Ohio: Walk to Stop Executions!

From the website: Walk Against the Death Penalty:

On Sunday October 4, 2015, abolitionists from Ohio and beyond will begin a 7 day 83 mile walk from the Lucasville prison where death row inmates are executed to the Statehouse in Columbus calling for an end to capital punishment as proposed in two bills pending in the House and Senate. 

Those unable to participate in the full walk can join the final two hour leg in Columbus on Saturday, October 10, the World Day Against the Death Penalty, or attend the 12 noon rally at Trinity Episcopal Church, 125 E. Broad St. across from the Capitol.  

Keynote speakers include OJPC director David Singleton and two murder victim family members Sam Reese Sheppard, and OTSE President Melinda Dawson.

Solidarity with prisoners in California from a supermax-prisoner in Ohio

This was sent to us as a call for solidarity and support for the California prisoners who are going on a hunger strike as of July 8th, by Greg Curry in Ohio, who has been held in the supermax since his false indictment and conviction following the Lucasville prison disturbance of 1993. Greg and others have had to resort to hunger strikes many times to fight for basic rights. 

7-1-13 For Distribution:

Why should a prisoner in Ohio or Minnesota, or New Mexico, support California prisoners as they move into a crucial stage of struggle for their just do?

My humble opinion is: how could any prisoner think that these apartheid-style policies being used in California won’t come knocking in Florida, WV, Illinois, or any prison system, at any given time? Remember California is said to be a liberal (in terms of political policy) state. How many conservative governors are envious of such harsh prison policies right now?!

I urge all of you in every prison and your able-bodied supporters (each of you can ask one of your friends, supporters outside who are in good health) to support this July 8th hunger strike in some form, but don’t wait till this kind of policy pays you a visit… 

Remember Lucasville 
Justiceforlucasvilleprisoners.wordpress.com

Greg Curry (Ohio State Penitentiary)

Gregcurry.org

Greg Curry #213-159
OSP
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road,
Youngstown, OH 44505

Prison Emergency Summit Feb 26th

Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network, 216-925-9108 lucasvillefreedom@gmail.com

“PRISON EMERGENCY SUMMIT”: ALL-DAY CONFERENCE AT CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 26, CALLED BY COMMUNITY GROUPS IN CONJUNCTION WITH CSU’S BLACK STUDIES DEPARTMENT

Using the success of the recent hunger strike of three Lucasville uprising prisoners at Ohio State Penitentiary as a jumping off point, the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network has reached out to community groups, student organizations, academics with special interest in prison issues and prisoner advocacy networks to form an exciting conference at Cleveland State University. The Prison Emergency Summit will start with registration, refreshments and networking at 9:00 am on Saturday, Feb. 26. The presentations by keynote speakers will begint at 10:00 am. Six workshops on topics of pressing concern will take place in the afternoon.

“It is always good to introduce a wide variety of knowledge,” stated Dr. Michael Williams, Director of the CSU’s Black Studies Department. The conference will be taking place in Lecture Hall #201 and smaller break out rooms, one floor above the department, which is Room #MC137 in the Main Classroom Building at 1899 E. 22nd Street at Chester Avenue.

One of the highlights of the conference will be the screening of “Dark Little Secret,” a new documentary by Youngstown filmmaker D Jones, examining the U.S. prison system. D Jones is an Instructor in the Department of Theatre and Film at Bowling Green State University.

Conference topics will include: the campaign to overturn the false convictions of the Lucasville uprising prisoners; the strike of 20,000 prisoners in Georgia; Mumia Abu-Jamal, Imam Al-Amin and other political prisoners; the privatization of Ohio’s prisons; and whether today’s prisons represent the re-imposition of slavery. There will also be cultural presentations, including drumming and poetry.

A partial list of co-sponsors of the Prison Emergency Summit includes: Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network, New Black Panther Party-Cleveland Link, Black on Black Crime Inc., Survivors/Victims of Tragedy Inc., Peoples Fightback Center, Workers World Party, Cleveland FIST, Oppressed Peoples Nation, LOOP (Loved Ones Of Prisoners), Cleveland Anarchist Black Cross, and the Joaquin Hicks Real People Movement. For more info, call 216-925-9108 or email lucasvillefreedom@gmail.com .

Power to the people: A welcome prison victory in Ohio

In: SF Bay View
Posted on January 23, 2011, in: SF Bay View
by Bomani Shakur, aka Keith LaMar

http://sfbayview.com/2011/power-to-the-people-a-welcome-prison-victory-in-ohio/

(Photo:

This is the cast of the play “Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising” by Staughton Lynd, based on his book of the same name, when the play was performed at the Barrow Street Theater as part of the 2008 New York International Fringe Festival)

Although on a very small scale (which by no means diminishes the deed), we, the people, have wrought a revolution – “a sudden and momentous change in a situation” – and accomplished in 12 days what the powers that be have repeatedly told us would never happen. Indeed, for the first time in 16 years, I will be able to hug and kiss my family again! There are no words to express the profound gratitude I feel.

The late, great, revolutionary leader, Che Guevara, once said: “A true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love!” Well, while I cannot claim to be a revolutionary in the strict sense of the word, it is a great feeling of love – for you, the people – that is guiding me right now: Even as I write this, tears of hope and determination are streaming down my face.

When one has been forced to live in a space no larger than a closet for 16 years, 23 hours a day, not only does one begin to feel extremely insignificant, but the very world begins to shrink; and everything, even the smallest thing, seems impossible. Hence, never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the overwhelming outpouring of love and support that came flooding into my cell after I cried out for help.

People from all over the country and the world – England, Ireland, Serbia, Amsterdam – reached out and joined together with us to right an injustice; and surprisingly, miraculously, we succeeded! Everything we demanded was properly handed over.

It would be great if I could say that the worst is over now, and that, with victory in hand, I can live happily ever after. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of living in a fairy tale; the people who are trying to take my life are real, not a figment of my imagination.

In fact, not even a week after my piece, “If We Must Die,” was posted and we embarked on the hunger strike, a federal district judge turned down my appeal, which placed me even further in the balance. It would be naïve of me to believe that this was just a coincidence, an unrelated incident that just so happened to coincide with our peaceful, nonviolent demonstration.

As you may recall, I said some very harsh things – all of them true – against the system; and I say them again: This system is bogus and sold to those with money. In other words, if you don’t have the capital, you get the punishment, and justice, like everything else in this capitalist nightmare, is nothing more than a commodity that is reserved for the highest bidder. Need I say more?

Friends, I beg you not to abandon me to this mockery; inasmuch as my life is not for them to take, I intend to fight them, and I (we) need your help. What they did to us cannot stand up under the bright light of scrutiny.

Because of who we are, they felt that doing a thorough job wasn’t necessary. After all, who’s going to give a damn about a bunch of criminals? With this as their attitude, they utilized a “first-come-first-served” strategy and ended up charging several different people with the same crimes, using different theories; and, in some cases, allowed the actual perpetrators to point the finger elsewhere if they were willing to assist the prosecution in cleaning up its books.

Simply put, what they did to us is a travesty of justice; and yet, our convictions have remained intact through the lower courts of appeal and are quickly making their way through the federal courts. In other words, if we don’t do something to get out in front of this thing, they are going to kill us soon. And it may be that, no matter what we do, they are going to kill us anyway. Well, OK. But if that be the case, let us at least make sure that they not be able to call it justice. If they kill us, let us at least be able to call it what it really is: murder.

Friends, we don’t have to accept this; we don’t have to continue down the path of least resistance, allowing them to do with us whatever they please. If we stand together and speak truth to power, they will have no choice but to right this wrong. They did it in the current confrontation, and they will do it again, not because they want to but because they have to.

Whenever hypocrisy is confronted by the truth, it must capitulate. Therefore, the key to fighting these people is to expose the truth and then hold it up next to what they claim to represent. If we can do this well enough, they will either have to practice what they preach or, as Malcolm X suggests, preach what they practice. Our job is to make sure they don’t have it both ways.

Our friend, Staughton Lynd, has written a book about the uprising, “Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising,” and we need to encourage people to read it. In the coming days, weeks and months, we need to formulate plans to reintroduce the play and launch the documentary, “Dirty Little Secrets,” all with the intended purpose of making as many people as possible aware of what actually happened during the uprising and its aftermath.

Ultimately, the goal is to compose a petition, similar in scope to the ones that were recently circulated, which will then be presented to the governor with the demand that he either issue a general amnesty with respect to all of the Lucasville cases or, in the alternative, convene a panel of qualified experts to determine whether or not a general amnesty is warranted.

In closing, I want to thank each and every one of you for coming forward as you did. I am both humbled and uplifted by the support. When I phoned my 8-year-old niece, Kayla, afterwards and informed her that “Uncle Keith will be able to touch your little hand soon,” she, with excitement brimming in her voice, said, “That’s awesome!” And I couldn’t agree with her more: What we did was awesome! We came together and spoke truth to power and won! Imagine that!

Power to the people!

Bomani Shakur, aka Keith LaMar, one of three men sentenced to death following the 1993 Lucasville rebellion who went on hunger strike Jan. 3, can be reached by writing to Keith LaMar, 317-117, P.O. Box 1436, Youngstown OH 44501. This statement was posted by Denis O’Hearn to the Facebook page, In Solidarity with the Lucasville Uprising Prisoners on Hunger Strike.

http://www.pmpress.org/content/article.php?story=staughtonlynd

http://sfbayview.com/2011/lucasville-prisoners-if-we-must-die/

Prisoners’ hunger strike enters second week

Prisoners’ hunger strike enters second week
January 14, 2011
by Workers World Cleveland bureau
Reproduced in : SF Bay View

“So much energy is coming from all over. I’m just trying to hang on and ride the wave,” wrote political prisoner Bomani Shakur Jan. 6, the third day of his hunger strike at Ohio State Penitentiary. Convicted as Keith LaMar, Bomani and two other death-sentenced prisoners started refusing food on Jan. 3 to demand that they be treated like other prisoners facing execution.

Bomani Shakur (Keith Lamar), one of the Lucasville hungers strikers
The other two hunger strikers are Siddique Abdullah Hasan and Jason Robb, both prisoner negotiators during the 1993 prisoner rebellion at the prison in Lucasville, Ohio. For their success in achieving a negotiated settlement, they received not only the death penalty, but the equivalent of more than 12 years of confinement in the “hole” – solitary confinement stripped of even rudimentary privileges.

Robb has pointed out that other death-row prisoners have been transferred out of the supermax prison or have had their security level relaxed. Along with Namir Abdul Mateen (James Were), these men are the only four prisoners who have been kept relentlessly on OSP’s highest security level.

Bomani expressed his reasons for protesting the conditions of his confinement in a message of poetic eloquence, stating, “In a word, we have been tortured.” (http://www.workers.org/2011/us/bomani_0113) He also stated his demands in a Jan. 3 letter on Facebook to OSP warden David Bobby: “1) Full recreation privileges. 2) Full commissary privileges. 3) Full access to Access SecurePac catalog. 4) Semi-contact visits. 5) Access to computer database so that I can assist in the furtherance of my appeals.”

Desire for justice for the hunger strikers is so widespread that emails within the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network have been posted as articles on many websites, including many sites of the Anarchist Black Cross. Bomani’s “If we must die“ statement has been widely reprinted, including on the Black Left Unity listserve.

Many times a day, new people from all across the country and around the world are joining the Facebook page “In Solidarity with the Lucasville Uprising Prisoners on Hunger Strike.” A large number of Irish people joined recently. The addition of voices from around Ohio, including the Lucasville area, is allowing the start of dialogue about the complex emotions and perspectives still harbored about the 1993 rebellion due to the death of a guard during the uprising. Posts include written, audio and video versions of interviews of the advisers of the prisoners: activist attorney Staughton Lynd and Denis O’Hearn, biographer of Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands.

Also posted on Facebook is a letter by Pádaic Mac Coitir sent to a newspaper in Belfast, in the north of Ireland. Calling for support for the hunger strikers in Ohio, he reminded the readers, “This year marks the 30th anniversary of the hunger strike in the H-blocks of Long Kesh. Ten men died and many others were prepared to die.”

At meetings in the Cleveland area of the New Black Panther Party, Black on Black Crime Inc, and the Imam Al-Amin Defense Committee, outreach is being done for the rally to be held at the gates of OSP on Saturday, Jan. 15, at 1 p.m. At the Jan. 8 protest against the inauguration of incoming Ohio Gov. John Kasich in Columbus, activists were abuzz with talk about the interview of Lynd by Amy Goodman on “Democracy Now.”

“The response has been overwhelming. I have gotten calls and emails from Detroit, Columbus and Philadelphia about bringing carloads of people to the rally and calls from Los Angeles, Denver and Washington, D.C., wanting to help,” exclaimed Sharon Danann, organizer with the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network. “Ohio Prison Watch and Prison Watch International were posting information as fast as I could provide it to them, and the woman I was working with was in Europe. Updates are going out by Twitter. It feels like a new era in organizing.”

