Thursday, October 18, 2018

Keith LaMar responds to execution date motion.

From Justice for Keith LaMar

12 October 2018

Hello everybody,

I’m sorry that it has taken me so long to respond and say something about the recent news regarding my pending execution date. To be perfectly honest, I’ve been floundering a bit, trying to find my footing. I wrote a response to the AP’s announcement, which I thought was a bit premature on their part; I mean, the actual date is the “news,” not the State’s request. But it is what it is, I suppose. Of course I’ve had quite a few years to get used to the idea of my eventual demise (eventual no matter how it happens), and so the news came as no real surprise. I try not to spend my time lying to myself. I’ve been on death row for 23 years now, and so things were always tending to this. Still, waiting and actually arriving are two different things. Now that I am here (so to speak), I thought it best to pause and take a peek inside myself, see what it all means. And what does it all mean?
Well, for most of us, it means what it has always meant: the strong do what they want, and the weak suffer what they must. So, yeah, I’ve been doing my share of suffering these past few weeks, going through bouts of extreme anger and, I’m embarrassed to say, wallowing in deep sadness. But why sadness when I’ve been caught in this trap for 30 years? I mean, I really and truly hate this place—the horrible food, the constant clanging of the keys, and the sheer senselessness of it all. And, yet, the thing that truly saddens me (and upsets me in equal part), is the thought that on some as yet undetermined date, these people (?) will force me onto a gurney and call it justice. And it’s this—the whole “calling it justice” thing—that opens my eyes each morning. I can’t allow them to do that, to carry this thing out as if it’s legit. I mean, kill me if you must, but call it what it is: Murder!
So, you see, I’m caught up in the throws of some very powerful emotions at the moment, trying to marshal my strength and focus in order that I might be able to rise to the occasion. It’s going to take me a little time to gather my force, to get my feet under me, and I ask that you all be patient with me and not doubt the depth of my convictions. I have my finger on the thread of something powerful, which, if properly pursued, will show the system for what it is. Something similar to what Christine Blasey Ford did. She really made a mockery out of THEM, made them all look like the petty, stupid little men that they are. I intend to do the same thing.
I don’t know how closely you were all following the whole hearing debacle. But I watched it with keen interest, looking for parallels and matching metaphors to the larger context. You see, to me, the whole system of capitalism (of which patriarchy is but an extension) is predicated on rape, on holding people down and fucking them. So, in a very real sense, we are all Christine Blasey Ford, and must do what she did: speak truth to power. To me (and I believe this was true for Mrs. Ford as well), “winning” was never about preventing Kavanaugh from being confirmed (no more than my “winning” is about preventing these people from killing me): that, after all, was never within her power to do. Nevertheless, what she did—and the price she paid for doing it—was instructive. She set herself free, and that was such a beautiful thing to see. She spoke about how, after the incident happened, she, too, found herself floundering, trying to find her way forward. She spoke about how her grades suffered and how her relationships, even up to the present, were affected by the memory of what she went through. But she also, over the years, has become an accomplished woman, and has somehow managed to hold it together in spite of what was going on inside of her. And then she sees the name "Kavanaugh" on the short list to sit on the highest court of the land, and the grown woman in her saw it as an opportunity to release the young person that she was from the prison that she's been trapped in all these years. She probably didn't know that she would have to do it on nationwide television in front of the whole world. But when she found out that that would be the context, she didn't shy away, and that, too, was beautiful to see.
At the same time she showed us that the Supreme Court (the same court that decreed Black people were 3/5 human beings) is a supreme joke! This whole system is a sham, and we have to come to see it for what it is. There’s nothing behind the curtain (or under the skirt) if we’re talking of the Lady of Liberty; it’s just a group of old, white men pulling levers. Until we see that, until we understand that the only way home (freedom) is through confrontation (or “facing our fears”), we will never discover who we are.
And maybe it’s true to say (as some have said) that it’s too late to save ourselves. Maybe it’s the destiny of mankind to destroy itself, in which case this civilization will perish like all the others. However, in the meantime, “it is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners!” So, yeah, I intend to do my job. I just need a little time to think, and I hope you all will join me in this thinking process, and that we together can figure out a way forward.
To the bitter end,
Bomani Shakur

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Visitation interference at OSP

Hasan on a visit in 2014 with Joyce and her son D Jones, director of "The Great Incarcerator 2: The Shadow of Lucasville."
A few supporters of the Lucasville Uprising prisoners held at OSP have been permanently restricted from visiting any Ohio prisons.

On September 13, Ben Turk scheduled visits with Hasan and others. Upon hearing Ben's name, the scheduling officer got weird and dug through his visiting history, but found no restrictions and scheduled the visits. Ten minutes later, a sergeant called back to tell Ben he was restricted from visiting and should have received a letter.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Keith LaMar Execution Motion Response

“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.” -excerpt from motion.

Keith LaMar’s attorneys filed this response to prosecutor Mark Piepmeier’s motion requesting an execution date. Piepmeier was lead attorney on the Lucasville Uprising cases, and largely responsible for egregious misconduct and deal-making that secured these convictions based on informant testimony and withheld evidence. He has a documented pattern of doing the same to other defendants.

The response starts by pointing out ways that Keith’s case fits within recommendations made by the joint task force on death penalty cases, specifically: relying on uncorroborated snitch testimony, disproportionately targeting black people, and relying on evidence improperly withheld at trial. It goes on to detail that withheld evidence, including statements by trial witnesses and others that could easily cast reasonable doubt if not fully exonerate Keith if he were afforded a new trial.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Greg Curry's Struggle to Exit the Supermax

[UPDATE: Comrades in Pittsburgh created this poster for Greg.]

