Lucasville Media Access Hunger Strike Ends

May 6th, 2013
For Immediate Release to the Public

From: Siddique Abdullah Hasan and Gregory Curry:

Lucasville Media Access Hunger Strike Ends
[click on link to hear the voice version by Hasan]

YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO– Today, at 3:15 p.m., Greg Curry and I, Siddique Abdullah Hasan, decided to end our almost month-long hunger strike. The strike commenced on April 11, the 20th anniversary of the Lucasville prison uprising. The sole purpose of our strike was to vigorously challenge the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) continuously denying us to have direct access to the media- that is: on-camera interviews with the media.

While both death-row and non-death row prisoners in Ohio are granted on-camera access to the media, those who have been reailroaded and convicted of crimes stemming from the Lucasville Uprising have continuously been denied equal protection under the law. 

And though ODRC policy permits its prisoners to meet with the media to discuss their criminal cases, this policy has not been applicable to those of of convicted of riot related offenses. In fact, in 2003, the then-prison chief, Reginald Wilkinson, made it perfectly clear to Kevin Mayhood a staff reporter at the Columbus Dispatch that: “no inmates convicted of riot crimes will be permitted to speak with [them].” This blanket and collective denial is contrary to ODRC’s own state-wide Media Policy, which Mr. Wilkinson’s successors have been unconstitutionally enforcing his vindictive directive. 

We want to thank all our supporters, as well as some reporters in the media, who have been agressively assisting us in challenging this unconstitutional media blockade.

We also want to thank the various organizations who have expressed interest in this matter– that is, the flagrant violation of our first amendment guarantees which protect freedom of speech and redress from government excesses.

Finally we want to thank Warden David Bobby for negotiating with us in good faith and for being the liaison between us and his hard-line superiors at Central Office.

Because of these factors, we decided to end our hunger strike and allow this crucial matter to be litigated through the court. God willing, we will be granted a resounding legal victory against the prisoncrats who wish to silence us in a deliberate ongoing attempt to prevent us from revealing the truth about our criminal convictions, convictions which are a serious affront and travesty of justice. Until then, I remain…

In the trenches,

Siddique Abdullah Hasan.
####

A Welcome Prison Victory at Youngstown

By Denis O’Hearn
in: Monthly Review, 19th January 2011

Three death-sentenced men went on hunger strike in Ohio State Penitentiary on January 3 to win the same rights as others on death row in the state. On Saturday January 15, the twelfth day of their protest, a crowd of supporters gathered in the parking lot by the tiny evangelical church at the entrance to the prison on the outskirts of Youngstown. They ranged from the elderly and religious to human rights supporters to members of various left groups. They were expecting to participate in the first of a series of events in coming weeks to support the men on their road to force-feeding, or even possible death. Things did not turn out as expected. For once, this was for the better.

The day’s events began when a small delegation made up of the hunger strikers’ relatives and friends (Keith Lamar’s Uncle Dwight, Siddique Hasan’s friend Brother Abdul, and Alice Lynd for Jason Robb), went up to the prison through the snow and ice to deliver an Open Letter addressed to OSP Warden David Bobby and Ohio’s state prison officials. The letter, which supported the demands of the hunger strikers, was signed by more than 1,200 people including the famous (Noam Chomsky), human-rights-leaning legal experts from Ohio and around the world, prominent academics and writers, and ordinary retired teachers and religious ministers. It was Saturday, so Warden Bobby was not there to meet the delegation, but he’d been aware of their coming and left someone at the front desk to take the letter.

Hopeful word of a settlement of the hunger strike had been circulating among a few friends and activists for two days. It was definitively confirmed that morning when visitors to Jason Robb received a copy of a written agreement from Warden Bobby (see below) outlining a settlement that provided practically all of their demands, despite his insistence at the beginning of the strike that he would not give in to duress.

Although the hunger strikers told me that they were optimistic from the very beginning, there were grounds to expect a harder battle. Bomani Shakur (Keith Lamar) described an incident with the Deputy Warden at the beginning of his protest.

“You know, LaMar, a human being can only go so long without food,” he chided Shakur.

“Yeah, I know,” replied Bomani, “but according to the state of Ohio I’m not human, so I don’t have to worry about that!”

Nonetheless, Warden Bobby and his deputies had been meeting with the hunger strikers for some days and they agreed that they would end their protest upon receipt of the warden’s letter. Friends and relatives who came to visit Siddique Hasan and Keith Lamar (aka Bomani Shakur) told visiting friends and relatives similar details about the end of the strike. Both men said that they had resumed eating.

Shakur told one of his friends that he’d “just been eating hot-dogs.” She replied that it was crazy to eat such things on an empty stomach. Bomani just laughed and said, “but I was hungry, man!”

The delegation returned to the crowd and began the rally. The surprise was revealed to all. The hunger strike was over.

Jason Robb’s victory statement was relayed to the crowd. He wanted to thank everybody for their support, for without it the men would have won nothing. But now, he said, it was time to shift the focus to the fact that five men, including the three hunger strikers, are awaiting execution for things they did not do.

“The energy around our protest went viral,” he told Alice and Staughton Lynd on a prison visit. “This time around the fight was for better prison conditions. Now we begin fighting for our lives.”

Why a Hunger Strike?

The “Lucasville Five” includes the three hunger strikers plus Namir Mateen, who did not join the hunger strike due to medical complications, and George Skatzes, who was transferred out of isolation at OSP after he was diagnosed with chronic depression. All five are awaiting execution for a variety of charges, mostly complicity in the murders of prisoners and a guard during the Lucasville prison uprising of 1993. In a case that resembles that of the Angola 3 in Louisiana, they have been held in solitary isolation for 23 hours a day for more than 17 years, since the evening the uprising ended. This is despite the fact that three of them helped negotiate a settlement of the uprising that undoubtedly saved lives, and despite a promise within the agreement that there would be no retribution against any of the prisoners.

The Ohio prison authorities went back on their word. They not only put the five men in isolation but they built the supermax prison at Youngstown to hold them that way in perpetuity. Having built the prison, they had to fill 500 beds, despite the fact that a small Secure Housing Unit at Lucasville had never been full. But the 1990s were the decade of the supermax. So men who were charged with minor offences found themselves locked up in Youngstown on “Level 5 security,” meaning that they were held for 23 hours a day in a cell no bigger than a city parking space. The steel-doored cells and even the recreation areas where they spent an hour a day were built in such a way as to ensure that they would never have contact with another living being — human, animal, or plant. “Outdoor recreation” was in a cement-walled enclosure that was only outdoor if you consider that the roof is a steel grille. Hundreds of men have come and gone since 1998. Only four, the three hunger strikers and Namir Mateen, remain locked up in perpetual isolation.

A case is underway in the Middle District Court of Louisiana that is likely to judge this kind of treatment as a violation of the eighth amendment prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishment. It may be that the Ohio authorities see the handwriting on the wall and they want to improve the conditions of Ohio’s supermax before they are forced to do so by another court ruling, like the Wilkinson vs Austin case of 2005 in which the US Supreme Court forced them to improve conditions in the supermax.

One of the holdings of the Supreme Court instructed the Ohio authorities to follow Fifth Amendment provision on due process. In 2000, two years after the supermax opened, they began giving annual reviews to the death-sentenced Lucasville prisoners. But the reviews are not meaningful. One of the reviews even concluded, “You were admitted to OSP in May of 1998. We are of the opinion that your placement offense is so severe that you should remain at the OSP permanently or for many years regardless of your behavior while confined at the OSP.” Thus, the four have been condemned to de facto permanent isolation.

This lack of meaningful review, as well as the continued lack of human contact despite the agreement that ended the Youngstown hunger strike, might yet be the focus of litigation not just in Ohio but in other supermaxes around the United States, such as California’s notorious “Secure Housing Unit” at Pelican Bay State Prison.

The conditions of supermax are a running sore on the US human rights record, a sort of elephant in the room that few people want to talk about. Yet there is a growing sentiment among experts and policymakers against extreme isolation, both because of its cost but also due to the judgment that it is a form of torture.

And it is these conditions of extreme isolation, without hope of ever touching a fellow human apart from a prison guard, that drove these men to the ultimate protest of hunger strike. As Bomani Shakur wrote in a statement that announced his hunger strike, none of the men wanted to die. But in such conditions of isolation, and in the absence of any way of proving to the authorities that they were not a security risk if allowed to mix with other prisoners or have semi-contact visits, depriving themselves of food was the only non-violent means of protest that remained for them.

What Now?

For the Lucasville Five, the main attention turns now to their wrongful convictions and to the death penalty itself. Ohio is the only state in the US that executed more men in 2010 than in 2009. And it is second only to Texas in its rate of executions. For the past two years, the state has attempted to execute one man a month, although that attempt has been slowed by botched executions and by some surprising grants of clemency by former governor Ted Strickland. One can only hope that moves away from the use of the death penalty in states like New Mexico and, most recently, Illinois are the beginning of a more general move to do away with this backward policy.

The hunger strikers expressed their hopes, to relatives and other visitors, that the energy that built up around supporting their recent protest could now be turned toward getting them off their death sentences and allowing them to prove their innocence. Ironically, the improved conditions that they won through hunger strike could help in this regard. Among their demands — increased time outside of their cells, semi-contact visits, and equal access to commissary — was the demand that they be allowed to access legal databases like other death-sentenced prisoners, so that they could work toward their appeals.

For now, this is most important to Bomani Shakur. In a shocking recent decision, a district court judge affirmed the recommendation of the magistrate against his petition for habeas corpus without any discussion of the merits of the judgment. Shakur believes that the judge made this seemingly rash judgment in retaliation for his role in the hunger strike. Whether he has reason to believe this or not, he and his counsel now have to turn to the Federal Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. In real terms, what might have been a further process of five years to execution now seems to have been shortened to perhaps three. The US judicial system is strongly biased against appeal, even in most egregious cases of injustice. So the Lucasville Five now have a hard case to argue. It is a case where public opinion and social movement may have more impact than the law, just as public pressure seems to have played a decisive role in winning a successful end to the hunger strike after such a short period.

Bomani Shakur told Alice and Staughton Lynd that the denial of his habeas petition by the district court makes him more determined and focused on what he needs to do in the next few years. Activists and supporters in Ohio and beyond will be asked to find the same kind of focus.

The Agreement That Ended the Hunger Strike (click to enlarge):

——————————————————————————–
Denis O’Hearn, Director of Graduate Studies, Sociology Department, Binghamton University – SUNY.

A great rally, a great victory for the Lucasville hunger strikers

January 15, 2011

by Denis O’Hearn
SF Bay View and Facebook

Jan. 15, 4:33 p.m. – I have a short report on today’s rally at the Ohio State Penitentiary in support of the three men on hunger strike. But first, I can now report to you the wonderful news that all three have resumed eating because they achieved a victory. The prison authorities have provided, in writing, a set of conditions that virtually meets the demands set out by Bomani Shakur in his letter to Warden Bobby, provided below.

Ohio State Penitentiary

The hunger strikers send you all thanks for your support and state that they couldn’t have won their demands without support from people from around the world. But they add to their statement the following: This time they were fighting about their conditions of confinement, but now they begin the fight for their lives.

They were wrongfully convicted of complicity in 1993 murders in Lucasville prison and have faced retribution because they refused to provide snitch testimony against others who actually committed those murders. Now, because of Ohio’s – and other states’ – application of the death penalty, they still face execution at a future date. Ohio is today exceeded only by Texas in its enthusiasm for applying the death penalty. We need to take some of this energy that was created around the hunger strike to help these men fight for their lives.

So, we may celebrate a great victory for now. Common sense has prevailed in a dark place where there appeared to be no light. But watch this space for further news on their ongoing campaign.

I hope to share a copy of the Ohio prison authorities’ written statement that ended this hunger strike in a short time.

