Riot at Ely State Prison: It was a battle!


by Coyote Sheff

There was a riot here at Ely State Prison that took place in the most restricted unit, 4B and 4A. It lasted from Jan. 31 to Feb. 1. It was a battle!

There has been a lot of changes here at ESP that all started on Nov. 23, 2009. Rather than giving us anything to look forward to or any real incentive by implementing any constructive or productive programs, the administration has maliciously taken things away. Canteen privileges, appliances (radios, TVs, CD players and the like) and visits have all been stripped away from us so they can hold these things over our head and use them as a control method.

On Nov. 23, 2009, all of the prisoners who are serving “Disciplinary Segregation” were moved and placed in Unit 4, A Wing and B Wing, and Unit 3B. They intentionally made 4B the worst tier in this prison by strategically placing protective custody inmates and mentally ill inmates all around us on this tier, while taking appliances away, so that we have no choice but to be subjected to the everyday torture, sensory deprivation and psychological warfare deliberately placed on us by these PCs and mentally ill inmates, who constantly scream, bang, verbally assault other prisoners, snitch and inform on us and several other tactics they do to make us miserable that I cannot explain.

Not to mention the guards on this unit are the most strict, the most petty, spiteful, vindictive and retaliatory guards in this prison. These guards have intentionally gone out of their way to provoke us on several different occasions. They have taken appliances, including mine, away from inmates who committed rule violations prior to Nov. 23, 2009 – which is against policy – and prisoners who have been found guilty of minor and general write-ups have had their appliances confiscated, and even prisoners who were found not guilty of minor write-ups had their appliances taken away!

To top that off, prisoners who have gone two months without their appliances still have not had their appliances returned to them in spite of what the policy states, and the staff are not answering kites (written messages) or making any efforts to try to get the appliances returned to these prisoners.

Year after year it is take, take, take, and it has gotten to the point where we got fed up with this. We have said enough is enough. We needed to get things off of our chest!

Prisoners on 4B, including myself, kicked off a riot by flooding, burning, capturing food slots, popping sprinkler heads, forcing the guards to gear up and extract us from our cells so that we could fight with them! At least eight guards dressed in full riot gear and helmets would line up and run in our cells, trying to beat us into submission.

We fought hard and we took it to them. Many of us were successful at disarming them of their electrical shield, making sure to get our hits in before they wrapped us up and beat us down. One prisoner even got out of his cell and hit a guard so hard in the helmet that the face guard broke off!

When it was all said and done, there were over 16 cell extractions on both wings, totally three prisoners were sent to the infirmary, one of those prisoners was sent to the hospital outside of the prison because of head trauma, but the other two were returned back to their unit two days later. There was so much blood everywhere – in the cells, on the tier, in the sally port, in the hallway and on the walls – it was crazy! It was a battle!

Every guard that was on the extraction team received some type of injury. Each one had to see the nurse about something. One guard, allegedly, got stabbed during a cell extraction. He was laid out in the sally port being operated on by the nurses for about 45 minutes before he was carried out on a stretcher. After that, the guards’ spirits were deflated and they refused to run in on anybody’s cell. They showed their fear and defeat by their use of chemical agents from here on out.

We battled hard! Whites and several Latino prisoners from different factions all came together, successfully building an army in 20 minutes to fight together and take a stand! Guys that normally would not even talk to each other came together to take it to these swine.

Every one of us who got extracted received a black eye, bloody nose and many lumps and bruises, but we are proud of these battle wounds! At least I’m proud of mine! There were many foul and unprofessional acts done by the guards that directly violate the policies of the institution, and an investigation is being pursued. We are taking this as a victory.

The guards bowed down before we were ready to stop fighting. They extracted me from my cell. I quickly disarmed them of their electrical shield and got a few licks in before they wrapped me up. When they brought me back to my cell, Latinos, Whites and Blacks were all chanting my name and cheering me on. It felt good.

This is not my first riot but it was definitely the best. It’s so good to see solidarity in action, to see prisoners of different races and factions coming together like this. We need more solidarity before we can really start making positive changes in this system!

Resistance and sacrifice,


ABC-Nevada Prison Chapter, Ely State Prison

For more information, or letters of encouragement and support please contact me at this address: Coyote Sheff, 55671, P.O. Box 1989, Ely, NV 89301.


  1. Hello: I’m the president of the student council of city college of san francisco, at southeast campus. I would like to request if I can have the SF Bayview send me once a week about 30 copies of your circulation sent to me for the students, so they can be informed about their community. Our address is: 1800 Oakdale, San Francisco, CA 94124. If you have any questions, you may call or email me. Thank you for your support.
    Victoria “Vicky” German
    Interim President
    Associated Student Council
    City College of San Francisco
    Southeast Campus
    1800 Oakdale, Room 406
    San Francisco, CA 94124

  2. This is a very informative and impressive artical. I whole heartedly and 100% emphasize with and understand the prisoner’s revolk at Ely. For they are human beings and as such should be treated as humans and not less than human. I experience a similar situation here in Newyork City, at a shelter where I current reside because of the insenseitivity of the staff who runs it and due to the hostility of some of the housing police who work there of whom some of we residents had a hostile verbal confrontation with.

  3. I don’t care who they are or what they were convicted of I don’t think that any prisoner should deserve to go through what you have endured. This is not right. The prisoners in this institution are just like everyone else and should be treated like it. Just because they need that extra guidance in their life doesn’t make them any different.

  4. They are in prison for committing a crime. I have never been to jail or prison and will continue to not go to prison because I choose not to. This is easy to do, most people are naturally instilled with a sense of right and wrong, if you need extra guidance pick up a penal code book and find out if what you think is questionable is illegal or not. Pretty easy huh? There are honest, law abiding people that work 40 hrs+ a week scratching out an honest living that cannot afford "appliances". I think that is criminal in it's own right. This is why criminals have more rights when they enter the justice system. If your homeless and need dental work or medical needs to live- good luck with that. Take the same homeless person and have him stab someone or molest a child and now he's in prison and is entitled to medical and dental care that people with benefits from their jobs can't even get. Shut up, do your time and lock down- all on the tax payers dime.

    • This coming from someone who takes their morality from a piece of paper and obviously at least has the appliance of a computer hooked up to the internet. Nice lack of compassion, you scum.

  5. I use to work at ESP, the reason they get items taken away is because there is nothing else you can do to discipline them for bad behavior. These are the most dangerous and unruly inmates in the entire prison. If they have been on good behavior for what ever length of time they were to be without their property, then it would be returned to them. It’s fair as far as I am concerned. Just behave!

  6. This man was not involved in the riot, not even in the same unit. This inmate neglects to tell everyone what it is that he did to put into prison, and way he is always locked down. This inmate is staff assualted, continues to make weapon's to go after staff, when they try to feed him, or take him to yard, or even the shower. He will throw his fece's out his food slot if he has a chance. Why don't the ones that feel bad for these scum's, go and tour the prison, and hang out for a day or so and watch how badly they are treated. When there is extraction's there is a camera on the cell. So again, come and experiance the life a of a correctional officer and see what they really put up with on a daily basis. Some of the inmates are decent, they are in there doing their time, but the ones, like Coy Sheff, not Coyote just cause problems. So before you really feel bad for these scum's, find out the truth.

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