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).

ACLU Case: We filed this suit because the ODRC is violating the First Amendment rights of the prisoners and of the press

From: Free Greg Curry: This is about the ACLU Media-access case from the ACLU Ohio website:

May 6, 2014
21 years after the Lucasville prison uprising, the media is still waiting for face-to-face interviews with the condemned prisoners.

For more than two decades, Siddique Hasan, Jason Robb, George Skatzes, Keith LaMar and Greg Curry have claimed they are innocent of the crimes attributed to them during the 1993 prison uprising at Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF).

Among other things, these five men accuse the state of coercing false testimony from other SOCF prisoners in order to convict them. They have spent years in solitary confinement, soliciting media attention in an attempt to convince the public—and ultimately the court system—that they do not belong where they are.

In response, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) has completely banned face-to-face media contact with these men, arguing that they are too much of a security risk to be allowed to tell their stories in person.

In late 2013, the ACLU of Ohio filed a lawsuit challenging this ban. The suit was filed on behalf of Hasan, Robb, Skatzes, LaMar and Curry, as well as one teacher and four reporters, including Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges.  

We filed this suit because the ODRC is violating the First Amendment rights of the prisoners and of the press. It’s not hard to see that their actions have very little to do with security and everything to do with silencing an uncomfortable conversation about the Lucasville uprising.

For proof, consider that many other death row inmates in Ohio have been granted face-to-face access to the media. They include spree killer John Fautenberry, neo-Nazi murderer Frank Spisak, and convicted arsonist Kenneth Richey, who has since been released from death row.

In all, Ohio prison officials have approved nearly two dozen media interviews with other death row inmates while denying each and every request for face-to-face interviews with the five Lucasville prisoners. This ban is a special form of extended vengeance, reserved only for them.

These prisoners are complicated characters, and the Lucasville uprising is a complex story.

Hiding these complexities behind a wall of censorship will not make them go away.
The Basics

21 years ago, on Easter Sunday 1993, more than 400 inmates at an overcrowded prison in Lucasville, Ohio staged an 11-day prison uprising. In the ensuing violence, nine inmates and one corrections officer lost their lives.

The Basics – read more here.

(clockwise from top left) Jason Robb, Siddique Hasan, Greg Curry and Keith LaMar are all incarcerated at Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Ohio. Not pictured is George Skatzes, who is incarnated at the Chillicothe Correctional Institution (photo courtesy of Siddique Hasan and Greg Curry).


Artist Laurel Herbold’s imagined rendering of an actual legal meeting between prisoner Jason Robb, former ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman, prisoner Greg Curry, ACLU Volunteer Attorneys Alice and Staughton Lynd, prisoner Siddique Hasan, ACLU of Ohio Managing Attorney Freda Levenson and prisoner Keith LaMar.

Greg Curry on Lucasville Uprising and 20th anniversary hunger strike demanding media access

From: SF Bay View, April 21, 2013

by Annabelle Parker

Greg recently on a visit behind glass

Greg Curry, 48, is a prisoner in the Ohio State Penitentiary, the supermax facility in that state, serving a life sentence following a major disturbance in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF), in Lucasville, Ohio. This disturbance, known as the Lucasville Uprising, started 20 years ago, on April 11, 1993, after the warden, Arthur Tate, had instituted a very strict regime with no allowance for any discussion or negotiation of the rules, nor any respect for those in prison.

One of the important issues for Muslim prisoners was that the mandatory TB tests used alcohol (phenol) under the skin, which they refused. There was no discussion allowed with the warden to use alternative means of testing. This attitude of not listening to the serious concerns of a group of religious prisoners culminated in the uprising. For more information, see http://www.lucasvilleamnesty.org/p/background.html and https://justiceforlucasvilleprisoners.wordpress.com/.

This disturbance, known as the Lucasville Uprising, started 20 years ago, on April 11, 1993, after the warden, Arthur Tate, had instituted a very strict regime with no allowance for any discussion or negotiation of the rules, nor any respect for those in prison.

I’ve been in contact with the people who were convicted after the disturbance ended, and one big reason the story of Lucasville has to be told again and again is that not only did this tragic, desperate uprising lead to 10 deaths, but five men are still on death row and many more have been given lengthy sentences who declare their innocence.

After the uprising, informants were used to testify against other prisoners. In some cases, one prisoner would admit to having committed a murder, yet someone else would be found guilty of the same murder. Attorney and writer Staughton Lynd details this in seven essays he has written over the past year reflecting on the 20th anniversary of the Lucasville Uprising.

Siddique Abdullah Hasan, designated the “ringleader” during his trial following the Lucasville Uprising and condemned to death, wrote: “One of the prosecutors, who is now a state judge, recently stated to a documentary filmmaker, ‘I don’t think that we will ever know who hands-on killed the Corrections Officer Vallandingham.’ This is not what he and other prosecutors told our juries. So yes, we are innocent men who are political prisoners.”

One big reason the story of Lucasville has to be told again and again is that not only did this tragic, desperate uprising lead to 10 deaths, but five men are still on death row and many more have been given lengthy sentences who declare their innocence.