As Bomani has told me many times, “It ain’t over …”

Jan. 15, 4:40 p.m. – The rally at OSP was attended by a large crowd, including many members of the families of the hunger strikers, despite the freezing weather. Family members met with the hunger strikers this morning and they reported that they were in high spirits on ending their hunger strike and winning their demands, but that they now had to turn their attention to their death sentences.

Statements of support came from all over the world and a small delegation of relatives, along with Alice Lynd, went to the prison and left a copy of our open letter for Warden David Bobby, signed by more than 1,200 people including prominent people from Ohio and around the world. Warden Bobby was not there, but a designated representative received the letter on his behalf with a promise that he would read it.
The crowd then proceeded to a church hall in downtown Youngstown for refreshments and some celebration over the good news. The organizers, especially Sharon Danann and Alice and Staughton Lynd, want to thank everyone who supported these men for their contribution to this victory.

Our thoughts are with Bomani, Hasan, Jason and Namir, and we will remain at their sides.

Denis O’Hearn is professor of sociology at Binghamton University SUNY. His book, “Nothing But an Unfinished Song,” is a biography of the Irish hunger striker Bobby Sands. This story first appeared on the Facebook page “In Solidarity with the Lucasville Uprising Prisoners on Hunger Strike.” Contact Denis O’Hearn through Facebook, at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1533483976&v=wall.

Lucasville hunger strikers’ support rally outside Ohio State Penitentiary on MLK’s birthday Saturday, Jan. 15, 1 p.m.

January 14, 2011
Delegation to present Warden David Bobby’s representative with letter of support for the hunger strikers with hundreds of signatures

by Sharon Danann, Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network
in: SF Bay View

Three inmates on death row at Ohio State Penitentiary have been on hunger strike since Monday, Jan.3, to protest the conditions of their confinement. All three prisoners received death sentences following the rebellion in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, and have been held at the highest security level, Level 5, since they were transferred to OSP In 1998.

The hunger strikers, Keith LaMar, Siddique Abdullah Hasan (Carlos Sanders) and Jason Robb are simply asking that they be treated like other death row prisoners. A fourth prisoner, Namir Abdul Mateen (James Were), may join the hunger strike as his health permits. Other prisoners at OSP may go on hunger strike on Jan. 15 to show their support for the hunger strike in progress.

Robb has pointed out that other prisoners from the Lucasville disturbance have been transferred out of OSP or have had their security levels reduced so that they are not suffering the extreme restrictions of Level 5. In the words of LaMar, also known by his chosen name, Bomani Hondo Shakur:

“We have undergone penalty on top of penalty, 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.”

An “Open Letter” has been circulating and has collected more than 1,200 signatures (see below). In the sampling of the first 100 names, it can be seen that the prisoners have support from Ohio, many other states and all across the globe, among them many prominent citizens. After the participants in the rally have had the opportunity to add their names to the list, a delegation of friends and family members of the hunger strikers will proceed to OSP to present the signed letter to Warden David Bobby’s designated representative. Youngstown attorney Staughton Lynd is available to answer questions about the “Open Letter” at (330) 652-9635.

Supporters are driving in from other states and from several Ohio cities to participate in the rally at the gates of OSP. Family members of the hunger strikers will be in attendance. Messages of solidarity will be read that are coming in from across the country and around the world. In particular, people in Ireland are remembering the tragic deaths of 10 prisoners who went on hunger strike thirty years ago and are sending words of understanding and support.

The location for Saturday’s event is 878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd., Youngstown, Ohio. The rally and press conference is a joint effort of the Youngstown-based prisoner-advocacy organization, LOOP (Loved Ones Of Prisoners), the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network and the Cleveland chapter of the New Black Panther Party.

Contact Sharon Danann and the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network at (216) 571-2518 lucasvillefreedom@gmail.com.
Open letter to Ohio prison officials on behalf of the Lucasville prisoners on hunger strike

To: Warden David Bobby, Ohio State Penitentiary; Director Gary Mohr, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction; and Chief William A. Eleby, Bureau of Classification, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation

We the undersigned call for an end to isolated “supermax” imprisonment in Ohio State Penitentiary. We are especially concerned about the cases of Siddique Abdullah Hasan (Carlos Sanders), Bomani Shakur (Keith LaMar), Jason Robb and Namir Abdul Mateen (James Were), who are on hunger strike in protest against their conditions of confinement. We understand that they have taken this course of action out of total frustration with their hopeless situation at OSP (Ohio State Penitentiary).

These men have been kept in isolation continuously since they were sentenced to death for their alleged roles in the 11-day rebellion at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, Ohio, in April 1993. Hasan and Robb were two of the three men who negotiated a peaceful surrender in that rebellion and their actions undoubtedly saved lives.

Throughout their more than 17 years of solitary confinement, these four men have been subjected to harsher conditions than the more than 150 other men sentenced to death in Ohio. The conditions under which they are confined prevent them from ever being in the same space as another prisoner. Judge James Gwin of federal district court noted with amazement during the trial of the prisoners’ class action, Austin v. Wilkinson, that death-sentenced prisoners at the highest security level in the Ohio State Penitentiary wanted to be returned to Death Row!

The four have suffered Level 5 top security isolation since OSP was opened in 1998. This essentially means that they live in 23-hour lockup in a hermetically sealed environment where they have almost no contact with other living beings – human, animal or plant. When released from their cells for short periods of “recreation,” they continue to be isolated from others. During occasional visits, a wall of bullet-proof glass separates them from their visitors. They remain shackled, despite the fact that they could do no harm in these secure spaces. A few booths away, condemned men from death row sit in cubicles where a small hole is cut from the security glass between them and their visitors. They can hold their mother’s hand. With a little effort, they can kiss a niece or a grandchild. They do not have to shout to hold a conversation.

Hasan, LaMar, Robb and Were experience annual “security reviews,” but their outcome is predetermined. The prison authorities have told them, in writing:

“You were admitted to OSP in May of 1998. We are of the opinion that your placement offense is so severe that you should remain at the OSP permanently or for many years regardless of your behavior while confined at the OSP.”

The lack of a meaningful review violates the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Keeping men in supermax isolation for long periods clearly violates the Eighth Amendment prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. Moreover, the emphasized words above directly violate the explicit instruction of the Supreme Court of the United States in Wilkinson v. Austin.

These men are being held in solitary confinement permanently, until they are put to death by Ohio or their convictions reversed. This is not simply long-term solitary confinement, but in essence permanent solitary confinement.

Other prisoners sentenced to death for alleged crimes comparable to or worse than those for which Hasan, LaMar, Robb and Were were found guilty have been moved off of Level 5 – to Death Row, to Level 4 at OSP and out of OSP entirely. One of the four Lucasville defendants asks, “Must I have a mental breakdown in order to get off Level 5?”

We demand that the Ohio prison authorities remove these four men from Level 5 “supermax” security and that they end the cruel practice of long-term isolated confinement.

Signed by:

Jules Lobel, Vice President, Center for Constitutional Rights, Professor of Law, University of Pittsburgh

Christine Link, Executive Director, ACLU of Ohio

Noam Chomsky, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

David Goldberger, Professor Emeritus of Law, Ohio State University

Barbara Ehrenreich, author, academic, activist

Mike Ferner, National President, Veterans for Peace

Immanuel Wallerstein, academic and writer

Boaventura de Sousa Santos, University of Coimbra, Distinguished Legal Scholar, University of Wisconsin

Edward S. Herman, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

Professor Gabriel Palmer-Fernandez, Director, Dr. James Dale Ethics Center, Youngstown State University

Andrej Grubacic, author and lecturer at San Francisco Art Institute

Peter Linebaugh, historian, University of Toledo, Ohio

Michael Albert, founder, Znet

Professor Thomas Mathiesen, KROM, The Norwegian Association for Penal Reform, Oslo, Norway

Jana Schroeder, Former Director, American Friends Service Committee Ohio Criminal Justice Program

Jesse Lemisch, Professor of History Emeritus, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY

Denis O’Hearn, Professor of Sociology, Binghamton University, SUNY

Ellen Kitchens, CURE-Ohio, Inc.

Christian G. De Vito, Associazione Liberarsi, Italy

Lorry Swain, migrant rights activist, Ohio

Robert W. McChesney, Gutgsell Endowed Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana, Champaign

Jason Jaffery, Development Director, ACLU of Ohio Foundation

Kathie Izor, Colorado CURE Board

Raj Patel, author and scholar

Katherine Soltis, Chair, Cleveland Coalition Against the Death Penalty

Ioanna Drosou, Greek Initiative for Prisoners’ Rights

Immanuel Ness, CUNY, Editor, Working USA

Ron Keine, Assistant Director, Witness to Innocence

Carlos Ivan Ramos, Ph.D., Executive Director, Hispanic UMADAOP, Cleveland

Michael Parenti, author and scholar

Veronica Dahlberg, Board Member, ACLU Cleveland Chapter

Professor Phil Scraton, Law School, Queens University, Belfast

Sam Bahour, Management Consultant, West Bank, Palestine

Bob Fitrakis, Editor, Free Press, Columbus, Ohio

Faye Harrison, Southern Human Rights Organizers’ Network

Reverend Dorsey R. Stebbins, Cincinnati, Ohio

Herbert P. Bix, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, SUNY, Binghamton

John Polanski, ordained minister, Mineral Ridge, Ohio

Judith Stanger, retired teacher, Boardman, Ohio

James Gilligan, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Law, New York University

James E. Ray, ordained minister, Poland, Ohio

Marcus Rediker, Historian, University of Pittsburgh

John Stoffer, Elder of Presbyterian Church, Salem, Ohio

Kathleen McGarry, attorney, New Mexico

Mary Ann Meaker, Ohioans to Stop Executions

Paulette F Dauteuil, The Jericho Movement for PP’s/POW

Sarah L. Duncan, retired teacher, Vienna, Ohio

Fr. Joseph E. Mulligan, S.J., Nicaragua

Jim Jordan, assistant for autistic children, Vienna, Ohio

Joe Lombardo, co-coordinator, United National Antiwar Committee, UNAC

Andrew Lee Feight, Associate Professor of History, Shawnee State University

Jane Stoffer, retired drug counselor, Salem, Ohio

Margaret J Plews, Arizona Prison Watch

Peter Rachleff, Professor of History, Macalester College, Saint Paul, Minnesota

Lynn Thompson Bryant, Presbyterian pastor, Akron, Ohio

And more than 1,100 others. (note: yes we too signed – OHPW)

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.

Send Cards and Letters to Lucasville Hunger Strikers!

From: Denis O’Hearn 12:25pm Jan 10
Via Nattyreb:

I Just received the following from Joe O’Donnell in Belfast:

Give the boys everyones regards from Belfast and tell them that our prayers are with them!!!!!!!!!
Remember Bobby Sands MP;
They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken.
Bobby Sands

Greetings, cards, and letters from everyone but especially political prisoners gives a lift to the hunger strikers. When I visited Bomani Shakur last week he was reading Nor Meekly Serve My Time, a remarkable book written by Irish political prisoners about their struggle of the 1970s/1980s. Thankfully, he said, they weren’t leaving trays of food with plates piled high in his cell, like they did with Bobby Sands and other Irish hunger strikers. But the deputy warden came to see Bomani and kind of taunted him: “You know, LaMar the human body can only go so long without food.” “I know,” Bomani replied, “but according to the state of Ohio I’m not human, so it shouldn’t be a problem!”

Once again, you can send cards and letters of support to the following addresses.

Addresses:

Keith Lamar #317-117
PO Box 1436,
Youngstown OH 44501
USA
(in your letter, you can refer to him by his preferred name, Bomani Shakur)

Jason Robb #308-919
PO Box 1436,
Youngstown OH 44501
USA

Siddique Abdullah Hasan, #R 130-559
PO Box 1436,
Youngstown OH 44501
USA

James Were, #173-245
PO Box 1436,
Youngstown OH 44501
USA
(refer to him by his preferred name Namir Abdul Mateen)

You can also use Jpay.com and send an email to them, plz leave your reply mail in case they would like to thank you.

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