by Jeff Walker
Greetings to all my fellow comrades and others.
First and foremost, allow me a minute to thank Mr. and Mrs. Ratcliff for printing this article. The Bay View National Black Newspaper has provided an informative platform for Africans and others to share their stories across states and to create a unified front in combating the many unjustifiable shooting deaths and murders of innocent Africans at the hands of corrupt pigs and racist administrations who refuse to bring charges and prosecute them.
This article also addresses a corrupt judicial system where many political prisoners and Black Panther Party members and others deemed a threat are held in solitary confinement – all criminal writ of habeas corpus denied, all appeals denied, even where new evidence is found.
For example, in the case of Brother Mumia Abu-Jamal, who continues to fight to this day, fighting for himself, Dr. Mutulu Shakur and others who proclaim their innocence. Then, there’s correctional officers’ misconduct, the many assaults on people in the county jails, the litanies of unjustifiable charges and, last but not least, corrupt prison guards setting up and betting on gladiator fights between rivals.
The guards will shoot and kill one of the coerced fighters, calling it a good shot – such evils were made known in the 1990s when articles first surfaced. The prison guards under fire in the Corcoran SHU (Security Housing Unit) inspired me to write this article.
George Jackson’s stories are legendary, including the story of his murder at San Quentin. Also legendary are the stories of many Black Panther Party members included in Bay View articles who were shot and murdered on the streets and across the states.
I never would have known about any of this, had I not entered prison grounds and been educated and embraced by some righteous Africans in the system or been introduced to the Bay View, whose stories confirmed that what my comrades shared with me was true. I have never been so proud to be an African with Latin blood as I am today.
This is my story
My name is Jeff “Ace” Walker, aka “Karate Joe” in prison. This name was given to me when I would train Africans from various groups. My Northern brothers and I would mix up the arts and boxing in our machine and work out with burpies, hitting and kicking the heavy bag on the yard.
My friends know me from a variety of areas in business, entertainment, as a Soul Train dancer from ‘88 to ‘91 and as a martial artist prior to my conviction in 1991, when I was given an eight-year sentence with half-time.
I knew I was innocent. All I could think about was how I was going to clear my name and get back to doing what I did best: spreading love with a floral service that catered to night clubs and concerts with real and neon roses, and to make people happy by emceeing, dancing and entertaining. But now the system was denying me all of this.
I also had a wife and two children – a girl and a boy – to get home to. My wife and children needed me.
For the first time in my life, I started realizing that everything my homies and big bro T.L. (Tim Walker) were talking about – the corruption of the judicial system, the assaults in the county jail by correctional officers and the police planting evidence – was true. They also mentioned certain public defenders acting in concert with the district attorney to get someone convicted or talked into agreeing to a plea bargain.
Hell, back then in the ‘80s I didn’t want to hear it. “You had to have done something or they wouldn’t have been messing with you,” I thought. Am I the only one who’s ever said this about our people or Brown brothers? Hell, I was naive, brainwashed and possibly white-oriented because I owned two businesses, Ace Productions Entertainment and Ace’s Roses.
I would never have thought this would happen to me. Suddenly, I was personally experiencing these same incidents I always heard about. I had no idea I would share the same fate that many writers in the Bay View had written of. I had no idea what lay ahead of me in the hands of the “Devil’s Playground” of state penitentiaries and corrupt prison guards.
It was around January 1992. I was headed to the “Big House,” San Quentin State Prison. I was in leg irons, waist chains and hand shackles straight out of a slave movie. I was dumbfounded: “Is this a dream?” This was not the lifestyle I grew up with in San Jose, nor how I lived in my own life. “Is this a dream?” If it was, I never woke up.
This shit is real. An eight-year sentence with half-time is a lifetime sentence to someone who has never been to the Big House. I was headed to unfamiliar territory, scared to death. I don’t care how much martial arts and boxing skills I had when I got to San Quentin, the “Castle on the Hill.” I was like, “Hell no!”
We then went through the get-naked-bend-over-and-cough search, guards barking orders with airs of superiority. They trashed my jewelry and possessions. Oh well! It was now all gone.
After several hours in cages filled to capacity, in processing and getting photos taken, we were finally given jumpsuits, my favorite karate shoes and bedding.