Let key prison and congressional officials know that the these prisoners need to be reclassified fairly according to their years of good behavior and released from the most restrictive security level by signing the petition at iacenter.org. Punishment for crimes they did not commit is surely punishment enough.

Their present conditions of confinement are unconstitutional, illegal and immoral. Support the Lucasville hunger strikers! Free all political prisoners! For more information on the Jan. 15 protest, go to the Facebook page, “In Solidarity with the Lucasville Uprising Prisoners on Hunger Strike,” or email mailto:lucasvillefreedom@gmail.com.

© 2011 Workers World. This story was originally published Jan. 13, 2011, by Workers World, 55 W. 17th St., New York NY 10011, ww@workers.org, http://www.workers.org/, at http://www.workers.org/prisoners/prisoners_0120/index.html.

In Solidarity with the Lucasville Uprising Prisoners on Hunger Strike

From the Facebook Group In Solidarity with the Lucasville Uprising Prisoners on Hunger Strike

January 6th 2011:
Just back from the prison visiting Jason Robb. Saw Bomani Shakur yesterday. Spent five hours with each and the conversation never flagged. They are both in good spirits and very lifted by the public response to their action. They have posted signs on their doors: “Hunger Strike: No Trays”.

Last night the doctor came by and weighed Bomani and took a blood sample since he’d refused nine meals and was officially considered to be on hunger strike. He’s 205llb. Jason got the doctor to weigh him a couple of days ago and he is 216llb. He becomes “official” tomorrow morning.

Flooding these guys with emails, phone calls, faxes, is the most important thing we can do right now:

Contact details for authorities to contact about the injustice:

Gary Moore, Director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
770 West Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43222
614-752-1159 or email DRC.publicinfo@odrc.state.oh.us

William A. Eleby, Chief, Bureau of Classification
Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction
770 West Broad Street
Columbus, OH 43222
614-752-1106 or email DRC.publicinfo@odrc.state.oh.us

David Bobby
Warden, Ohio State Penitentiary
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Road
Youngstown, OH 44505-4635
330-743-0700 or fax 330-743-0841 or email JoAnn.King@odrc.state.oh.us

Ohio death row hunger striker: ‘If we must die’


By Bomani Hondo Shakur
Published Jan 3, 2011 7:49 PM
in: Workers World
Also see:
Lucasville, Ohio, prison uprising leaders go on hunger strike

IAC: Support Lucasville prisoners’ hunger strike!

Wrongfully convicted following a prison uprising in Lucasville, Ohio, in 1993, Brother Bomani is currently at Ohio State Penitentiary, a supermax prison, where he and other prisoners began a hunger strike on Jan. 3, 2011. http://www.iacenter.org/ to sign the petition in support of the demands of these prisoners.

Before I speak my piece, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I don’t want to die. I want to live and breathe and strive to do something righteous with my life. Truly. For the past 16 years, however, I’ve been in solitary confinement, confined to a cell 23 hours a day for something I didn’t do and, speaking honestly, I have gone as far as I’m willing to go. Am I giving up? No.

This is a protest, the only nonviolent way I can think of to express the deep disdain I have for the unjust situation that I am in. Make no mistake: My physical and mental strength is intact. However, to continue on in this way would be to lend legitimacy to a process that is both fraudulent and vindictive; this I am no longer willing to do.

I realize that for some of you the thought that an innocent man could be sent to prison and ultimately executed is inconceivable. But it happens. In a system that’s based more on competition than the equitable treatment of others, the football field is not the only place where participants are encouraged to win at all cost.

Hence, in order to be victorious, some prosecutors hide evidence, lie in open court and even pay for the perjured testimony of their witnesses. And this is exactly what happened in my case (and in the majority of the cases stemming from the 1993 prison uprising at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville); there are a few people among you who have reviewed the file and know this to be the truth.

But let us for the moment put aside the question of my guilt or innocence, because that, believe it or not, is not what this is about. On that score, we have written several books, produced a play, and are putting the finishing touches on a full-scale documentary to illustrate the travesty of justice that has taken place here; and these things are available to you if you are interested. For now, I want to talk about dying …

In all that is presently unclear, one thing is certain: I have been sentenced to death, which, as you know, is the severest penalty known to man. Typically, when one has been given the death penalty, one is placed alongside other similarly sentenced prisoners and they, together, are housed in an area that has been designated as death row. As living situations go, this is a very bleak and miserable place. Men are sent here to die, to be killed by the state. No one in their right mind would ask to be sent here; and yet, this is precisely what I am asking, which should give you an indication of just how insufferable the situation I am living under is. And I am not alone.

