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They won’t cut your fingers off these days, or hoist your body over a bonfire; worse, they’ll give you what appears to be a fair trial, then find you guilty with no evidence to support the verdict, then throw you in solitary confinement for decades (until you either lose your mind or exhaust your appeals), then strap you down to a gurney and pump poison through your veins – and, worst of all, after all is said and done, they’ll call it justice!
“An execution date should not be scheduled because Mr. LaMar’s death sentence is precisely the sort identified by the Joint Task Force to Review the Administration of Ohio’s Death Penalty. Mr. LaMar’s conviction rests on prisoner testimony which is not independently corroborated, there is no physical or video evidence linking him to the crimes and he has always maintained his innocence. Evidence supporting Mr. LaMar’s innocence is slowly coming to light after dogged efforts to unearth such proof following years of suppression.”
I love Donald Trump! Yes, of course, I disagree with most everything he says, and his sensibilities remind me of every racist I have ever met; but I love that he is arrogant enough to believe that telling the truth about how and what he feels is somehow a smart thing to do. In his book, “The Prince,” Niccolo Machiavelli suggested that those who wield power should ‘‘be evil but pretend to be good, sincerely believe in the value of sincerity, but never be frank.’’ Apparently Trump didn’t get the memo.
Within the California Department of Corrections (CDCr), the name George Jackson evokes both fear and hate among prison guards. His very name represents resistance – the epitome of our Black manhood – and this explains in part why the CDCr has spent the last 44 years attempting to censor the name George L. Jackson from within its prisons.
We want to invite every friend of the SF Bay View newspaper to our 40th anniversary party. It’s a free event this Sunday, Feb. 21, 1-5 p.m., at the Main Library, 100 Larkin St., San Francisco. Come one, come all and let’s celebrate 40 years of the most radical Black newspaper in the country. Enjoy a panel of Bay View writers, a fashion show and performances by the legendary Avotcja, Stoney Creation and Sista Iminah reminding us of the beauty and talent in our community.
Today our guest on Block Report Radio is Bomani, formally known as Keith LaMar. He is an Ohio death row political prisoner and survivor of the Lucasville Rebellion 23 years ago. He will talk to us about the history of that rebellion, his recent hunger strike, the state of Ohio planning to set his execution date and more. It’s on honor to have you on, my brother. Can you tell the people about the Lucasville Rebellion?
This is the story that Missouri prisoner Shyheim Deen El-Mu’min wrote on paper bags when guards confiscated the writing paper from him and all the prisoners in his solitary confinement unit. The entire story is one of the longest we’ve ever received, over 10,000 words that filled 14 single-spaced pages when transcribed, so we’ll be presenting it in parts. This is the introduction, addressed to Bay View publisher Dr. Willie Ratcliff.
Keith LaMar, also known as Bomani Shakur, is a prisoner in Ohio, condemned to death on false charges following the 1993 Lucasville Prison Uprising. Bomani is one of five men condemned to death after being railroaded through forced snitch testimony. They are known as the Lucasville Five. The following is an interview with Bomani from death row, recorded on March 7, 2014.
I’m reaching out to inform you all that I finally finished my book, “Condemned.” This book isn’t just about me or about what happened to these men after a prison uprising. It’s about all of us. What happened to me can happen to you. Especially if you are poor. Especially if you are a minority. Especially if you are alone ... or at least feel that you’re alone.
The Re-Examining the Lucasville Uprising Conference, held April 19-21 in Columbus, Ohio, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Lucasville Uprising, was a resounding success by all reports. “A strong and vibrant coalition has come together to advocate for innocence of those convicted in the aftermath of the uprising,” reports Noelle Hanrahan of Prison Radio, one of the organizers.
One big reason the story of Lucasville has to be told again and again is that not only did this tragic, desperate uprising lead to 10 deaths, but five men are still on death row and many more have been given lengthy sentences who declare their innocence. Here is the story in short of Greg Curry, one of the prisoners who received a life sentence even though he had nothing to do with the uprising or the murders.
Twenty years ago, there was a prison uprising in Lucasville. A correctional officer and several prisoners who collaborated with the prison administration were murdered. Imam Saddique Hasan and other prisoners who acted as spokespeople for the prisoners were eventually charged with the murders and have been held on Ohio’s death row ever since.
“The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons,” wrote Dostoyevsky. If what he says is true – and I believe it is – then America, which boasts the largest prison population in the world, is perhaps the most uncivilized country there is. Who better to speak to the reality of prison life than someone who is living the experience?
I first of all want to say that this, what you all are doing, is long overdue and needed if we are ever going to change the direction of this unjust system. I know that for a lot of you the idea of resisting and speaking truth to power is instinctive, and we have to figure out a way to inject this spirit into more people.
Ask anyone who has ever been on a hunger strike; the process of intentionally starving oneself is a very painful ordeal. And yet, there are places on this planet where the idea of death is preferable to continuing down a path that offers no hope or relief from suffering. I live in such a place; I know.
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.
The rally at Ohio State Penitentiary was attended by a large crowd, including many members of the families of the hunger strikers, despite the freezing weather. And there's wonderful news: All three have resumed eating because they achieved a victory. The prison authorities have virtually met their demands. The strikers are in high spirits, and now they can turn their attention to their death sentences. Before, they were fighting about their conditions of confinement, but now they begin the fight for their lives.
The death-sentenced prisoners I visit are so desperate that they are going on hunger strike, essentially for the right to be on death row. After Lucasville, the state of Ohio decided that a maximum security prison was not secure enough. They built a supermax prison, OSP Youngstown.
Four death-sentenced prisoners, wrongfully convicted of crimes following the 1993 prison rebellion in Lucasville, Ohio, started a hunger strike Jan. 3. They say they would rather die, if they must, on their own terms, rather than on a gurney by lethal injection. They want to strike a blow against confinement conditions so inhumane that they amount to torture.
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