1977, but he was never convicted of it, and released at the end of that year. Mills was sent back to prison, this time to the BOP, for his role in a June 1976 bank robbery that was committed shortly after a release from San Quentin. In June of 1978, Mills was sentenced to serve twenty years for his role in the plotting of a Fresno bank robbery for $21K which took place two years earlier. He quickly decided he better make as big of a name for himself in the BOP as he already had done in CDC.

On May 20, 1979, Mills killed inmate John Marzloff at BOP-Atlanta. The hit was ordered by “Terrible Tommy” Silverstein because Marzloff had “burned” Tommy prior. Marzloff was nearly decapitated in a prison yard restroom by Mills who was backed up by the AB’s Danny Holliday. It is not uncommon for the AB to kill White inmates or even their own who they feel "broke the rules". The AB also committed multiple murders of Blacks, in particular Washington D.C. Blacks (DCB). The Author was interviewed by the Biography Channel for a segment called "The Baron of the Brotherhood" which focused on Mills and many vicious racial crimes that the AB committed.

In March of 2006, AB leaders Mills, TD Bingham, and Tommy Silverstein finally stood trial in a major RICO case. Prosecutors had hoped for the Death Penalty. Instead what they got was another Life Sentence on top of the “all day” time that they were already facing. Former ABs Kevin Roach, Brian Healy, Clifford Smith, Danny Weeks, and Glenn “Speedy” West all agreed to cooperate for the Prosecution testified against the AB. Long former AB shotcaller “Big Al” Benton was also called as a witness. Even though the AB have been hit with multiple RICO’s, they can still be dangerous on the street or in jail. There are many groups calling themselves AB in the U.S. but not all of them get along with each other.


The Black Guerrilla Family

The Black Guerrilla Family (BGF) was the most political of all CA prison gangs and were the most dangerous towards Police and Corrections Officers in the late 1960s through early 1970s. The BGF’s roots started in the California Department of Corrections (CDC) in 1966 as two groups, the Black Family and Black Vanguard, led by George Lester Jackson and W.L. Nolen. Jackson's group was also known as the Revolutionary Armed Movement (RAM) that aligned with the Black Panther Party, but he was locked up in prison years before the Panthers started. After the death of W.L. Nolen, Jackson merged with James “Bone” Johnson's group called the Black United Movement (BUM) and these groups all formed the early nucleus of BGF.

He became a revolutionary in prison and wrote several books including “Soledad Brother–The Prison Letters of George Jackson” and “Blood in my Eye”. After Jackson’s books came out he had almost celebrity-like status. His visitors would often call him "Comrade George" as Marxist-Leninists often do.

The following is typical of what Jackson preached, “Settle your quarrels, come together, understand the reality of our situation, understand that fascism is already here, that people are already dying who could be saved, that generations more will die or live poor butchered half-lives if you fail to act. Do what must be done, discover your humanity and your love in revolution. Pass on the torch. Join us, give up your life for the people.”

The BGF first gained the national spotlight as the "Soledad Brothers" on January 14, 1970, when three convicts, including W.L. Nolen, were shot to death by “Guard” O.G. Miller at Soledad Prison. One inmate present, Warren Wells, was known to the Author and worked years later as an Office Trustee at New Folsom-C Yard. The Author also directly dealt with many other active BGF and AB members locked up in prison and jail.

Three days after the incident, Soledad Corrections Officer John Mills was hurled to his death from a tier. The Soledad Brothers, George Jackson, Fleeta Drumgo, and John Clutchette, were inmates accused of being accomplices by murdering C/O Mills in retaliation for the murder of the three black inmates killed earlier by prison staff. Jackson was transferred along with the Soledad Brothers to San Quentin’s-Adjustment Center (AC) in the Summer of ’70.

On August 7, 1970, Jackson’s younger brother Jonathan Jackson burst into the Marin County Courthouse in a bid to free several BGF inmates on trial and took hostages to exchange for his brother George. With court hostages in tow at gun point, Jonathan and the BGF inmates made their way to a  rented yellow Hertz van. They were about to pull out of the parking lot when Marin County Officers and San Quentin guards opened fire. When the shooting stopped, Judge Harold Haley, Jonathan Jackson, inmates Christmas and McClain all lay dead in the van; inmate Ruchell “Cinque” McGee (A-92051) was unconscious and seriously wounded. After Jonathan and his fellow BGF member's failed escape attempt, George Jackson became enraged and sought revenge so he formed the “August 7th Movement”.

George Jackson was killed during a bloody escape attempt from San Quentin’s AC-High Security Unit in August of 1971 while he made a break for the prison gate with inmate Johnny Spain (B-8672) who later went on to became a college professor. Multiple staff and non-BGF inmates were also killed by Jackson and the BGF.  Prior to his death, Jackson became bitter towards the Black Panther Party, in particular Huey Newton, for what he felt was lack of support and direct action. In spite of this friction, the Panthers held security at his funeral and buried him with  honors as being a "Field Marshall" for them.

In California, the BGF are still a major security concern for authorities. They still commemorate the Jackson Brothers and the deaths of BGF like Jeff "Katari" Gaulden during "Black August Remembrance" (BAR). A major BGF symbol is a Black Dragon which symbolizes George Jackson surrounding a prison tower. Sometimes there is a Prison Guard being crushed in the dragon's claws.
The BGF are currently the #1 Security Threat Group within the Maryland Prison System (MDOC). Like California BGF, they started off-shoot groups to take the pressure off of them, but still attempt to control all Black inmates. State officials say the Black Guerilla Family, entrenched in Maryland prisons, is highly organized, deeply involved in the drug trade, witness intimidation, and is growing stronger on the streets of Baltimore. The Bloods and United Blood Nation are also strong in Maryland. MDOC prisons consider the BGF an organized crime family as they are involved in just about everything within prisons charging others for a percentage of their illegal profits.

To read more about the History of the BGF see: