JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - “I must live and die by a sword to be an Almighty Vice Lord.”
Those words are from the Vice Lords literature, and when you become a legitimate Vice Lord, you have to learn that document by heart.
The Gangster Disciples literature states that they "would overturn this system without hesitation because they have absolutely nothing to lose... by the ballot or the bullet."
Jimmy Anthony speaks for the Mississippi Association of Gang Investigators, or MAGI.
“Myself and other MAGI members have resources inside the facilities that are gang members that are contacting us and letting us know what’s going on,” he said.
The gang investigators are a group of cops from all over the state that gather and share information in order to draw a bigger picture of gang activity around the state. They said they've actually warned state officials that this day could come in the prisons.
“This is reality. It’s happening today. It’s been building for about three years, and we’ve talked about it, we’ve tried to share it," Anthony said. "This is not kids playing basketball on the street corner. This is a multi-billion dollar narcotics business.”
Informants are telling MAGI investigators that there have been guards who gave keys to inmates which allowed them to get to other inmates they wanted to attack. They said the fight started with the Vice Lords and the Gangster Disciples started to retaliate.
“The people who perpetrated this violence will be charged and brought to justice. Gang violence will not be tolerated in state prisons or on our streets,” tweeted Gov. Phil Bryant on Friday.
And it’s quite possible the violence isn’t over yet, state law enforcement sources said.
Both the Vice Lords and the Gangster Disciples in Mississippi are “plugged” into Chicago, which means that they receive orders from leadership there.
“Any major moves must be approved by Chicago because they have that plug,” said Anthony. “But by having that plug, it also gives them backup.”
According to MDOC, Denoris Howell, the last inmate who died, was not involved in one of the situations that stemmed from the gang wars. Inmates housed in Unit 29 where the riots took place have been moved to another unit so everyone is in a cell now.
Via Twitter today, Governor-elect Tate Reeves called for answers to the gang violence.
“I received a briefing today from MDOC on the prison gang violence. Grateful to those working to restore order and safety. That is the first priority. Then we need answers and justice on the people who perpetrated this violence. Any loss of life is tragic and must be addressed,” he tweeted. “There is much work to be done in our correctional system. Until the transition, we will be working to get more information and offering our assistance to the current leadership.”
The Department of Public Safety issued a statement on Friday as well.
“DPS will continue to work diligently with the Mississippi Department of Corrections and will provide all available resources in order to bring resolution to this current situation," said Commissioner Marshall Fisher. “Commissioner Hall and I are in communication regarding the situation and are closely monitoring gang related issues that could be contributing factors.”
MAGI officials say their goal is simply to stop the killing.
“Mainly we need to pray. We need God on our side. We’ve lost enough life," Anthony said. "We don’t need to lose any more people in our prisons, we don’t need to lose any of our guards, and we don’t need to lose any more of our law enforcement over this.”
The names of those killed in the gang war so far are:
- Terrandance “Kaboom” Dobbins, 36
- Walter Gates, 25
- Gregory Emary, 26
- Unidentified Inmate, age unknown