Manitoba prison trashed in riot

Gangs clash in Manitoba prison riot

Jan 12, 2009
THE CANADIAN PRESS

WINNIPEG – Long-simmering tensions between two criminal gangs were behind a riot at a federal medium-security prison in Manitoba, says the Winnipeg Free Press.

The melee Saturday night seriously injured four inmates and damaged a living unit that houses 100 prisoners at Stony Mountain Institute.

The Free Press reports that inmates – some wearing masks – set fires, stabbed their fellows and threw garbage cans at corrections officers, who battled back with pepper spray and displayed their shotguns.

It took almost six hours to bring the rioting inmates under control.

The Free Press quotes sources as saying the mood at Stony Mountain had been tense since New Year’s Eve when corrections officers seized 36 prison-made knives. The penitentiary was locked down for two days at that time.

The sources say the main prison rivalry is between the Manitoba Warriors and the Native Syndicate.

On Saturday, a penitentiary intelligence officer received word something was planned for the prison’s recreational hall, so extra officers were sent in as a precaution, a prison source told the Free Press.

But the planned confrontation was only partly averted. One group of inmates managed to seize control of a kiosk that regulates access to all the cells on one of the living units. That led to a battle with corrections officers who attempted to regain control of the situation.

“Staff had to withdraw. The unit was overrun by inmates,” the source said. “Staff had to use a huge amount of pepper spray. There were fires going and some of the inmates had their faces covered (with balaclavas). They were throwing garbage cans.”

Prison officials have declined to discuss many details of what happened.

But Stony Mountain spokesman Guy Langlois did say Sunday that after gaining control of the living unit, the inmates barricaded themselves inside and blocked off the main entry as well as the emergency exit.

The institution then called in its emergency response team, a unit specially trained to control riots and other disturbances, he said.

The prison, about 25 kilometres north of Winnipeg, is expected to remain in lockdown for at least a few days.

No staff members were hurt. Langlois said the prisoners in hospital appeared to have been stabbed or beaten.

“They’re trying to call this an incident, but it’s a riot,” a penitentiary source said. “The place is trashed.”

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