Hugo Pinell, aka Dahariki Kambon: Decades of assassination attempts against the man most feared by CDCr
by Haazim W. Muntaqim (Jeffrey Milo Burks)
I want to extend many thanks and appreciation to the San Francisco Bay View for providing us with great memories and genuine farewells from the family, brothers, sisters and friends of Brother Dahariki Kambon. He was and continues to be an inspiration to all who knew him, especially those of us behind these walls whose experiences and history will forever be entwined with his in ways most free people could never fathom, so I want to share some of this history with the readers.
I found it curious and a little alarming that no one has mentioned Yogi’s (I know him as Dahariki Kambon) life in the holes from 1968 to 1986, when plots to kill him were frequent occurrences that were obviously approved and orchestrated by San Quentin and Folsom’s prison administrators and guards manipulating prisoners. Perhaps it was decided to not mention these facts to avoid any chance of re-igniting old animosities and hatred between prisoners? That’s exactly what the CDCr is attempting to do after giving “tacit approval” in the murder of Dahariki.
For clarification, we are talking about the most feared man held by the CDCr, who it has been alleged was set up and murdered in New Folsom Prison only 12 days after his release from the hole, correct? Why not expose the true history?
I was taught: “History is like a clock. It tells you what time it is.” If we are serious about creating change and progressing forward, then the truth must be told.
Historically, the CDCr has used every trick and tactic available to them to derail and destroy the progressive movements, and their best tool, along with propaganda, has been their ability to turn prisoner against prisoner. This history will help shed light on what we can expect and tell us what we need to know today to avoid the tragic pitfalls of the past.
We all know the brother spent 46 plus years in solitary confinement, but it’s even more remarkable when details of his daily life experiences are revealed. After being labeled the most feared and hated prisoner, racist guards and inmates alike coordinated violent attacks against him as he maintained his stand for freedom, justice and equality.
I found it curious and a little alarming that no one has mentioned Yogi’s (I know him as Dahariki Kambon) life in the holes from 1968 to 1986, when plots to kill him were frequent occurrences that were obviously approved and orchestrated by San Quentin and Folsom’s prison administrators and guards manipulating prisoners.
I first met Dahariki at San Quentin’s infamous Adjustment Center (AC) Security Housing Unit (SHU) in 1980. I had heard of the brother and finally, on the exercise yard, he introduced himself to me as Dahariki Kambon.
I listened as he told others about a recent attempt made on his life at Old Folsom Prison in the 4-A SHU. That incident had led to him being sent back to San Quentin where the administrators made it very clear he was not welcome and he shouldn’t expect to be there much longer.
The Aug. 21, 1971, rebellion at San Quentin was still fresh in everyone’s mind. The administrators feared housing him at SQ.
Dahariki said the attack on him and other brothers was similar to the Soledad O-Wing incident Jan. 13, 1970, where a newly integrated yard was opened. When the exercise yard was opened, a fight occurred between African and White prisoners; a white guard shot and killed three Africans.
It was clear the entire incident was planned, as was the attack at Old Folsom, except, explained Dahariki, weeks before the exercise yard opened, the guards went into the cells of all the Africans assigned to that exercise yard and confiscated all of their property, leaving them with nothing in an apparent attempt to prevent them from manufacturing any types of weapons from materials in their property that could be used to protect themselves.
It smelled like a setup and when it came, the brothers surrounding Dahariki were able to repel the attack with weapons made from steak and chicken bones served with their evening meals. Dahariki received a stab wound to his thigh and a few others suffered similar minor wounds.
After the exercise yard was cleared, the guards reported finding a serrated edged knife and a buck knife in the area occupied by those who had attacked Dahariki. The administration, fearing retaliation after the botched attempt, immediately transferred Dahariki and several other African prisoners to San Quentin and Soledad prisons. Two months later, Dahariki was sent back to Old Folsom Prison.
This history will help shed light on what we can expect and tell us what we need to know today to avoid the tragic pitfalls of the past. We all know the brother spent 46 plus years in solitary confinement, but it’s even more remarkable when details of his daily life experiences are revealed.
Approximately six months later, word reached San Quentin that a prisoner had attempted to throw a bomb into Dahariki’s cell. Learning of those two incidents made me realize just how much Dahariki was feared and hated inside these prison walls by guards who were so thirsty for his blood that anyone who voiced a similar fear towards him instantly had at their disposal all the resources the guards could muster and more.
But these two attempts to kill Dahariki would pale in comparison to what took place over the next three years at Old Folsom Prison when the campaign by CDCr to kill the infamous Hugo Pinell / Yogi Bear / Dahariki Kambon intensified after each failed plot. Proof of these facts can be derived from reading the following documented incidents.
August 1983, I was moved to Old Folsom’s 4-A SHU. As I entered the first tier, Dahariki in the first cell greeted me and asked if I needed anything. I asked for some reading material.
Several hours later a guard set a large box containing 32 books in front of my cell. I had to reach through the bars to get the books, which ranged from African history, political ideology, science, socialism, communism, capitalism, revolutionary warfare and books on reading and writing skills. Those books contributed to the foundation of my re-education and personal growth.
Over the last 33 years I shared those books with numerous prisoners; some even wrote about their own experiences with Dahariki. Two of the books became my favorites and impressed me so much that I still have them, although both are in tatters and held together with tape and rubber bands: “The Black Jacobins” by C.L.R. James and “The War With Hannibal” by Livey. The generosity Dahariki displayed giving me those books I hope to have equaled over the years by sharing them with other prisoners I have met.
I had heard about the attempted bombing when I was at San Quentin Prison. Now when walking on the same tier at Old Folsom, I saw how desperate that act was. In the maximum security unit 4-A, before exiting our cells all prisoners are stripsearched and handcuffed behind our backs, including when going to and returning from showers, and the shower door is locked before the handcuffs are removed.
The circumstances of that bombing left no more questions in our minds; we knew what time it was. The prisoner was allowed to exit the shower stall, walk down the tier, retrieve a bomb made with match powder from a cell, light the fuse on the bomb and then tried to run back down the tier hoping to toss the bomb into Dahariki’s cell before it exploded.
He didn’t make it! The crude device blew up in his uncuffed hand taking a few fingers with it. The nickname “Fingers” became that prisoner’s merit badge among his peers, who somehow deemed that ridiculously insane act as valiant and worthy of honor despite it being carried out in collusion with the guards and failing miserably. Fortunately, the escorting guard avoided injury from the explosion because he just wasn’t there.
January 1984, Old Folsom Prison surpassed the previous year of unprecedented violence to become the most violent in the history of California prisons. A racial war ignited by the Integrated Yard Policy in August 1983. See my commentary on “The deadly ‘integrated yard policy’: Commentary on ‘The Pelikkkan Bay factor: An indictable offense’” published in the San Francisco Bay View Nov. 20, 2013.
The commentary exposes the illegal activities Folsom Prison administrators engaged in to create deadly violent situations between prisoners. During this period, Folsom’s administrators were under close scrutiny from the local media, courts and politicians after admitting they implemented the Integrated Yard Policy, which rekindled the racial violence between African and Mexican prisoners.
But their fanatical desire to kill Dahariki did not abate. Instead, the administrators believed that while their controlled violence scheme of pitting Africans against Mexicans raged on, drawing attention from concerned citizens, they would go unnoticed for their role in plotting Dahariki’s death.
Their fanatical desire to kill Dahariki did not abate.
January 1984 marked my 10th year in prison serving a seven years to life sentence. I appeared before the Board of Prison Terms and was granted a four-year tentative release date. The BPT wanted an extensive psychological evaluation on me and ordered me to take part in the Category X program offered at CMC Prison.
As I waited to be transferred to CMC Prison, I had no idea how the racist guards’ thirst for vengeance would set into motion deadly plots and conspiracies so insidious in design that only the criminally insane could have conjured them up. These plots were designed to kill Dahariki and those close to him. Some lost their lives. I lost my freedom.
On Jan. 28, 1984, Dahariki was stabbed three times by an African prisoner behind what was initially said to have been a personal dispute over the tier. However, this incident raised numerous questions after we learned that the weapon used to stab Dahariki was an 11-inch prison made knife with a shamrock carved into the blade.
It was unthinkable at that time that an African prisoner would attack Dahariki, but to do so with a knife furnished by the enemy who had been trying to kill Dahariki was unimaginable and totally unacceptable by many. Power corrupts and unlimited power was the carrot prison administrators waved in the face of prisoners desperately seeking relief from serving long terms in the hole, and the freedom to wield that power became the fuel behind unholy alliances between administrators and prisoners, which proved to be much greater than the untested loyalties – The Convict Code – prisoners professed to have towards one another.
On Jan. 28, 1984, Dahariki was stabbed three times by an African prisoner behind what was initially said to have been a personal dispute over the tier.
After the stabbing, Dahariki accepted “walk-alone” yard status, no longer willing to trust others. His longtime comrade, Haki Hodari Kambon (Edward Brooks), remained firm in his support of Dahariki and was highly critical of those he believed to be behind the stabbing plot.
Haki Hodari, not realizing “what time it was,” had placed himself in the path of a broad conspiracy that had been designed and implemented in January 1984 by the most corrupt and criminal minded prison guard of that time, Sgt. Jimmy Patrick Walker. Sgt. Walker gave prisoners the “green light” to kill Dahariki and directed his fellow guards to allow it to take place.
After the stabbing was carried out, Sgt. Walker realized the potential power he had over the prisoners he had conspired with and sought to get their help in stopping the racial war that was raging out of control throughout the prison and bringing so much attention to the entire prison administration. Sgt. Walker held a “Get Out of Jail Free” card and offered it to prisoners who readily accepted it, but first they had to stop the voice of Haki Hodari, who threatened to expose what had already taken place between Sgt. Walker and his crew.
Prisoners’ lives are worth less than cannon fodder to prison administrators seeking to get what they want. Sgt. Walker agreed to allow Haki Hodari to be killed to gain greater leverage and trust from the prisoners.
March 24, 1984, after the release of African and White prisoners to the exercise yard, separated by a cyclone fence, Sgt. Walker and four guards stood at a first tier window inside the 4-A security housing unit to witness the brutal stabbing death of Haki Hodari Kambon (Edward Brooks), who was stabbed 10 times by two assailants who are taken off the exercise yard immediately after the gun tower guard fired a warning shot into the ground.
I was on the exercise yard and saw the incident take place while standing on the basketball court in front of the first tier window. I was not involved in the attack nor was there any indication from the gun tower guard that he suspected my involvement.
Five hours later, Sgt. Walker stopped at my cell to tell me the gun tower guard reported seeing me stabbing Haki Hodari and another prisoner! I objected to that lie and told Sgt. Walker that I was not involved, and to my surprise Sgt. Walker stated:
“I know you weren’t involved. I was at the window watching you play basketball. You had the ball in your hand; when the gun tower guard (Stafford) fired the first warning shot, you sat on the ball with your back against the wall.”
Sgt. Walker claimed he knew I was innocent and would back it up with a written chrono and said he would appear at my hearing to exonerate me. Relieved that my four-year release date was still intact, I waited. Sgt. Walker failed to write the chrono, failed to appear at my hearing and subsequently perjured himself along with four other guards at my trial by claiming they were searching cells when the incident took place.
On the sole testimony of the gun tower guard, I was convicted four years later of first degree murder despite the testimony of the two prisoners who were taken off the exercise yard minutes after the stabbing.
Both were photographed with cuts and blood on their hands, and both confessed days after the murder and at my trial that they had stabbed Edward Brooks to death. And their confessions were supported by 11 eyewitnesses who pointed out the two assailants who had confessed.
African people have long suffered from miscarriages and travesties routinely served to us via the American judicial system, but we persevere and at times prevail. It took me 22 years to uncover the path of conspiracies littered with the lives of prisoners who were used and discarded like soiled tissue paper by Sgt. Walker and the prisoners he worked with at Old and New Folsom prisons.
African people have long suffered from miscarriages and travesties routinely served to us via the American judicial system, but we persevere and at times prevail.
In June 1984, prison conspiracies buried under the “Green Wall of Silence” weren’t easily uncovered and the following plot would have remained under the wall if Folsom prison administrators had not been forced to take back a 32-caliber pistol and bullets from a prisoner who reported that he was offered the “prestigious hit” to kill Dahariki after he exited the 4-A building under escort to the prison visiting room.