Greg Curry was charged with joining the death squad that killed snitches during the first day of the uprising based on informant testimony that prosecutors later admitted was coerced and other very improper proceedures. Greg says he never even entered the occupied cell block, but he was convicted nevertheless.

Unlike Keith Lamar, he did not receive the death sentence, instead he is serving life without the possibility of parole. Many within the ODRC have made it their mission to correct the judge's "mistake" of the lighter sentence by targeting Greg for "special treatment" including attempts on his life.

In addition to that violence, the ODRC has made it incredibly hard for Greg to step down through their web of security levels so he can get out of solitary confinement. Serving years longer than other prisoners at every stage, and often being lied to about impending transfers to other prisons that are obstructed at the last minute. He is now at level 4A prisoner, but this is "in name only" because of the ODRC's determination to hold him at Ohio State Penitentiary (OSP) the supermax outside of Youngstown.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Let Lucasville Uprising Prisoners Tell their Own Stories!

Staughton and Alice Lynd's recent article in the National Lawyers Guild Review, Vol. 74, No. 4 (Winter 2018).


Not only did the authorities inhibit media contact during the uprising, they rigidly followed the same policy until summer 2017. In their answer to a complaint filed in a lawsuit by a number of prisoners and reporters, the authorities repeatedly admitted

"that they and their predecessors have consistently denied all members of the press face-to-face media access to any prisoner convicted of crimes committed during the April 1993 Lucasville riot . . . .6"

The Court ruled that face-to-face media access cannot be denied based upon the anticipated content of the interview, nor because of the possible impact on victims or their families. In mid-July 2017, the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction modified its media policies accordingly.7 This action for the first time opened up access to at least some of the surviving prisoner protagonists by newspaper, radio, and TV reporters.

If any reporter or journalist wants to move on this win in the courts, please read the rest of this article and contact us at insurgent.ben [at] gmail [dot] com and we will help you go about requesting interviews. 

Monday, September 10, 2018

Black August at OSP by Greg Curry

Greg Curry intended to make this statement at the recent pig roast solidarity event in Central Ohio, but was unable to connect with organizers at that time. Instead we're printing it here.


Today I'd like to give you a mental picture of how Ohio's supermax is set up so that the context of what follow will make sense. There is severely limited movement here its 4 blocks: A, B, C, D. A & B are on top of each other C & D are on the other side of the prison on top of each other. In each block there is 8 pods each of those pods hold up to 16 people. Each pod is isolated from the next so much so you may never see them even though its just a door/wall between y'all. Likewise, the blocks are even more cut off since its a floor between A & B then 1/2 a football field between the other side of the prison where C & D blocks are similarly set up. There is actually only one / two jobs per pod. This is the backdrop for which any organizing would take place within these walls.

However we do have successes, usually its some situation brought on by repressive cops armed with oppressive rules drawing a response that temporarily disrupt operations around here . For Black August one of my closest Comrades, Siddique Hasan is accused of organizing Statewide action against the orderly operations of prisons. In the process, this Comrade was placed in the hole, stripped of his personal property and his access to communicate is severely cut back.

Of course he continue to lead, to deeply care about justice for us all even as he fight for justice to keep the State from murdering him. Some of you know the prison rules was twisted up just to find that Hasan broke any rule. He did 3 weeks on hunger strike while many of you made calls demanding fairness.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Imam Hasan's serious misconduct panel documents

Conduct Report, July 27, 2018.
Hasan is said to have violated five prison rules:
“Rioting, or encouraging others to riot”;
“Engaging in or encouraging a group demonstration or work stoppage”;
“Conducting business operations with any person or entity, without permission”;
“Use of telephone or mail in furtherance of any criminal activity (encouraging disturbance/riot)”;
“Violation of other policy, specifically rules on receiving money from unapproved sources [and] by his own admission on July 15, 2018 Inmate Sanders is also acting as a leader and spokesperson.”

Disposition of the Rules Infraction Board [see note below], August 14, 2018.

  The “facts that explain the board’s decision” are said to be as follows:
            “The Serious Misconduct Panel believes that inmate Sanders R130559 did attempt to incite others to riot by misusing the DRC phone system referring to the 2016 prison strike/work stoppage and violent events that occurred in our nation’s prisons and jails to promote the 2018 prison strike/work stoppage that is suspected to occur on August 21, 2018 that will end on September 9, 2018.  Inmate Sanders stated on the DRC phone system that two years later, the decision has been that from August 21 to September 9, there is going to be another National Work Stoppage and it entails many more things than what happened in 2016.  We intend to put up stiff resistance.”
            A Supplemental page of the Disposition sets forth additional allegations concerning a supposed event not mentioned in the Conduct Report and as to which no evidence was offered at the hearing:  “the SMP believes that Sanders R130559 did misuse the JPay privilege by answering an anti-Aramark Food Service organizer’s JPay message to him.  The organizer asked inmate Sanders R130559 to recruit other inmates via JPay to stop Aramark from being used at the University of Cincinnati until they stopped feeding inmates incarcerated in Ohio.”
            The Serious Misconduct Panel recommended placement in ERH3 (reduction in level of privileges), and suspension of Hasan’s phone and JPay privileges for up to one year.

Notice of Disciplinary Appeal, August 22, 2018.

This document is entirely in Hasan’s handwriting and was mailed to the appropriate reviewing entity, the Division of Legal Services of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
The Disposition form and the Appeal form refer to the Rules Infraction Board, but the Conduct Report was heard by the Serious Misconduct Panel.
Two of the Supplemental Disposition pages were incomplete.  Hasan requested the missing words.  They were provided to him on a separate page.  He underlined the missing words.  Those words are reproduced within the vacant space below the incomplete sentences.