Building a supermax appears to be the one thing politicians and prisoncrats wanted in the 1990s, and the Lucasville Uprising, which they call a riot, was all that was needed to get their way.

These innocent men have been treated more cruelly for the 20 years since the uprising than any other Ohio prisoners, and that injustice must be set right. More public and political outcry is badly needed. A general amnesty for all involved would be a graceful and just, albeit late, remedy for those who were wrongly convicted. Here is the story in short of Greg Curry, one of the prisoners who received a life sentence even though he had nothing to do with the uprising or the murders.

Greg Curry

Annabelle Parker: Greg, on the website Gregcurry.org and in a flyer you and your supporters have published, you wrote: “I was 29 years old. My interest was going home, sports, hustling and exercising, nothing more or less: no gangs, groups or religious affiliation, nothing to prove to my peers. Therefore, I had no serious disciplinary issues. My job was a recreation aide.”

So you were not with the Muslims or affiliated  with a prison gang?

Greg Curry: No, I was not part of any prison group or religion pre 1993. Most of the guys charged I had not even seen before.

A.P.: Greg, why did the prosecution or those investigating the riot turn to you? Do you have any clue? Did anyone mention your name?

G.C.: Most people knew me and Keith LaMar [now known as Bomani Shakur] was close friends, brothers even, so the assumption would be natural that we’re together or have each other’s back.

Some guys in LaMar’s block where these murders took place (apparently) blamed him and his friends, all in face mask by the way. So that started a process of founding “LaMar’s friends,” and once I was interviewed by the investigators, I was told “you or LaMar going to death row.”

I told them I didn’t know anything and have no reason to blame LaMar for anything either. Some guys – Lou Jones, Ant Walker, Donald Cassell – had previous problems with LaMar and evidence suggested that they would be charged for murders, so they needed to “perform” to get paroles and no charges on themselves.
Once LaMar’s “friends’” names were discovered, the investigators started giving these to their inmate conspirators (“snitches”) and those inmates repeated the lies. When you put most anyone up against anyone else, most people will save self; lying is only a minor detail.

I was given an opportunity to “save myself,” but I didn’t do anything or know anything worthy of needing saving from. How ironic that not knowing, not being involved, would put me at greater risk than had I committed a crime.

A.P.: This snitching by other inmates, this was encouraged by the prosecutors? Did the prisoners get anything out of snitching, which I gather means lying in court? Were they themselves involved maybe?

G.C.: Yes, the investigators that were state police and the prosecutors encouraged, created a narrative for the inmate conspirators (“snitches”) that wrapped up all loose ends and allowed different juries in different courts to convict different people for the exact same crime, so that four to five people individually are convicted for each murder.

Those snitches were then given parole or no charges. In Lou Jones’ case, he admitted being on this so-called “death squad,” yet he was not charged with anything and got a parole.

To clarify the commonly used term “snitching,” I prefer the inmate conspirators’ term. Yes, they helped get us divided, which in America is an easy task, and then the heavy burden of being poor, Black, male, convicted felon in a totally opposite rural community on trial makes you truly vulnerable to conviction.
Then, yes, these guys came to court to testify as well. As I said earlier, yes, these guys were the first to be accused, which is why the investigators paid them a visit. Once shown the evidence against them, they were given a “way out.”

I was given an opportunity to “save myself,” but I didn’t do anything or know anything worthy of needing saving from. How ironic that not knowing, not being involved, would put me at greater risk than had I committed a crime.


A.P.: You say on the website that deals are part of the law in Ohio but that the jurors have to know about the deals. In your case, the jurors clearly did not know, but the prosecution and the lying inmates did know about the fabrication of the case against you. In other words, they knew about a deal, but it was not disclosed in court? And the judge? Did he or she know?
What about Beckett v Haviland US App 6th cir?

G.C.: I believe the judge at trial, Stapleton, a retired judge, was in the blend to the deal between the prosecution and inmates. However, he became (at least) an unwilling accomplice when he stated, “By law if there were deals, they would have to be disclosed,” in response to my jurors’ inquiry, so that convinced my jury it was no deals when in fact it was, and the inmates and prosecutors covered it up. While my defense was based on my innocence and these inmates’ deals.

Beckett v. Haviland is just the latest in a long list of case law that clearly states this practice to be so out of bounds that the only remedy, and I quote: “The only remedy is a new trial.” (See http://gregcurry.weebly.com/gregs-case.html with attached document, Beckett v. Haviland).

Thus far the judicial system has hid behind “procedural” walls to deny me a court hearing. The courts claim it’s too late to seek justice! Can you believe that crap from a world leader in telling other countries what justice is?!

“The only remedy is a new trial.”

A.P.: What were you charged with and did you know those testifying against you? What happened to them?

G.C.: I was indicted for two aggravated murders, found guilty of one and guilty on the other of attempted aggravated murder. All those who testified against me received deals ranging from paroles to lower security to choice cellmates.

