A dispute over a grilled cheese sandwich reportedly prompted a bloody brawl at the Rikers Island prison in New York City.
Some might called it a huge “meltdown.”
The riot that involved about 50 or perhaps more inmates went on for about an hour, and the undermanned corrections officers couldn’t do much about it other than watch behind the glass.The prisoners thew chairs and used mop sticks as weapons against each other. See surveillance video embedded above.
The incident occurred on August 5, but the video emerged today.
The New York Daily News reports that “The violent melee was triggered over a grilled cheese sandwich, a jail insider said. Members of the Trinitarians, a Dominican gang, were upset their rival Crips were not letting them use a hot plate to cook the snack.”
Corrections Officers Union President Norman Seabrook claimed that there aren’t enough guards on duty at the Rikers Island jail. “They’re tossing chairs at each other, they have brooms, they have all kinds of weapons, and we’re outnumbered,” he told ABC News. Officers didn’t step in “Because we don’t have the staff to break it up. The officers certainly can’t go in there with just 3 officers against 60 inmates. The only thing they could possibly do at this point is watch is this point.”
The Emergency Services Unit, the SWAT-like team who are trained to handle prison riots, was reportedly not called in promptly for an undetermined reason.
The Village Voice reports that “One inmate… had a broken broom handle jammed into his eye socket, and two other inmates were slashed in the incident, which took place in the George R. Vierno Center on Monday, August 5, at about 9:20 p.m…. A fourth inmate was punctured with a shank, possibly a repurposed kitchen knife.”
A prison spokesman said that “All of the participating inmates were identified and disciplined. Several inmates and no staff were injured. The reason for the incident remains under investigation.” It’s unclear if any corrections officer faced disciplinary action for not trying to stop the brawl, however.
[Photo courtesy of DonES via Wikimedia Commons|cropped and resized| public domain]