The route to the visiting room ran through the mainline dining hall filled with prisoners, then up a dangerously obscured flight of stairs that leads into Building 2, where mainline prisoners are housed. This route was known among prisoners as “The Death Steps” because assailants would lie in wait at the bottom and top of the stairwell and attack their target from both entrances. Once inside there was no gun coverage for the victim and the guard.
Such an attack was usually reserved for high profile criminal informants, child molesters and serial rapists. The prisoner who exposed the plot said the gun and bullets had been given to him by an unknown guard with that specified plan to maximize success, and he was assured that he would not be charged for the crime.
But soon he began to fear the guards were also trying to set him up after the plan was changed and he was instructed to sit at one of the dining tables and wait for Dahariki to walk by, stand up and then shoot him in the head twice in front of witnesses and the gun tower, where he was likely to be killed or worse: charged with murder, convicted and sent to death row.
This failed attempt to kill Dahariki posed the most serious threat to his life to date and raised many questions about Folsom prison administrators’ ability and willingness to control the outrageous violence at the prison and to protect Dahariki from rogue guards. Their response to ensuring Dahariki’s safety was to isolate him further away from the public eye by building a one man visiting booth in the basement of the 4-A security housing unit! Long before PeliKKKan Bay and Corcoran’s torture chambers were built, Dahariki was being subjected to isolation, deprivation, mental and physical abuse.
This failed attempt to kill Dahariki posed the most serious threat to his life to date and raised many questions about Folsom prison administrators’ ability and willingness to control the outrageous violence at the prison and to protect Dahariki from rogue guards.
The isolation did little to diminish the threats against Dahariki’s life because those responsible for his keep were the same group scheming and conniving to spill his blood – often in broad daylight for all to see, just as they did with the Integrated Yard Policy, which by the end of 1984 had been the main cause of the six deaths and 109 stabbings at Old Folsom Prison.
In the first six months of 1985 at Old Folsom Prison, there were 114 stabbings and three deaths as Sgt. Jimmy Walker prepared to release his crew of “peacekeepers” to the mainline. These were the shot callers he had established a mutual trust among after allowing them to carry out stabbings and murders in the security housing units.
They were instructed to bring about a truce among the rival groups. A meeting between all groups took place in July 1985, and the racial war was stopped. On Oct. 16, 1985, Sgt. Walker activated the “Get Out of Jail Free” card, orchestrating the release of his peacekeepers into the mainline to enforce the truce between rival groups.
In the first six months of 1985 at Old Folsom Prison, there were 114 stabbings and three deaths as Sgt. Jimmy Walker prepared to release his crew of “peacekeepers” to the mainline.
In October 1985, Robert Borg became the warden of Old Folsom Prison. He was fully apprised of the previous administration’s efforts to quell the violence at the prison, including Sgt. Walker’s alliance with the shot callers and his agreement to release them to the mainline.
In his sworn declaration of June 10, 1991, on page 3, line 13, Warden Borg states, “In early 1985 and particularly in 1986, prior to the opening of CSP-SC (New Folsom Prison), Old Folsom experienced an unprecedented outbreak of violent assaults by inmates housed in the general population.”
“After my arrival at Folsom in October 1985, I met with representatives of the BGF, EME, ABs and other street gangs and informed them that the violence would not be tolerated and had to stop.” Perhaps it was not clearly explained to the new warden that Sgt. Walker had given his peacekeepers the green light to enforce the peace treaty just as he had given a green light to other prisoners to kill Dahariki and Haki Hodari.
On Oct. 16, 1985, the day the peacekeepers were released, there was a fatal stabbing; Oct. 28, a fatal stabbing; Nov. 2, a fatal stabbing; Nov. 15, a fatal stabbing; and Nov. 20, a stabbing resulting in the death of a prisoner on the mainline. By Nov. 20, 1985, a 34-day period, there were five stabbing deaths and 34 other stabbings.