A.P.: Greg, it is 20 years now since that ordeal. What is the situation now of your case, and how can we support you?

G.C.: The courts are merely a reflection of a society that “don’t wanna know,” so until people become aware and demand mainstream media look into it and the media asks questions of lawyers and pastors and civil rights leaders, then it will be 20 years more.

Our fight at present is to make people aware, skeptic or not. Just look into it. Our supporters hold rallies and events that cost money so even if you can’t physically come out, help with money. Donations help. Email blast the websites. Get to know us. Just don’t ignore this anymore. It’s been 20 years.

A.P.: Is there anything else you need us to know right now?

G.C.: As of April 11, 2013, many of us are on a hunger strike to demand access to media to tell our stories. So pray for us. But prayer without deeds can’t please our God.

Freedom first,
Greg

Annabelle Parker, who lives in the Netherlands and dedicates her life to supporting prisoners in their struggles for freedom and justice, can be reached at freegregcurry@yahoo.com.

Send our brother some love and light: Greg Curry, 213-159, OSP, 878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road, Youngstown, OH 44505. His website, created and maintained by his supporters, is Gregcurry.org.

Support the hunger strikers

The situation is urgent. As of April 21, Bomani Shakur (Keith LaMar) had already lost 28 pounds!

To support the hunger strikers, call JoEllen Smith, head of the Office of Communications at the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) central office, and demand that she and ODRC Director Gary Mohr grant media access for on-camera interviews with the Lucasville hunger striking prisoners. Her number is (614) 752-1159.

Tell the operator you do not want to talk to the warden, because you know that Director Mohr and Communications Director Smith are the actual decision-makers. Tell JoEllen Smith that you believe they are denying this access because they do not want the truth to come out about April of 1993.

Sign the online petition at http://www.change.org/petitions/ohio-department-of-rehabilitation-and-corrections-allow-on-camera-interviews-with-lucasville-uprising-prisoners#.

Learn more at http://www.lucasvilleamnesty.org/2013/04/20th-anniversary-hunger-strike-press.html.

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.

Lucasville uprising prisoner dies in ohio

By Sharon Danann
in: Workers World
Published Sep 17, 2011

Abdul-Muhaymin Nuruddin

Abdul-Muhaymin Nuruddin, a prisoner convicted as James Bell, died this past week of an apparent heart attack while in custody. His body has yet to be released so that his funeral can take place, in disregard of Muslim custom of burial within 24 hours.

Nuruddin was a negotiator on behalf of the prisoners during the 1993 rebellion in Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio. He was held in high esteem by his fellow prisoners for his work in SOCF’s law library, where he prepared appeals, writs of habeas corpus and civil law suits.

Nuruddin was convicted of felonious assault following the Lucasville rebellion. The prosecution maintained he was the “right hand man” of Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan, another prisoner negotiator. Hasan received the death penalty for his alleged role in the uprising.

Nuruddin’s longtime pen pal, Karen Thimmes, states: “Before he came back to Ohio [in 2007], Nuruddin was housed in federal institutions, first in the SuperMax in Florence [Colo.], later at a federal medical facility due to his kidney problems. When the Feds suggested to Ohio DRC [Department of Rehabilitation and Correction] that they would do a kidney transplant on Nuruddin if Ohio would foot the bill, Ohio pulled him out of the federal system and brought him back to Ohio, allegedly claiming that lifetime dialysis was cheaper than a transplant.” (prisonersolidarity Yahoo group)

Twice in the past four years, Nuruddin contracted serious MRSA [methicillin-resistant staphyloccus aureus] infections at his dialysis port which he believed were the result of inadequate attention to hygenic procedures, according to Thimmes. She maintains he was also forced to choose between dialysis and Muslim prayers on Fridays. In 2008, the ODRC forcibly cut Nuruddin’s beard in violation of his religious rights.

While at ODRC’s Pickaway Correctional Institution, guards threatened Nuruddin’s life. They also failed to intervene when his neck was cut near his jugular vein by another prisoner. They locked up a prisoner who came to his defense. ODRC refused to take action on the complaints he filed about these and other incidents.

Brother Nuruddin will be remembered for his courageous participation in prisoner advocacy campaigns, including the ongoing struggle to overturn other wrongful convictions of Lucasville-uprising prisoners, five of whom received death sentences. Another of his lasting contributions was an Islamic newsletter called “Pristine Truths,” which he published in the 1990s.

As the deaths and numerous disabling injuries of the then New York Gov. Nelson Rockefeller-led massacre of prisoners in Attica Correctional Facility 40 years ago are memorialized, the lives saved by the prisoners in Lucasville who negotiated a settlement with ODRC should also be honored. Recalling that N.Y. Gov. Hugh Carey ordered all indictments from the Attica rebellion vacated, the struggle will continue until the Lucasville-uprising convictions are reversed and Nuruddin’s former fellow inmates walk free.

Comments in memory of Nuruddin may be sent to lucasvillefreedom@gmail.com.


Articles copyright 1995-2011 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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