‘How long since you had ice cream, Old Man?’ ’51 years,’ said Yogi and burst out laughing

by Tommy “Lil Jaboe” Williams

Respects to you for giving brothas a voice and love. I won’t lie in this letter nor put on extras out of respect and in honor of my brother Hugo “Yogi” Pinell.

Allegra Taylor visits with her father, Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, at New Folsom Prison on Aug. 2, 2015, only 10 days before he was assassinated. For over 40 years, he’d not been allowed to touch – or hug or kiss – his family when they visited him. They’d had to talk on a phone through a thick glass window.
Allegra Taylor visits with her father, Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, at New Folsom Prison on Aug. 2, 2015, only 10 days before he was assassinated. For over 40 years, he’d not been allowed to touch – or hug or kiss – his family when they visited him. They’d had to talk on a phone through a thick glass window.

I’m an inmate in New Folsom. I was housed in B2-111, five cells away from Yogi. Every day at yard time it was my honor and duty to escort him to the rec yard.

On Aug. 12, 2015, I did my normal routine. I waited for Yogi. I was also starting a new job as a clerk. I was called to my job, and I reported to my job.

Then I went back to yard. I saw Yogi at canteen with other Afrikans, waiting his turn. On this day, I’d planned on talking to Yogi about the old days.

The day before, he had brought me an ice cream and I joked, “How long has it been since you had an ice cream, Old Man?” He said, “51 years,” and burst out laughing to have been on lockdown for 40-plus years.

His spirit was amazing. He had jokes. So, back to my story.

I saw Yogi, so I said I’ll wait for him to finish and I’ll catch him before yard recall. So I went to the workout area on top of the hill.

I started my workout routine. In like my fifth or sixth set, I hear them attacking. I saw people running toward the canteen, and I observed two correctional officers run away. It was the canteen officers running like cowards. They didn’t even try to assist him.

So I immediately ran over to assist my people. I didn’t know it was Yogi being attacked. I just saw whites rushing in on Afrikans.

When I arrived to the canteen area, I was met by whites. I’m fighting white inmates. I hear they’re killing Yogi.

Once I hear that, I immediately fight my way to the canteen because that’s the last place I saw Yogi.

So I immediately ran over to assist my people. I didn’t know it was Yogi being attacked. I just saw whites rushing in on Afrikans.

I couldn’t focus because I just had eye treatment due to my sickle cell. But I get there; I see an Afrikan manage to grab a cane that one of the whites had and swing towards the whites, who were attacking Yogi, connecting to one white boy’s eye, which made it possible for us to grab Yogi and pull him away from their assault.

When I saw Yogi lying there bleeding, I started crying and went black. Now I’m sitting in the hole labeled an aggressor, charged with battery on an inmate with serious bodily injury.

All I did was defend myself and assist a brother, my brother, from being savagely attacked. But this I do proudly. Brother Yogi did it for me for 40 years.

My heart goes out to Sister Allegra Taylor and Yogi’s mom. If I could, I would trade places with him in a heartbeat.

When Yogi hit the yard, the unity just by his presence was beautiful. Afrikans from everywhere were one. Bloods, Crips, Bay Areas, non-affiliates – we were one. I myself am a member of the LA Hoover gang, but when we were walking laps with Yogi, all our differences didn’t matter. All that mattered was the love and respect, knowledge this man could give us.

When Yogi hit the yard, the unity just by his presence was beautiful. Afrikans from everywhere were one. Bloods, Crips, Bay Areas, non-affiliates – we were one.

RIP, Yogi! You showed me a strength that will stay with me forever. Fist to the sky for Yogi! Power always to the people!

P.S. My grandmother died this year, and her birthday was Aug. 12, 1930. I lost two angels this year!

Send our brother some love and light: Tommy “Lil Jaboe” Williams, K-29812, CSP Sac 2G-174, P.O. Box 290066, Represa CA 95671.