Hugo Pinell, infamous ‘San Quentin Six’ member, killed in prison riot

Hugo Pinell, infamous for his role in the 1970s “San Quentin Six” prison break attempt, was killed Wednesday during a riot at a maximum-security prison outside Folsom, state corrections officials said.

Pinell was among more than half a dozen people injured when an estimated 70 inmates began to fight in a prison yard shortly before 1 p.m., according to agency spokeswoman Terry Thornton. Corrections officers responded with pepper spray and warning shots from rifles, a written report from the agency stated.

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After the riot, five inmates were taken to area hospitals with stab wounds and others were being treated at the prison.

Pinell, 71, had been in state prison since 1965 on a life-with-parole sentence for a rape in San Francisco County. He was given another life sentence for killing a prison officer in 1971.


He was part of an Aug. 21, 1971, attempted breakout from San Quentin State Prison, in which six people were killed: three officers and three inmates, including George Jackson, founder of the Black Guerilla Family.

The prison gang has played a controversial role as a radical faction for civil rights. Activists in prison to this day continue to mark what they call a “prison rebellion” as Black August, often with fasting.

Pinell received a third life sentence for attacking two officers, slitting their throats, in that escape attempt, and had spent the majority of his time since then in solitary confinement and had participated in a 2013 statewide hunger strike protesting those conditions. Thornton said he was transferred from the isolation unit at Pelican Bay State Prison to California State Prison-Sacramento, where the riot took place, in January 2014.

CSP-Sacramento is located adjacent to the historic Folsom State Prison and is built to house inmates in high security, including solitary confinement. It houses about 2,300 prisoners.


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