Prison officials, acting like they had no clue, released a statement saying, “Last month, we hoped the number of knife attacks would dwindle after a truce was called in a war between Hispanic and Black inmates who belonged to gangs.” In an attempt to explain away the violence and cover their own tracks, prison officials informed the public that many of the victims of the recent violence were rapists and child molesters. The implication was clear: The victims were throwaway people who deserved what they got!
On Nov. 25, 1985, the prison recorded 200 stabbings and eight deaths, and at the end of this statement, prison officials inconspicuously announced that components for a potential bomb were found the previous month among boxes in the prison’s industrial section, where inmates manufacture license plates and other items.
The fact that administrators waited an entire month to inform the public after finding such a deadly destructive device is an indication of the level of criminal insanity the administration had fallen to. Apparently the prison hoped to cover up once again an insidious plot to kill Dahariki Kambon, but the story was leaked out and the prison had to reveal the truth.
David P., a mainline prisoner, had turned over to guards C-4 explosives which he claimed had been smuggled into the prison as part of an elaborate plan to build an explosive device in the license plate factory, transport it back to the housing unit and with the help of guards get the device into the 4-A housing unit, where it would be used to kill Hugo Pinell. David P. revealed the names of the prisoners and guards involved in the secret plot, and two weeks after informing on guards and his cohorts, David P. allegedly committed suicide on the third tier of 4-A security housing unit and was last seen at midnight being carried out on a stretcher with his personal property.
How did the prison administration get away with such blatant disregard for human life and the law? Why did society refuse to accept the truth as it stared them in the face? This is what happens when the CDCr locks its doors and doesn’t allow society to see what goes on behind those doors.
The CDCr carried their personal vendetta against one prisoner for over 40 years and, with each attempt to kill Hugo Pinell, their complicity became more obvious.
Throughout the entire period that I saw Dahariki, he endured the isolation and oppression in the same staunch manner as he faced the violent assaults and attacks. He didn’t bemoan his personal plight and never demanded special consideration for himself; instead, his example was like a beacon leading and guiding others who dared to struggle.
The CDCr carried their personal vendetta against one prisoner for over 40 years and, with each attempt to kill Hugo Pinell, their complicity became more obvious.
On Dec. 24, 1986, all prisoners housed in 4-A security housing unit are abruptly shipped across the street to New Folsom high tech maximum security prison. This new high tech prison, designed for maximum control of prisoners, also forced the guards to have to control their lust for Dahariki’s blood. There were no blind spots nor any opportunities for the guards to set up prisoners as easily as they had done at Old Folsom and gotten away with it.
For the next 29 years, the new high tech security housing units at New Folsom, Corcoran and PeliKKKan Bay would prove to be the most degrading torture chambers for Dahariki and thousands of other prisoners, but they would not break them as they were designed to do.
Instead, the repressive conditions of solitary confinement and psychological abuse engendered a collective spirit rooted in a common cause among the prisoners so powerful that it became impossible for the administrators to utilize the racist propaganda they had relied upon in the past to turn prisoners against one another.
The recent victory won by the prisoner hunger strikers, the “solitary settlement” in Ashker v. Brown, is indicative of the solidarity among prisoners today, and it is for this reason I am sharing my story and history of Dahariki Kambon. We must carry on the spirit of what he stood for; his fight was against the racist oppressors and their cruel laws and policies of injustice and inequality.
When remembering our brother, those of us who knew him, who saw the hellish conditions he faced daily, know that he never wasted his energy on those who had been manipulated by the enemy. He used his wisdom and understanding of the circumstances to guide us in the correct way to struggle.
He gave so much of himself and asked for little in return. We must share the whole story and tell the truth of an extraordinary brother who refused to give up and stood firm on the principles of truth, justice and righteousness.
We must share the whole story and tell the truth of an extraordinary brother who refused to give up and stood firm on the principles of truth, justice and righteousness.
History tells us what the CDCr has always done to destroy the progressive movements that came into existence to combat repressive conditions, and the current situations are no different than the past. The CDCr wanted Dahariki dead, but more important today is their objective to maintain control over prisoners.
By giving their tacit approval in the murder of Dahariki, they quenched their thirst for his blood and hoped that his death would rekindle the old racial animosities across the state and destroy the unity and solidarity among prisoners. The focus thus far remains on changing the landscape inside these camps, but be aware, my brothers; they are not done. So we have to keep constant vigil and keep the truth in front, and we will prevail.