It was raining slightly and cold. I was losing my footing heading up the hill to West Block Reception section. Upon entering the unit, I was placed on Bayside. On my way to the cell, there were five tiers of noise and fishing lines everywhere and prisoners were pulling up magazines and kites. There was trash everywhere like I’ve seen in some homies’ projects. The gunner was walking the tiers, barbed wire fencing all around.
I finally reached my cell – straight up bars and a room not fit for two – and this was now my temporary home until completion of processing. They had to assess what level I would be and what prison I would be sent to to do my time.
My cellie was my age. He’d been in the system already and was shot in the hip at Corcoran’s integrated yard “gladiator fights.” He was out of Richmond. I introduced myself and we kicked it off from the start. He gave me a rundown on the politics and the corruption of the prison guards that intensified after they shot him. I listened intently to every word he spoke.
In the a.m., we hit the chow hall, gunners were up above in there as well as in the unit. The food was good, not bad for prison, and when coming out of the chow hall, I heard someone shout “dead man walking.” San Quentin housed Death Row inmates in East Block. I just couldn’t shake this slave crap: leg irons, waist chains, wrist cuffs and talking to us like we were less than. I hated it all the way back to the unit. We were often stopped in front of the unit in a line. Some prisoners would sneak off to the small yard area.
While waiting to enter the unit, I saw a couple of Northerners I knew from the streets. They asked me what happened and said they’d seen me on Soul Train through the years. I filled them in on what happened and proclaimed my innocence. In a couple of days, they got me a job in laundry pushing carts to various areas of the prison with Officer Zimmerman.
I came across some righteous Africans I knew from the streets. They asked me the same question my Northern homies asked. They also mentioned Soul Train. Some of these cats I had trained in boxing or martial arts. Others catered with my floral company in night clubs or concerts where I had employees selling real or neon-lit roses.
Others saw me at various car shows dancing and emceeing, hyping up the crowd before music groups would play or before a contest. Go to YouTube, look up 1998 San Jose Fairgrounds Bikini Girl Contest with Mellowman Ace. I’m the other Ace with the black hat and black open shirt emceeing.
No matter, at yard time, I see these Africans and Northerners with a cold workout program of burpies and other exercises. At different yard times, I’d work out with one or the other. I learned the programs, perfecting them by adding martial arts katas and boxing skills.
First encounter with a corrupt correctional officer and sheriff
In 1992, I was transferred to Solano’s Level III Yard A, I believe. I was housed in Unit 4. I saw many I knew from the streets, Africans from different groups and Northern brothers. Both groups introduced me to others.
Luckily, my big bro T.L. was well loved and respected by my African brothers who he had helped with criminal and civil action lawsuits, which opened the door for their acceptance of me. Not long after training sessions we’d begin weights, punching and kicking the heavy bag and hitting the track in small groups.
After an altercation with another prisoner, I was taken to “the hole,” Ad-Seg, where I met many righteous Africans out of the town city, Oakland. I was introduced to their leader – no names, those who know. He was known to have hands – great boxing skills. Since I trained, we instantly kicked it off. This cat was down to earth and humble. Finally we got out of the hole and hit Yard B mainline, I believe upper numbers. I met more homies on this yard and again started a training program. I had love on both the Black and Brown side.
Toward the end of 1993, I was taken to a child custody hearing in Solano Court and held in the county jail. A tough guy officer picked a fight with me then attacked me with other staff watching. Then when he lost, he charged me with a case, assault on a peace officer with a weapon. I beat the case in the preliminary hearing after officers’ reports were inconsistent. No other officer had seen me use a weapon. Charges were dismissed with the agreement that I wouldn’t sue. I agreed and I was taken back to Solano.
Incident with a prison guard
Upon my return from court, I was moved to Unit 12. One day, a guard who didn’t like me deliberately bumped into me and we had words. He then wrote a Rule Violation Report, citing “assault on staff.” A district attorney rejected it, and the rule violation was dismissed.
Centinela state prison
After the incident with the prison guard, I was put up for transfer to Centinela State Prison, Level IV.
Upon my arrival, it was a new prison out in the desert in the middle of nowhere near the Mexican border. It stayed 110 degrees or more in the summertime daily, and this was summertime. There was no grass, only dirt on the yard. We had our workout on the machines in the dirt, then hit the track in small groups of four or so.
