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Los Angeles Jailers Work to Stop Racial Disturbances


Los Angeles officials are trying to end racial violence that has plagued the city's jails for nearly a week. Police say the tensions are the result of ethnic feuds between black and Latino gangs outside the prisons.

All seven Los Angeles County jails are in their third day of what is called a "lockdown." Inmates are confined to their dormitories, most black and Hispanic prisoners are being kept apart and no visitors are permitted.

Two fights broke out Thursday between black and Hispanic inmates, and two inmates were hurt Friday in another fight. Wednesday, five racially motivated melees erupted, the largest involving 300 inmates. One man died in a riot February 4. More than 100 inmates have been injured in the disturbances.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca says the problem started on the street. He oversees the jail system, and says the conflict on the inside reflects tensions in minority neighborhoods.

"It is a carry-over, in our opinion, from what is a feud between gangs in the Los Angeles South-Central area," he said. "And that will happen when you bring people to jail who want to continue whatever their war was in the street."

Thursday, a group of 70 clergymen toured one jail, where they urged an end to the fighting.

Los Angeles jail officials say they are reviewing videotapes of the disturbances to identify and isolate the instigators.

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