Oak Glen Music Program honors Lt. Bo Taylor

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Members of the Oak Glen Music Program perform their original work “Spotlight” in honor of Lt. Derrick “Bo” Taylor and other shooting victims. For photos, see the the bottom of this story.

By Krissi Khokhobashvili, CDCR PIO II
Office of Public and Employee Communications

When Conservation Camp inmates and staff are dispatched to wildland fires, they work alongside crews and report to CDCR and CAL FIRE staff from throughout the state. During active fires they work long hours side by side to quickly and effectively clear brush, building breaks to stop the spread of wildfire. When not on the fire line, they perform conservation work throughout California, and back at camp crew members train together to stay in shape and be ready to respond.

Throughout it all, they rely on one another to stay safe and motivated, and as a result fire camps are generally close-knit, with bonds forming not only in the close quarters of camp, but also throughout the state. When Lt. Derrick “Bo” Taylor was killed in October 2017 while helping save others during the mass shooting in Las Vegas, the shock of his death rippled not only through Ventura Conservation Camp, where Taylor served as camp commander, but through fire camps throughout the state.

At Oak Glen Conservation Camp, incarcerated firefighters found time in their packed schedules to write and rehearse four songs in honor of the Las Vegas victims. In addition to creating the tribute, they also wanted to share it with staff and the Yucaipa community. When they brought the idea to Camp Commander Lt. Keith Guillory, who started the music program for the inmates at Oak Glen several years ago and was Taylor’s colleague and friend, he quickly agreed.

“They were inspired, disturbed and moved by what happened,” Guillory said. “We felt a concert would be a great opportunity to bring awareness, and honor Lt. Taylor.”

Even though nobody would fault these hardworking firefighters for taking a rest after a long day at camp or on the fire line, the members of the Oak Glen Music Program were committed to the event, and to holding it, appropriately, on Memorial Day. That meant coming together after work and on the weekends to write, rehearse and perfect their songs. That teamwork and dedication, Guillory said, is what makes the music program important.

“Music is universal,” he said. “It crosses color lines, and it gives the inmate population the opportunity to learn how to play an instrument, or enhance their craft.”

“The conservation program is rehabilitative also,” he added. “These guys work very hard during fire season fighting wildland fires, and this raises morale.”

Oak Glen staff and the community also came together for the cause. Maintenance workers built a stage for the event, and the Southern Camp Food Service Department prepared food for the day under the supervision of Assistant Correctional Food Manager Jepal Mangum, Lt. Keith Guillory, and Supervising Correctional Cook Felicia Candelaria. Sgt. Christopher Pineiro’s organizational assistance was instrumental during the event.

The songs were debuted during the “Hear Our Voices,” which included performances by the Oak Glen music program, outside band Sovereign Artist and guest DJ Derrick “D Dizzle” Williams from Moment of Stardom Entertainment. During the event, incarcerated artists created beautiful paintings on-site, and displayed their one-of-a-kind woodwork.

Speaking as a united voice for the Oak Glen population, musicians Alejandro Borja, Ryan Stanzione and Derek Wilson shared their thoughts on the event in a joint statement.

“We feel like it was a great opportunity to come together as a multiracial band, and to express our thoughts and feelings on mass shootings, with our tribute song ‘Hear Our Voice’ dedicated to Lt. Derrick ‘Bo’ Taylor. We appreciated the opportunity to share our musical talents, and at the same time rehabilitate ourselves, and set an example to our peers at our camp.”

In an interview with KABC, Borja said the Oak Glen music program is truly rehabilitative in that it brings together people across racial lines to share a universal love of music.

“This music program is outstanding,” he said. “It definitely keeps us out of trouble and helps us spend our time here in a much more positive way.”

Reflecting on the event, Guillory said it was an uplifting way to spend a day at camp, and he was grateful for the turnout and that the crews weren’t called away to a fire, as that would have of course been the priority. Overall, it was a profound way to honor the life of Taylor, the loss of whom will always be felt by CDCR.

“It is very humbling, and gratifying, to be able to bring this idea to fruition,” Guillory said. “He was a great leader, he was a great father, and he died a hero. He died saving lives.”

“It is an honor to honor that man.”

Oak Glen Conservation Camp, located in the San Bernardino Mountains, was established in 1945 as a tent camp. Many different agencies have been associated with Oak Glen, but CAL FIRE has been there since it opened. Today the camp operates as a CDCR Conservation Camp, a partnership of CDCR and CAL FIRE to provide trained inmate crews to assist in fire suppression and other emergencies, and to perform conservation work throughout the state. Learn more at https://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Conservation_Camps/.