by Ronnie Yandell
On Feb. 4, 2019, I was sitting in my cell in Ad-Seg STRH H-195 in California State Prison Sacramento, known as New Folsom Prison, reading a book, when around 10 a.m. the floor officer advised me that I was being transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison.
On Jan. 23, 2019, I had been told by Associate Warden Peterson at my committee hearing that I would remain in Ad-Seg pending investigation over an alleged kite supposedly found in a routine cell search at Pelican Bay State Prison. Because I was told this, I knew my transfer was not sanctioned through normal procedures.
So, I told the officer I wasn’t going. I knew the Institutional Gang Inspectors (IGI) were trying to back-door me. Next, Lt. Cross tried to convince me to go, which again I denied. I told her this was a shady move by IGI and that Pelican Bay tried to frame me.
I knew my life was in danger due to my participation as a hunger strike representative and co-author of the “Agreement to End Hostilities” manifesto between all races. When I was released from Pelican Bay Security Housing Units (SHU) in 2015, IGI said I would “one day pay for it.”
Those of us released within the last five years from the SHU Short Corridor back into General Population (GP) due to the hunger strike have mostly held the agreement across California, bringing prison racial violence to a historic low.
The prison industry receives more money with the more violence they have to manage. This explains the resurgence in IGI-forced gladiator fighting between races recently. They are desperately trying to keep us fighting.
Lt. Cross told me she didn’t have the authority to override the transfer order. She contacted Sgt. Cline and Correctional Officer Ramirez, who works for the Investigative Security Unit (ISU). They both told me they weren’t aware of this transfer and promised to look into it. They returned later and told me they couldn’t contact anyone with enough rank to stop the transfer.
I truly felt I would be killed on the way up to Pelican Bay – “We stopped for gas, and somehow Yandell got out of the SUV, and we had to shoot him in the back.” So I told everyone that this smelled like a set-up, and I was going to defend myself. Of course, the puppets told me I was going willingly or by force.
Then Capt. Riley came, claiming he could not contact anyone either. So he ordered the assault on my cell.
Around 12:45 p.m. on Feb. 5, the assault team showed up, dressed in their chemical suits, gasmasks, combat helmets, football masks, kneepads and elbow pads. With Capt. Riley, Lt. Cross, Sgt. Johnson, Correctional Officer Vang came the assault team members, who were Correctional Officers Read, Crume, Esquerra and Deitchman.
Understand this: Legally, they can’t use chemicals or force against a prisoner unless he is a threat to himself or others. What did they do? They sprayed a burning chemical on me inside my cell for over 20 minutes, trying to suffocate me and get me to the point where I could no longer see. Though my skin was melting off me, I wouldn’t cuff up. I just couldn’t go out like that, like sheep to slaughter.
Then, the assault team breached my cell and rushed me. They were striking me with metal batons across my forehead, busting it open, and striking my body. After the assault, I was removed from the cell in handcuffs and leg restraints. I was seen by medical staff that just placed a bandage over my forehead injury to stop the bleeding, and cleared me as fit.
I found out later my wife inquired why they cleared me for transport, a seven-hour ride up to the Bay, without checking to see if I had internal bleeding or a concussion, without giving me an MRI or x-ray. You know what my doctor told her? “What injuries?” There is no record in her computer of medical even seeing me on Feb. 5. She is investigating why that is.
So, they put my burnt, beat-up body in an SUV for transport. We started the journey to who knows where, headed out of Sacramento. We were about 20 minutes on the highway to hell when the escort correctional officer gets a call. Ring-a-ding, ring-a-ding-ding. “Hello? Who? Oh, yes, sir. Yes, sir.” He hangs up and the other cop says, “Who was that?” “Warden. He said to turn our asses around and bring Yandell back to New Folsom immediately.”
Yep, just as I suspected the entire time, Pelican Bay and IGI was trying to kidnap me. Warden Lynch never knew about it or signed off on it. And I found out later that Associate Warden Peterson was notified the day I was being transferred, and he OK’d it, as Warden Lynch wasn’t there that day so Peterson was acting warden.
So, who stopped the transfer that day? It was someone from CDCR headquarters in Sacramento that got wind of it and put a stop to it. That means it was someone with higher rank than a warden. I was told CDCR has egg on their face over what happened and are embarrassed.
Even prisoners who go to the committee and get endorsed to be transferred legitimately still have refused to transfer and nothing happens to them. I’ve witnessed it multiple times in here. So why did they assault me for a transfer that wasn’t approved through proper procedures? Whoever got wind of it and put a stop to it absolutely proves that it was done shadily.
