Pack the Courthouse on Dec. 2nd! Support Keith LaMar!

Keith LaMar (aka Bomani Shakur) was placed on death row after the State framed him for crimes he can prove he did not commit during the 1993 Lucasville Prison Uprising at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. He has been held in solitary confinement for the past 21 years.

Please show up to events, come to the oral argument on December 2nd, read Keith’s book, Condemned, and spread the word. Let’s join Keith LaMar in his fight to stay alive!

Keith’s death sentence is nearing its most critical stage. His final appeal will be heard through oral arguments, scheduled for 2 p.m. on Tuesday, December 2nd at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The address is:

540 Potter Steward U.S. Courthouse
100 East Fifth Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Phone: 513-564-7000

Schedule of Events for Tuesday, December 2nd — Keith LaMar Oral Arguments, Cincinnati, Ohio

12:45 p.m. — Supporters’ Rally before Keith’s Oral Arguments. Let’s come together in Lytle Park, East 4th Street, 2 blocks east of the Potter-Stewart Courthouse in downtown Cincinnati. Wear or carry your shirt if you have one (more will be available for $15).

1:10 — March to the Potter-Steward U.S. Courthouse together. Family and close friends will lead us there (per Keith’s wishes). Address: 100 East Fifth Street in Cincinnati.

1:20 — (T-shirts off/covered/put away). Check in through security and be seated.

2-3 p.m. — Oral Arguments will take place. Be Keith’s ears and eyes and please conduct yourselves peacefully (per Keith’s wishes).

3-3:15 p.m. — Please make your way to a private Vigil for Justice for friends and family at 1st Unitarian Church of Cincinnati. Address: 536 Linton Street (In Avondale off Reading Rd). Free parking and security provided.

3:15 — Fellowship and refreshments in the Fellowship Hall

3:45-5:15 — Vigil for Justice in the Sanctuary

Keith’s is a story about racialized injustice, State corruption, struggle, perseverance and truth. He has laid it all out in Condemned–a soulful, fiery, and captivating book. In it, he traces how the prosecutors fabricated a case against him, dismantles their lies by highlighting their inconsistencies, and proves that his Constitutional rights were violated by their willful withholding of evidence favorable to his defense. Most importantly, Keith compels readers to consider their place within the larger social system, inviting those who would stand on the side of social justice to join him, on his behalf and also for the countless other nameless, faceless people caught up in the struggle for humanity.

A documentary film that focuses on the State’s intentional railroading of Keith LaMar has just been completed (October 2014).

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AP: “3 Ohio Prison Riot Convicts Plan Hunger Strike”

Greg Curry, a prisoner at Ohiop State Penitentiary, doing a life sentence on false and wrongful grounds following the Lucasville prison uprising in 1993, told Ohio Prison Watch in a letter received today that he would be part of this hunger strike too:  

This comes from ABC / AP:

By Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press, COLUMBUS, Ohio April 10, 2013

Three of five Ohio inmates sentenced to death for a historic prison riot plan a hunger strike starting on the uprising’s 20th anniversary Thursday to protest the state’s refusal to allow them sit-down media interviews on their cases.

The state has had two decades to tell its side of the story and the inmates known as the Lucasville Five should have their chance, Siddique Abdullah Hasan said in an exclusive telephone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday.

“We have been suffering very torturous conditions for two decades,” said Hasan, formerly Carlos Sanders. “We have never been given the opportunity completely to speak about our cases, to speak to the media — because the media has an enormous amount of power. They can get our message out to the court of public opinion.”

Twelve staff members were taken hostage on April 11, 1993, Easter Sunday, when inmates overtook the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville. Hasan was convicted for helping plan the murder of Corrections Officer Robert Vallandingham, among 10 who died during the 11-day uprising, the longest deadly prison riot in U.S. history. Hasan denies he was involved in planning or carrying out the killing.

Hasan, Keith LaMar and Jason Robb, all sentenced to death after the uprising, will take their last meals Wednesday evening ahead of their protest at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Hasan said. Also participating will be Gregory Curry, a participant in the rebellion sentenced to life in prison.