Another incident with prison guard
There were only a handful of Northerners, but I spoke with some Africans to assure that if needed, they would get assistance. I owed it to them, the same people who had my back on the streets.
Not long after my arrival, I got close to a female guard. She was feeling me – only, her partner got mad and falsified a Threatening Staff Rule Violation to get rid of me. They not only give me a SHU Security Housing Unit Disciplinary Act, they transferred me.
Sgt. Thomas said, “I have somebody I want you to take out.”
I was sent to Ad-Seg. Riots began between several rival groups for control of the yard or for various reasons. Therefore, Ad-Seg was bringing many to the hole, and Calipatria State Prison was also sending prisoners from the riots over there.
The gladiator fights – Gladiator fight one
It was Aug. 11, 1994. Ad-Seg lock up Sgt. Thomas was making his rounds upstairs when he suddenly stopped at my neighbors’ door. They were Southerners. Apparently, they had beef with each other, as harsh words were exchanged. Sgt. Thomas then came to my cellie Davis and myself at our cell door, asking if I really knew “that shit” – meaning, martial arts.
My skill is noted in my C-File, and guards on the yard at this prison had seen me training Africans and Brown brothers, and because it was mixed in with our machine exercising, they couldn’t stop us from training. So when the Sgt. Thomas asked, I said, “Why?” He replied, “I have somebody I want you to take out.”
I didn’t want no part in being his pawn, so I declined. He then threatened my cellie and me, saying that if we refused to go to the yard for the fight, there wouldn’t be any prison we could go to since he would make it known that we refused to ride with our African brothers in war against the Southerners.
Yes, this is true: I couldn’t refuse if I wanted to. The sergeant stated, “I got money on you.” He wanted me to take out Montez, aka Payaso, from Norwalk. My cellie was to fight Michael Saenz, aka Beaver the Bone Crusher, out of Bakersfield.
On Aug. 12, 1994, early in the morning, true to Sgt. Thomas word, staff were gathering around after breakfast by the yard door, placing bets.
First out to the yard were Payaso and Beaver, both built like Bolo in Bruce Lee’s movie “Enter the Dragon.” They were in handcuffs, then once on the yard both were unhandcuffed. Then came my cellie Davis, who I had told to stay in the cell – I would fight them both. He was only 20 years old. But he said “No, OG, I’m going with you.” A solid youngster.
We made it out to the yard cage and were unhandcuffed. Payaso and Beaver came off the back cage where they were waiting for us – only, they crisscrossed. Payaso went toward my cellie, and Beaver, “The Enforcer,” came my way. The fight began. When me and Beaver were fighting, I stepped back and saw my cellie go down. Beaver and I separated. Payaso started yelling “We won, we won!” I yelled “No, let me fight them both alone!”
Sgt. Thomas was angry as I headed toward Beaver. Sgt. Thomas yelled for Officer Trout, the gunman, to “shoot that S.O.B.,” and Officer Trout shot Beaver. Beaver immediately dropped to the ground lying in a puddle of blood. Payaso took his boxers off in an attempt to stop the bleeding. But too late.
Now comes the cover up
All three of us were rushed off the yard. Sgt. Thomas threatened me and my cellie not to tell what really happened or we wouldn’t make it out of prison alive.
In 2015, I wrote Internal Affairs about the incident, the murder I witnessed. The investigators came to R.J. Donovan State Prison to interview me where I was housed in Ad-Seg. After I gave them all the information, recorded on tape, I was told not to tell anyone. Nothing was done ever since I made my statement, nor has anyone contacted me about what was found.
Second shooting death
Not long after the first shooting death, “Monster Tree,” or “Tree Top,” was taken out to the same cage and set up against five Southerners. Littleman from Hawaii Gardens was shot and killed, and two others wounded.
I found a fishhook in my food. I would have died had I swallowed it.
Emergency transfer considerations were soon done Oct. 5, 1994. Ten of us in Ad-Seg were deemed troublemakers and transferred. Five inmates were transferred to Pelican Bay State Prison and the other five, including Tank McGruder, myself and three Southerners, were sent to Corcoran SHU. There were prison guards waiting for us with riot gear on. We were snatched off the bus one by one and assaulted. Tank and myself were sent to 4A-4L, the same building where Officer Bethea shot Preston Tate, an African brother, in the head, killing him in a gladiator fight.
