by Abdul Olugbala Shakur, Mutope Duguma and Heshima Denham
The Free Speech Society is a movement that is dedicated towards protecting and defending the First Amendment rights of imprisoned activists. As imprisoned activists, we are embedded reporters for the people. We are the eyes and ears for the people – for the taxpayers – articulating the human atrocities that plague the prison industrial slave complex with impunity in your name.
Human atrocities compelled by racial oppression can only flourish when silence permeates the corridors of the vortex of torture, the PISC, necessitating the manifested destiny of a collective insurgence of voices of resistance forged by the rediscovery of our humanity. The FSS is an expression of that humanity.
Though our endeavor is just, the agents of torture and repression – the OCS (Office of Correctional Safety), SSU (Special Services Unit), IGI (Institutional Gang Investigations) and ISU (Investigations Services Unit) – have dedicated their resources towards silencing our voices and suffocating the true spirit of free speech.
This mission statement is only a brief invite designed to both captivate and solicit free speech loving people to join our movement and assist us in mobilizing against the forces of repression. If you are interested, please contact the following:
Abdul Olugbala Shakur (s/n J. Harvey), C-48884, CSP Cor SHU 4B-1L-25, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212
Mutope Duguma (s/n J. Crawford), D-05996, PBSP SHU D2-107, P.O. Box 7500, Crescent City CA 95532
Heshima Denham, J-38283, CSP Cor SHU 4B-1L-25, P.O. Box 3481, Corcoran CA 93212
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.
(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.
We received this from a correspondent who is currently in the “hole” in Mansfield C.I.:
Oct 10, 2012
From the “hole” (administrative segregation)
This is the last working pen we have. Guards said they no longer provide pens + they won’t let us get to our property to get pens, so this is a way to silence the entire segregation population. Isn’t it coincidental that policy changes like this occur every time I’m placed in segregation? You would almost think this is an effort to silence me, and everyone else impacted are just dolphins caught in a tuna net. So this may be the last anyone hears from me for a while, including my attorney. No pen, no outgoing mail.
As a last matter, all reading material sent to me is withheld, it would be wonderful if out of spite a million people sent reading material and overwhelmed the […] mailroom.
People: Please send this man some mail and interesting politically progressive reading materials (copies)!
Sean Swain # 243205
P. O. Box 788 1150 North Main Street Mansfield, Ohio 44901