James Were, another of the Lucasville Five, is diabetic and will not take part. The fifth man sentenced to death after the riot, George Skatzes, is at a different prison in Chillicothe.

Solidarity Rally and March: Protest Ohio’s Prison Industrial Complex – April 7th in Columbus, Ohio

Saturday, April 7th – 1pm – 3pm
Gather at Broad & High (Statehouse sidewalk)

Several organizations and activist groups are uniting for a rally and march to call for an end to the injustices in Ohio’s prison industrial complex. Bob Fitrakis, journalist, author, and professor of political science at Columbus State Community College will speak at the rally.

The rally will be followed by a march west on Broad Street to the Ohio Dept of Rehabilitation and Correction at 770 West Broad Street. We are demanding:

           – End the death penalty
           – Release the framed Lucasville Five
           – Parole for old law prisoners – presumption for parole when eligible
           – Right to a life for released prisoners – remove the barriers to employment and housing

Death Penalty. Execution is a cruel and brutal practice. Further, the arbitrariness in the application of the death penalty violates the principles of fundamental justice. Execution – whether done by a mob or a government – is murder.

Lucasville Five. Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Namir Abdul Mateen, Jason Robb, George Skatzes, Bomani Shakur, all on death row. Within a few hours after the uprising at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility began,
these five men took leadership, seeking to minimize violence. They did save the lives of several men, prisoner and guard alike. But the State of Ohio deliberately framed these five innocent men for murder, on the basis of testimony by prisoners who, in exchange for their testimony, received benefits such as early parole. (See “Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising” by Staughton Lynd at http://www.temple.edu/tempress/titles/1772_reg.html.)

Old Law Prisoners. Old law prisoners are those sentenced before 1996 when Ohio passed a truth-in-sentencing law. There are 3,200 of these old-law prisoners who are eligible for parole. All have been
incarcerated for at least 16 years and some for many more – even decades. At the time these prisoners were sentenced, the judges’ expectation and the Parole Board practice was to grant parole upon eligibility or two or three years later, but over time the Parole Board changed its practice, becoming progressively harsher, and now repeatedly denies parole. Sixteen years is too long – it is time to release these men. (See “Truth in Sentencing: 3200 prisoners stuck in Ohio Prisons”  at http://www.freepress.org/departments/display/18/2012/4537.)

Right to Rebuild a Life Upon Release. It is close to impossible in the year 2012 for a released Ohio prisoner to rebuild a life – because of the multiple barriers to employment and housing. Ohio now has over 800 laws that restrict former prisoners’ access to employment, housing, and education – civil collateral consequences of imprisonment – huge barriers to return to society. With no money, no job, no place to
live, a return to crime becomes more likely. The greatest cost is destruction of lives, but in addition increased recidivism has large financial cost for the State of Ohio.
———————————————————-
Sponsor: Central Ohio Prisoner Advocates:
centralohio.prisoneradvocates@gmail.com
http://centralohioprisoneradvocates.wordpress.com/

Jason Robb allowed to question prosecutors on possible location of case files that defendents have never seen

Ohio prison riot killer can quiz prosecutors
Published 11:35 a.m., Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Houston Chronicle

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A federal judge is allowing an Ohio inmate sentenced to die for killings during the 1993 Lucasville prison riots to question prosecutors about the possible location of case files.

Jason Robb received the death penalty for killing a guard and a fellow prisoner during the riots that also killed eight other inmates.

U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley ruled Monday that the 44-year-old Robb can ask two prosecutors from the case about any files they maintained, if they still exist and if so where they are.

The state had argued there was no reason for the questioning because Robb and his attorneys had received all documents related to his case.

Marbley ruled that Robb’s request was specific and limited enough to be reasonable.