On March 30, I got to see the video of them rushing my cell. Looks bad for them, especially since the Rules Violation Report the guards filed does not match the video evidence. Five guards were on me, and you can’t see but parts of my body, but you can plainly see Correctional Officer Read striking me over and over with that metal baton, raising his hand high in the air and then slamming down. When they pull me from the cell, you can see the blood from my forehead dripping on the floor. I will be able to get a copy once I file in court.
These are people so caught up in their make believe reality they’re like drunks who think they’re walking a straight line. And who the hell are the real criminals falsifying documents, falsifying confidential information on a regular basis? What’s so horrible is that they have been locking us up for decades – 23 ½ hours a day with nothing. And now it’s finally proven to be done on a fake ass foundation of lies. They put people in prison for such crimes, so shouldn’t they be held accountable?
This whole thing came out of nowhere. ISU from the Bay couldn’t wait any longer, and made their desperate move to make me pay for the hunger strikes. They fabricated that kite and put me in Ad-Seg on Jan. 13 as a desperate move to hold onto their crumbling world. Prior to this, the past four years I have been in no trouble beyond cell phone charges.
With those phones – which I was forthcoming about to the guards – the few of us here that came from Pelican Bay Secure Housing Units, Black, Mexican and a few more Whites besides me have collaborated to create a documentary on how we came together racially in our struggle to get out of the SHU. And our blueprint for a free society is to do the same, as prison is a microcosm of the world. What’s happening to us in here is happening to them out there, on a bigger scale. We will be releasing the blueprint before summer.
Prior to the hunger strikes in Pelican Bay in 2011, the Blacks did a hunger strike. It didn’t work. The Whites did one, and it didn’t work. But when we all came together, all the races, by the power of that unity, we were able to change laws. The people on the street can do the same out there.
Since arriving here with other races that came out of the SHU, there has been a significant drop in violence at New Folsom, zero racial violence and zero guard assaults in GP in the past four years. Many times, IGI has sent Sensitive Needs Yards (SNY) informants to instigate problems between us. But they have been unsuccessful because of the understanding we learned through communication with each other when issues arise. We work them out without turning immediately to violence like we did in the past.
We had the first interracial baseball game a couple years back. All the guards thought something was going to happen, but the day went smoothly and everyone had a good time. Now we go to canteen together, program together – many of the barriers have been torn down.
Until they set me up with bogus charges this past January, I was teaching the impact classes, which brought many of us closer, talking about things we never thought we would repeat to another person. Many of our stories are the same; different skin color is all.
The prison system has set up the racial divide amongst us for decades in order to have us killing each other for their profit, scamming the taxpayers out of money. This is why they force inmates to gladiator fight. Think about it: We actually have to fight and outsmart the CDC in order to have racial peace and less violence. This is the same thing those that govern the free people out there have been doing for decades.
We have been played, all of us, from the prison to the streets. Our power is in coming together. We can take back what belongs to us, our sovereignty, and the treasures that belong to everyone. They got people out there working two or three jobs to stay above water, keeping them too exhausted to fight the world that is being forced upon them. This is not the life we were born to live.
These are people so caught up in their make believe reality they’re like drunks who think they’re walking a straight line. What’s so horrible is that they have been locking us up for decades – 23 ½ hours a day with nothing. And now it’s finally proven to be done on a fake ass foundation of lies.
If we unlock the divide that has been imposed upon all of us, people out there together can change the laws, like we did, but first they have to come together and stop fighting. We got to stop taking a back seat to our own lives.
I have already begun asking around here anyone with personal stories on ISU corruption to write it down and give to me. Firstly, we elect someone in every prison to collect stories until we get organized, until they release me from Ad-Seg to GP.
Secondly, start a petition in every prison, with your name and CDC number, asking for the federal government to investigate ISU, IGI, California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA) for the forced gladiator fights, racial conflict set up by informants, and forcing SNY on our yards to create problems – all illegal practices for profit.
Later on, through this, we can build a safe platform for the guards who are forced to carry out orders on gladiator fights or lose their jobs. Let’s help them come out and debrief on the CCPOA.
If we all come together as one unit, like we did up in the Bay, we can change all this. We are supposed to be doing time – not being tortured or used as chess pieces against each other for the CDCs games and profits. Let’s take a stand and let’s get organized.
In conclusion: I won’t take any settlement out of court to keep my assault and kidnapping quiet. I am taking this to trial – not for personal gain, but to take a stand and have laws changed to stop this from happening to anyone else. I will have 100 inmates of all races testify to the positive influence I’ve had in bringing everyone together.
I’m grateful to San Francisco Bay View for publishing my story. What would we do without journalists like those at the Bay View who make our voices heard?
Send our brother some love and light: Ronnie Dean Yandell, V-27927, CSP-Sac STRH H-195, P.O. Box 290001, Represa CA 95671.