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

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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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.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: ww@workers.org

Rally and Press Release Hunger Strike on Death Row, Jan 15th, Youngstown

Hunger Strike on Death Row

Honor Dr. Martin Luther King’s Birthday by Rallying at the Gates of the Ohio State Penitentiary – Saturday, Jan. 15, 1:00 PM

878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd., Youngstown, OH

The Lucasville uprising prisoners have been held for more than 15 years in conditions recognized in most nations as TORTURE. A hunger strike to protest these conditions has been under way since January 3.

Rally and press conference to protest inhumane treatment in Ohio’s supermax prison, OSP.

Gather in the parking lot of the church next to the entrance gate to OSP.

Read a prisoners’ statement and sign a petition at http://www.workers.org/

A collaboration of the Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network, New Black Panther Party – Cleveland, and LOOP (Loved Ones of Prisoners).

For carpooling to Youngstown, Plz email lucasvillefreedom@gmail.com or call 216-571-2518

Protesting inhumane treatment, death penalty in Ohio: Lucasville prison uprising leaders go on hunger strike

By Sharon Danann
Youngstown, Ohio

Published Jan 3, 2011 9:19 PM in Workers World

Also see:

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

IAC: Support Lucasville prisoners’ hunger strike!

Four death-sentenced prisoners, wrongfully convicted of crimes following the 1993 prison rebellion in the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville, Ohio, started a “rolling” hunger strike Jan. 3. The strike is to protest the highly restrictive solitary confinement where they have been placed in the supermax Ohio State Penitentiary, located in Youngstown, since 1998.

These prisoners are starting to run out of appeals. They say they would rather die, if they must, on their own terms, rather than on a gurney by lethal injection. They intend the hunger strike to help strike a blow against confinement conditions so inhumane that they amount to torture.

Bomani Shakur (convicted as Keith LaMar) was the first to refuse food. He writes in a public statement, “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.” (Read his full statement on workers.org.)

The plan is that on Jan. 6, Iman Siddique Abdullah Hasan will join the hunger strike. Imam Hasan, a leader of the Sunni Muslims during the 1993 rebellion, was one of several negotiators for the prisoners. The resulting settlement prevented a reoccurrence of the massacre that took place during the Attica, N.Y., prison rebellion in 1971. Hasan’s “reward” was a death sentence.

Jason Robb is scheduled to start refusing meals on Jan. 9. Robb, a leader of the Aryan Brotherhood, was also a negotiator during the 1993 uprising. Finally, Namir Abdul Mateen (aka James Were) will join the hunger strike to the extent that his health permits.

As seen in the recent prisoner strike in Georgia, the once-hostile Ohio prisoner groupings forged a powerful unity during the 1993 rebellion that has stood the test of time.

The four prisoners went on another hunger strike together in 1996 with George Skatzes, the fifth prisoner to receive the death penalty following the uprising. This hunger strike achieved its aim: Skatzes was transferred out of OSP for medical reasons.

The current hunger strike is up against a warden, David Bobby, who has publicly made it known that he will not give any ground to the hunger strikers.

Ohio executions on the rise

The bigger picture is that Ohio is inaugurating a new governor, John Kasich, an extreme right-winger. Ohio could set a new record for executions, which is already second only to Texas. Ohio was the only state to perform more executions in 2010 than in 2009.

The severe sensory deprivation that the four prisoners have suffered for so long is vindictive punishment for the death of a guard in the 1993 uprising. They have been deliberately kept at the most restrictive security level, Level 5, since they were brought to OSP, in spite of good behavior and cooperation with prison programs. During one of the annual reviews, prison authorities stated in writing, “ … 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.” (http://tinyurl.com/3aywndt)

Supporters of the hunger strikers will gather at the gates of OSP on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, Jan. 15, for a rally and press conference. There will be reports on the status of the hunger strikers, statements from the prisoners and solidarity messages from across the country and around the world.

These prisoners’ convictions should be reexamined immediately given that in recent years key witnesses have recanted damaging testimony against them. These convictions need to be overturned and new trials granted. Attorney Staughton Lynd has provided proof that these convictions relied almost exclusively on witnesses who perjured themselves in exchange for reduced sentences. (Capital University Law Review, Spring 2008, vol. 36, no. 3, p. 559, “Napue Nightmares: Perjured Testimony in Trials Following the 1993 Lucasville, Ohio, Prison Uprising”)

An international movement to support these hunger strikers and to end all inhumane treatment of prisoners is gathering momentum. Now is the time to get on board. Sign the electronic petition in support of the Lucasville hunger strikers at the International Action Center website, http://www.iacenter.org, to demand that the Ohio prison authorities and elected officials allow these heroic prisoners to have their security levels fairly evaluated and reclassified so that at the very least they can have the same privileges as other Death Row prisoners.