A word of thanks and a plan of action for the Lucasville Five

Dear supporter, or potential supporter, of the five men sentenced to death for their leadership roles in the Easter uprising of prisoners at Lucasville in 1993:
       First of all, thanks. When we visited the men on hunger strike at the Ohio supermaximum security prison in January, each brought to the visit a stack of letters from supporters all over the world. They are emphatic that it was this outpouring of support that caused Ohio authorities to take major steps toward equalizing conditions of confinement for all death-sentenced men at the Ohio State Penitentiary.
       Now we move on, redirecting energy to the underlying threat of execution. Each of these prisoners – Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Jason Robb, Bomani Shakur (also known as Keith LaMar), George Skatzes, and Namir Abdul Mateen (also known as James Were) – is in the early stages of appeal in federal courts. They can expect to live several years before they are killed.  We must help them use that time.
       Ohio was the only state with more executions in 2010 that in 2009. Second only to Texas, Ohio was the state with the greatest number of executions in 2010. Ohio has already scheduled nine executions in 2011, one a month from February through October.
       However, since the successful end to the January hunger strike, there has been another spectacular happening in Ohio. The most senior justice of the Ohio Supreme Court who helped to draft the state’s capital punishment law (Paul Pfeifer), a recent director of the state prison system who witnessed 33 Ohio executions (Terry Collins), and ten Catholic bishops including the bishops in Cincinnati (location of the Lucasville Special Prosecutor and site of major Lucasville trials) and Youngstown (where four of the five leaders of the 1993 rebellion are housed) have all come out against the death penalty. Here are some of the things they say.
      Justice Pfeifer: “[O]ver the years, the death penalty has come to be applied more pervasively than we ever intended. We also wanted a review process implemented in which the Ohio Supreme Court, in addition to considering death penalty appeals, would monitor death sentences across the state to verify that they were being evenly and fairly applied. Simply put, that hasn’t happened.”
       Former Director Collins: “I personally observed the execution of 33 men from 2001 to 2010. All 33 times, in the back of my mind I questioned: Had all the reviews and appeals got this case right?…I wondered that because I had previously walked people out of prison who were found not guilty after years of incarceration. What if we got it wrong for those we executed?…[W]e continue to be one of the few industrialized nations to carry out the death penalty when we know mistakes happen.”
       Catholic Bishops: “The Catholic Bishops of Ohio agree with recent comments made by both Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer and former Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Director Terry Collins that Ohio’s elected legislative leaders ought to debate and ultimately abolish the death penalty.”
       Here are three facts with which the Lucasville prosecutors would agree.
       1.  There was no DNA evidence, there was no physical evidence that permitted the state to connect a particular prisoner with any of the ten murders.
       2.  Therefore, the prosecutors relied on the testimony of prisoners many of whom received benefits (no indictment, reduced charges, concurrent sentences, early parole) in return for their cooperation with the prosecution.
       3.  The five men sentenced to death were convicted primarily on the basis of their leadership roles.  The state still does not know for sure who actually strangled hostage officer Robert Vallandingham.
 
         If you would find it helpful to know more about the factual details, a new edition (with Foreword by Mumia Abu Jamal) of Lucasville by Staughton Lynd can be ordered from PM Press, www.pmpress.org
What can we do?
We have been advised that the most effective form of communication is individual letters.  Here are the names and addresses of key persons to whom you can write about the following issues:
·         Because there is grave doubt about the evidence used to convict prisoners involved in the Lucasville rebellion, an amnesty should be declared as in New York after the uprising at Attica;
·         In light of increasing doubts about whether the death penalty can ever be fairly implemented, it is time to end capital punishment in Ohio.
Please write to:
Gary Mohr, Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Gary.Mohr@odrc.state.oh.us.

State Representative Ted Celeste, who according to the Associated Press hopes to introduce “legislation aimed at abolishing the death penalty in Ohio,” district24@ohr.state.oh.us.

Finally, so that we can stay in touch with your efforts on behalf of the five men and all others on Ohio’s Death Row, please forward copies of your e-mails to lucasvillefive@gmail.com.      

Yours in hope,

Jackie Bowers                       Dwight LaMar                        Staughton Lynd
sister of George Skatzes        uncle of Bomani Shakur         author, Lucasville

Denis O’Hearn
author,  Bobby Sands, the Irish Hunger Striker who Ignited a Generation