SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) - A "riot" involving white and Latino inmates triggered a partial "lock-down" at a San Franciso-area prison housing prisoners awaiting execution, officials said.
Approximately 900 prisoners at San Quentin Prison remained confined to their dormitories as a result of a brawl a day earlier involving approximately 80 inmates, Todd Slosek of the California Department of Corrections told AFP.
None of the more than 500 inmates awaiting execution in a more restrictive section of San Quentin known as Death Row were involved in the riot or effected by the lock-down, Slosek said.
"It was a serious incident, but not something we haven't dealt with before," Slosek said. "It appears to be racially motivated, and we are trying to find out who were the shot-callers."
Animosity between prison gangs divided by race is common in prisons throughout this western state, according to Slosek.
The battle on Monday was the most severe of a series of clashes in recent weeks between the factions, said Slosek, who noted guards had yet to figure out what turned the routine rivalry violent.
Weapons used included crude slashing tools often referred to behind bars as "shanks," as well as a sock filled with bars of soap and wielded like a mace, according to guards.
More than 40 inmates were reported injured. Three of those injured were treated at an outside hospital then returned to prison, according to officials.
Guards using pepper spray quelled the riot within 20 minutes, Slosek said.
"These are not killers per se," Slosek said, noting the inmates were classified "Level-Two" and housed dormitory-style. "They complied with orders."
The total number of inmates housed at San Quentin is 5,500, according to Slosek.