Daily updates will be posted on the Facebook site “In Solidarity with the Lucasville Uprising Prisoners on Hunger Strike,” as well as on the IAC website.
Free all political prisoners including the hunger strikers! Humane treatment for all prisoners! Dismantle the profit-making prison-industrial complex!

——————————————————————————–
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.

Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011
Email: ww@workers.org
Subscribe wwnews-subscribe@workersworld.net

Contact info for and about the Lucasville Hunger Strike: Jan. 15 Rally and Press Conference

Dear family, friends and supporters of the Lucasville uprising prisoners,

PETITION Link: http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/ohiosupermaxhungerstrike/

From: Immigrant Support Network
truth_force@yahoo.com
Mark your calendars to come to OSP in Youngstown on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, Saturday, Jan.15, for a rally and press conference. Gather at 12:45, rally and press conference at 1:00. Park in the parking lot of the small church next to the entrance gate to OSP (see address underlined below).

We will have reports from visits with the hunger strikers, messages from the prisoners, solidarity statements, and more. If enough of us gather with enough signs and banners, we can be seen from the prisoners’ windows. So come on down! Bring your friends, your neighbors, your co-workers, your fellow students, and your whole family.

To arrange for car pooling, email: lucasvillefreedom@gmail.com

Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_167034766673281

Become a friend of the facebook site and urge all your facebook friends to do the same. As we get updates during the hunger strike, they will be posted on the facebook page and tweeted by twitter. So get involved and spread the word.

Bomani Shakur is to be the first to start the hunger strike.

For those of you who wish to send him cards, letters and other messages of support, be sure to include his “convicted as” name:
Keith LaMar, # 317-117.

Siddique Abdullah Hasan will join the hunger strike second, probably after three days.
His “convicted as” name is:
Carlos Sanders and his prisoner number is R130559.

Next will be Jason Robb whose prisoner number is A308919.

And finally, Namir Abdul Mateen will join, to the extent that his health will allow.
His “convicted as” name is James Were and his prisoner number is 173245.

The address for all four prisoners is:

Ohio State Penitentiary
878 Coitsville-Hubbard Rd.,
Youngstown, OH 44505-4635.

You can also reach them via Jpay.com.

We wish them all victory and good health.

You can also send the prisoners email through the JPay-Ohio system once you set up an account. It will cost you 25-30 cents per page of email, depending how many virtual “stamps” you purchase at once.

Messages of solidarity and support are of course welcome.

In addition, we should be deluging certain officials with our support for the prisoners’ demands, which are, very simply, that they be treated like other Death Row prisoners and be afforded the same tiny privileges to the other prisoners held in OSP who are also sentenced to die, such as physical contact with loved ones.

Fair and just annual reviews that took into account these prisoners’ 12 years of good behavior would have resulted in recommendations of removal from the highly restrictive “level 5” solitary confinement they have been subjected to for no reason other than vindictive need for punishment – for crimes they did not commit, folks, don’t forget that! This is inhumane, this is unconstitutional, this is illegal, this is deplorable, this is an international disgrace – and it must stop.

Please contact the following people to speak your mind:

OSP Warden David Bobby, 330-743-0700 or fax 330-743-0841 or email JoAnn.King@odrc.state.oh.us

ODRC Director Ernie Moore,614-752-1159 (couldn’t find fax) or email DRC.publicinfo@odrc.state.oh.us

People from Cleveland, please contact state Senator Shirley Smith, who is on the Correctional Institution Inspection Committee, 614-466-4857 or email SD21@maild.sen.state.oh.us

The facebook page will direct you to an electronic petition. Other initiative are in the works. If you have ideas, suggestions and information, please post them. There are people working on this cause literally around the world. But we need to build the strength of support for the very modest demands of the hunger strikers and ensure a swift victory. So get the word out to all interested organizations and individuals. Now is the time for not only a nationwide prisoner support movement, but an international prisoner support movement. Let’s make it happen!

Lucasville Uprising Freedom Network