The guards tampered with our food. It’s a known fact that before you eat the food you’re served, you need to search it. I’m glad I did, because in the spaghetti we were served one day, I found a fishhook in my food. I would have died had I swallowed it. Guards would also open doors to let enemies in to attack you. And there was no sleeping during the day.
In January 1995, I was transferred to the 4B-4R Indeterminate SHU section for gang members and affiliates. I was never a documented gang member because of my ties with both Africans and Northerners. Finally, I was let out and ready to transfer. That’s when the 4B Bus Crew East Coast Crips were assaulted on the 4B Yard, forced against their will to cut their hair, and other injustices. This resulted in attorneys picking up lawsuits for the inmates.
I was later transferred to New Folsom State Prison, C-Yard. All 602 Appeals were granted on my SHU disciplinaries, and new hearings were ordered. I was temporarily sent back for the hearings. When I arrived, staff came to see me and informed me as a formality that I was going to be found “not guilty,” and all of my Work Time and Good Time Credits would be restored.
I was also informed I would be immediately sent back to New Folsom State Prison, never to be returned. I went. Staff needed 10 days to process my paperwork for release, and I was set free in 1996. I discharged after a couple of violations with no crimes in 2000.
This story is not written in order to glamorize, nor are the content or characters to be misunderstood. My story is written because of my deep love and concern for those who are still caught up in the system and going through what many comrades have gone through – many whose names are printed in the articles of the Bay View.
I pray that they take this story to heart, and refuse to be a pawn for these corrupt prison guards who only sit back and watch, setting up situations that result in us killing each other.
‘All power to the people’
Now, the yards are again being integrated with SNY (Sensitive Needs Yard) prisoners who either dropped out of a prison gang and debriefed or for other reasons have been placed back on the mainline. What were prisons to do, when many have dropped out of one gang to join another in the SNY? The consequences of their past actions are resulting in violence.
I myself am no longer in prison, and could easily just walk away – leaving prisoners to do what they do. Only, I hate to see the smiles on the administrators’ faces while they sit back and watch prisoners kill or hurt each other. I knew men who were righteous soldiers and leaders who decided to step down from the gangs they represented, and I know many who are still solid as a rock to where not even the Indeterminate SHU term broke them. So of course they’re going to feel in them a blood in, blood out mentality.
How can this problem be resolved? Good question. Do you love and miss your family? Do you miss having a job to support yourself? Do you miss your regular yard program? Many are getting hurt or killed. It’s time to make a decision. In the SHU, the collective members came up with a plan to stop the violence against rivals, eventually winning their case with hunger strikes and other forms of protest to stop holding gang members in indeterminate SHU lock-up.
Read the quote on this last page and think about it real hard: Making a change may be the hardest decision you’ve ever made in your life. I refuse to let the system play me and use my ego trip to make me their pawn.
I sincerely request you learn how to play chess. It is a serious mind game, and if you make the wrong move, it can affect you and your family’s lives forever.
And: Whatever happened to Sgt. Thomas and Officer Trout, who murdered Michael Saenz? Did they get away with murder?
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
I hope you take time after reading this article to re-evaluate your vulnerability to being subjected to the intellectual application of slavery, and note that those ignorant to the rules of this nation are the uneducated and the minority class, for whom adequate education is not affordable.
You see, my brothers and sisters, the plan is to discourage any belief in opportunity, to disrupt the hope of our people and to clandestinely set back our progress as proud people of this nation. I am a Walker – a brilliant mind and proud soul.
I shall one day be a world-renowned man in a quest to wake up the sleeping and to infuriate the tyrants and by all means available devastate the world with my message that the time is at hand. Time is at hand!
My brother Tim Walker wrote this many years ago, only I have no idea where he got it from. No matter, I have always cherished it. For me, not believing this could cost me happiness: “Uhuru! Uhuru!” (“Freedom! Freedom!” in Swahili).
Send our brother some love and light: Jeff Walker, 2138-6, P.O. Box 5003, Coalinga CA 93210, firstname.lastname@example.org.