This story is taken from documents and reports, including Sacramento Bee articles and Folsom Prison records, I have obtained litigating the murder charge I was framed for by Sgt. Jimmy Walker and my own personal experience at Folsom Prison from 1982 to 1991. “Just being innocent is not enough.” I am still fighting for my freedom. If you can help right this tragic wrong, go to www.set-jef-free.com. For more information and facts supporting my case. I can also be reached at Set-Jef-Free, P.O. Box 1223, Moreno Valley, CA 92556-1286.
Send our brother some love and light: Jeffrey Milo Burks (Haazim W. Muntaqim), B-64401, D1-244, P.O. Box 5007, Calipatria CA 92233-5007.
Poem for Hugo Pinell
by Vincent Crama (Kubwa Bobo)
Did 51 years in a prison cell,
And regardless of what people say, he didn’t fail.
He was 71 years old
And still didn’t fold,
So they killed him knowing his life couldn’t be sold.
When you project being strong,
You are considered wrong,
And the consequences can be that your life ends up
It took for the system to kill him,
And it didn’t happen on a whim,
It was deliberately done by them.
Hugo Pinell helped me to grow,
While we all faced death row.
Hugo taught me about unity and strength,
And what it truly meant,
But that some of us had to die for it to be relevant.
I knew Hugo personally,
And he showed why learning knowledge was an urgency,
In order to survive the punishment to fight to be free.
San Quentin was a battlefield,
And you either backed down or picked up some steel,
As you faced the real deal.
I did time in the Adjustment Center,
Where George and Hugo fought to be winners,
And I became one of the contenders.
That is where I met Pinell,
And he told me to fight against this living hell,
And to never subject myself to the mentality of being enjailed.
I went through some rough times,
But kept my heart and mind,
As I continued to search and find.
I’m no George Jackson or Hugo,
But, based on what I’ve done and know,
In the past I quickly learned who was my foe.
When my mind grew,
I became a threat too,
And the prison administration labeled me a part of A crew (a revolutionary).
I, too, have been set up in prison,
But fortunately I’m still living,
And that is a rare given.
If you read literature and books,
Based on them type of brothers and what it took,
You may have to face the game with only your rooks.
You would be labeled and punished if you resembled Pinell or George Jackson,
With severe action,
And history shows the many times it has happened.
I remember when I named a brother “Baby George Jackson.”
You should’ve seen the institution’s reaction,
They said, “That’s not happenin!”
They threatened him with validation,
While I contemplated retaliation,
But at the end he said na-than.
We can no longer order or get George Jackson books or literature,
Because in the system’s eyes he was too sinister,
But to his people, he was a minister.
It was once constituted and prohibited to learn,
And the consequences was either to be beaten or burned,
For taking the wrong turn.
Why do you think they did that?
Because when you’re smart you know the facts,
And therefore a target can be put on your back.
Knowledge is a threat,
Only because you can stand up and contest,
And have the potential for you and others to be your best.
Why do you think the system has killed all of our leaders off,
And at what cost?
It was because of their knowledge and the fact
They couldn’t be bought.
The fact that knowledge can uplift and change others,
Is why they must keep you smothered,
And away from your brothers.
If your knowledge can benefit them,
And you’re working for Jim,
Then that’s the only way you can go out on a limb.
Now you know why Hugo Pinell was a target
To be hit,
With the impression that he wasn’t shit.
The media has always put him down,
Mostly for spreading knowledge around,
And for being Brown.
To take away the head
Means to be dead,
But millions of people still remember what he preached,
And what he said.
He preached about freedom,
Regardless of the background you came from,
Because he believed you can have some.
Why is it wrong for us to learn the truth?
Because it illustrates proof,
And can build you up too.
The truth also means that you’re no longer living a lie,
And in some cases you may have to die,
Because you’re a new person inside and wanting to ride.
Brother Pinell, Rest In Power!
Because your strength is now a part of ours,
And what you stood for will never sour.
Send our brother some love and light: Vincent Crama (Kubwa Bobo), D-65555, P.O. Box 5007, Calipatria CA 92233-5007.