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Benjamin Davis, founder of racist 211 Crew, found dead in prison

The founder of a white supremacist prison gang known as the “211 Crew” died in jail, authorities announced Sunday.

Benjamin Davis’ death is “currently being viewed as a suicide,” said Colorado Department of Corrections spokesman Mark Fairbairn, who declined to detail when or where Davis was found.

The 211 Crew captured national headlines after one of its alleged members, Evan Ebel, assassinated Colorado Department of Corrections director Tom Clements on March 19, 2013.

Ebel, who was disguised as a pizza deliveryman, gunned down Clements in front of his home in Monument, Colo. The parolee was later killed in a gun fight following a police chase in Wise County, Tex.

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A police review of the assassination concluded that Ebel was in contact with multiple members of the 211 Crew before the murder.

“The murder of the Colorado Department of Corrections director was ordered by hierarchy of the 211 prison crew,” a Texas Ranger report of the case concluded.

Davis, 42, established the gang in 1995 in a Colorado prison cell after he was supposedly attacked by a group of black detainees who broke his jaw, according to court records.

“Benjamin’s jaw was so badly broken, he had to hold it up with his hands,” his father, Israel Davis, wrote to a judge in 2007.

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“Two inmates were beating him and attempting to throw him over the railing when another black inmate whom Benjamin had known on the street ran up and saved him,” the senior Davis wrote. “Otherwise, he would have been killed.”

As a result, Davis and several other white prisoners “devised a plan” to protect themselves, according to Israel Davis.

They scrawled “211 Gang” with soap on multiple walls throughout the facility.

“Although there were only four of them, the plan was to make it seem as though there were many, many more,” the elder Davis said.

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His son long struggled with mental illness, the letter seeking leniency said.

In November 1994, Davis, 19 at the time, went on a robbery spree in Denver, shooting a man during one of the raids.

“He was a skinny kid,” his longtime girlfriend, Kathy Walton, later wrote to a judge in 2007 after he was facing a slew of new charges tied to offenses in prison.

A year later he formed the 211 Crew, which refers to the California penal code for robbery, court records show.

Authorities say the gang grew into a violent force behind bars and on the outside, threatening to kill anyone who crossed them.

Members were tied to smuggling in drugs into prison and anyone who strayed from the group’s strict rules was viciously attacked, prosecutors said.

In December 2004, 19 gang associates were hit with new criminal charges ranging from racketeering, assault and drug-dealing.

The racist group had as many as 300 members at the time, according to a detective investigating the organization.

In 2007, Davis was sentenced to an added 108 years in prison on a racketeering conviction.

“The long and short of it, Mr. Davis, is you don’t need to be on the streets in 40 or 50 years,” District Judge William Robbins said at the time, according to the Denver Post, which first reported his death. “Your prison sentence was supposed to rehabilitate the defendant. It apparently failed miserably.”

He was in jail for a 30-year conviction of a robbery and first-degree assault case, records show.

Tags:
obituaries
racial injustice
colorado

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