When the uprising was over, and all was said and done, five of us were singled out as leaders and sentenced to death. Jason Robb, James Were (or “Namir,” as he prefers to be called), Siddique Abdullah Hasan, George Skatzes and myself. With the exception of George Skatzes, who for the past 10 years has been in a less pressurized — though by no means acceptable — situation, we have undergone penalty on top of penalty; been kept from fully participating in our appeals, from touching our friends and families; denied adequate medical treatment; and so many other things that are too numerous to name. In a word, we have been tortured. And yes, I’m aware that the word “tortured” is a strong word to use, but I know of no other word that more adequately describes what we have been through. We have been put through hell.

A few months ago, a federal judge recommended that my case be dismissed, which effectively moved me one step closer to being executed. It’s hard to explain how this made me feel, but upon hearing the news I immediately thought that a mistake had been made and that my attorney had somehow misunderstood the judge’s ruling. As it turns out, I was the one who misunderstood. Indeed, I have been “misunderstanding” things all along.

Treat us with ‘dignity’

When I was first named as a suspect in riot-related crimes, I was certain that my name would eventually be cleared. Instead, I received a nine-count murder indictment with death-penalty specifications. I was shocked. And then they offered me a deal: “Cop out to murder and we’ll forget the whole thing,” they told me. “But I’m innocent,” I said, thinking to myself that the truth of this would somehow set me free. And so, with the trust and faith of a fool, I went to trial, thinking and believing that I would receive a fair one (I didn’t) and that I would ultimately be exonerated (I wasn’t). And then, when I was sentenced to death, it was my understanding that I would be placed on death row and allowed to pursue my appeals alongside other similarly sentenced prisoners; but, again, I misunderstood … “Just wait until you get to federal court,” I was told, “and you’ll definitely get some relief there.” So I waited … I waited for 16 years!

If justice as a concept is real, then I could with some justification say, “Justice delayed is justice denied.” But this has never been about justice, and I finally, finally, finally understand that. For the past 16 years, I (we) have been nothing more than a scapegoat for the state, a convenient excuse that they can point to whenever they need to raise the specter of fear among the public or justify the expenditure of inordinate amounts of money for more locks or chains. And not only that, but the main reason behind the double penalty that we have been undergoing is so that we can serve as an example of what happens to those who challenge the power and authority of the state.

And like good little pawns we’re supposed to sit here and wait until they take us to their death chamber, strap us down to a gurney, and pump poison through our veins. Fuck that! I refuse to go out like that: used as a tool by the state to put fear into the hearts of others while legitimizing a system that is bogus and sold to those with money. That’s not my destiny.

At the beginning of this I wanted to make it perfectly clear that I didn’t want to die, and I don’t. Life is a beautiful thing, especially when one is conscious and aware of the value of one’s life. Sadly, it took going through this process for me to wake up and finally understand the value of my life. I say “wake up” because, unbeknownst to me, I had been asleep all this time, oblivious to the reality of my situation and unaware that the only way for one to stop dreaming (and gain some control over things) is for one to open one’s eyes. My eyes are open now.

Is it too late? I don’t know. As I said, the books have been written, the play has been performed, and, pretty soon, the documentary will be completed. But what good are these things if they never enter into the stream of public opinion and force the governor (who answers to the public) to issue a general amnesty?

Admittedly, convincing the governor to bend in our favor will be a difficult undertaking, one which will require huge amounts of energy and effort on our behalf. But it can be done; at the very least, it can be attempted. In the meantime, we who have been sentenced to death must be granted the exact same privileges as other death-sentenced prisoners. If we must die, we should be allowed to do so with dignity, which is all we’re asking: the opportunity to pursue our appeals unimpeded, to be able to touch our friends and family, and to no longer be treated as playthings but as human beings who are facing the ultimate penalty.

Again, I stress the fact that I do not want to die, but in the words of [poet] Claude McKay, I share the following as my parting sentiments:

If we must die, let it not be like hogs

Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,

While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,

Making their mock at our accursed lot.

If we must die, O, let us nobly die,

So that our precious blood may not be shed

In vain: then even the monsters we defy

Shall be constrained to honor us though deed!

O kinsman! We must meet the common foe!

Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,

And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!

What though before us lies the open grave?

Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,

Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

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