A longstanding racial rivalry at a federal prison in Florida turned deadly over the weekend after an inmate was stabbed to death while several others were transported to the hospital.
On Sunday morning, Black and white inmates clashed after a history of tension boiled over at the nation’s largest federal prison complex, United States Penitentiary, Coleman. Though authorities have been tight-lipped about the extent of the confrontation, USA Today reported that Troi Venable, 39, a Black man who was serving a 17-year term at the Florida penitentiary for assault and gun possession by a felon, died after being stabbed with a homemade knife.
According to USA Today, Venable had been implicated in a prior violent assault against a fellow prisoner while housed at the federal prison in Lewisburg, Penn., in 2014. He had been charged with seriously injuring another inmate with an “improvised weapon.” He was transported to the Florida facility in 2017.
The prison has been on lockdown since the melee and prison officials confirmed that they were keeping inmates in their cells and suspending visitation until further notice.
The Atlanta Black Star reported that the local chief of the prison workers union, Joe Rojas blamed the prison warden for the incident in a Facebook post Sunday.
“Roy Carnell Cheathem is responsible,” Rojas said in the post. “We have a Lack of institutional control all due to this Warden.”
In the latest round of funding for the prison, according to the Black Star, Cheathem received a $20,399 bonus, which did not sit well with Rojas.
“How can you justify these bonus payments when we don’t even have enough people to staff the place?” he said. “There is no way to justify this.”
Officials have not revealed how many inmates were treated at the facility for minor injuries, but six inmates, including Venable, were transported to a local hospital after the incident.