The Lucasville Uprising was a rebellion against oppressive and racist policies at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, OH. Nine inmates and one guard died during the uprising in April of 1993. Today, many people are serving time or condemned to death by the state of Ohio in relation to the uprising. We demand amnesty for all of these inmates. The conditions at SOCF were (and still are) intolerable and unconscionable.
My name is Keith Lamar calling from the Ohio State Penitentiary in
Phone God: This call is originating from an Ohio correctional
How ya doin'?
Oh man, we're working hard, ya know?
I'm looking at- let me say- I'm looking at this poster you sent me.
And its just regardless of how they've tried to stifle this man over
these years, his heart still beats hope, and it came through it. Try
as they might, they haven't been able to. This recent move to try to
silence him will also fail because the truth will prevail in the end.
I think that's what happening, you know, all around the country.
Even the ugly truth about how those who own society really feel about
black people. People seem to be shocked at these recent shootings,
even though it's an ongoing thing, not an isolated incident, as they
try to portray it. It's a thing, you know, a policy.
Yeah I think it's really connecting your story too. These are voices
from inside that are trying to be heard and the Fraternal Order of
Police and the mainstream media really want to suppress what's
important to the people who are being oppressed and victimized by
mass incarceration. Mumia is part of that flow, as are you.
Mass incarceration is just an extention of capitalism, you know,
they just came to the point with de-industrailization, they came to
the point where they don't need as many people, so a lot of people,
superfluous people that we no longer need are just fluff, are foam,
so they just trying to fluff us off and shun us off into these
prisons, supermax solitary cells. And it turns out that's not
economically feasible to continue to go down this path, so they come
up with all the different alternatives. Every alternative but to
treat people like human beings. That doesn't seem to be an option for
them. To come up with a more equitable economic distribution, that
don't even seem to be on the table. We're so far from that
discussion, it's just-- you know, and people don't make the
connection, or the leap seems to be too far for people to connect
this with slavery. But this whole thing, even after the end of
slavery they didn't know what to do. Now we got all these black
people, what are we gonna do with them?
It's in the 13th Amendment.
The culture in this country has never dealt with the issues that it
was based on, how it was founded, how its wealth was created. And
there have been no reparations. There have been no significant-- and
at every opportunity they try to legislate to take away people's
rights to participate in democracy, whether by warehousing them or
taking away their right to vote. So it's disenfranchisement based on
And if you follow the history of it, you know, Jim Crow,
reconstruction, all the way up to present day, you know, you see thevarious
means by which they try to keep the old system intact, they just call
them different names but its's the same thing just modernized. You
know, slavery and that whole thing was just about-- when they brought
these people, when they brought my ancestors over here, they spread
the rumor, 'don't feel bad for these people because they're not
really human beings.' In fact, the Supreme Court, in Dred Scott,
ruled similarly. This is the same court that the law of the land
rests with. This is the same court from whom I'm expecting mercy and
justice tomorrow at my oral arguments. And so it's just, it's
incredibly frustrating and I think that don't even come close to
describing how I feel. It's not hatred and it's not just anger.
There's more to it than that. You get the sense, you start reading
and learning, you get the sense that you could have done more with
your life. Just so a few people, the wealthiest, 1%, 10%, 20%,
whatever the number is today, so they can have more than what they
need to live. It's just incredible. It's not just about what's going
on in this country, it's about what's going on around the world; it's
this same formula, thankfully more and more people seem to be waking
up. I just hope that that process continues.
Tell me about the situation that you're facing tomorrow. What are
the elements of the case that you need them to hear? And what is the
The main issue is that they violated my constitutional rights by not
turning over favorable evidence, exculpatory evidence as they call
it. And I have the actual statements of the perpetrators--
Phone God: 60 seconds left on this call.
...who came forward and admitted to killing someone. This is prior
to me being indicted, prior to me being a suspect. He came forward
and said, 'Hey I killed this guy.' And they indicted another guy who
was a part of the Aryan Brotherhood. This other guy I just mentioned,
he was a part of another gang who was thought to have presidedover
the riots, the Black Gangster Disciples. And so it's interesting
that they indicted people from these two organizations who admitted
to presiding over the riot, and yet after the fact it was just too
many diversions, so they just tried to lay it all with me and hide
this evidence because they thought I was going to plead guilty and
not go forward with a trial. And so when I did go forward and
insisted on a trial, they hid this evidence. It took 20 years for it
to come out.
Phone God: ...from an Ohio correctional institution and may be
recorded or monitored.
There are alternatives to Mcdonald's. There are alternatives to
this system. I mean the main thing that I've been trying to do is
use my story. I'm working on my autobiography right now. I'm trying
to use my story to impact the lives of young people, particularly
young black men who are involved in the criminal justice system,
juvenile detention homes and whatnot. I had the opportunity, the
privilege, I should say, a few months ago, to call in and share my
book with a group of juvenile delinquents at the juvenile justice
center in Cleveland, which is where I was when I was 13 years old. I
was there when I was 13 years old and it was through reading that i
was able to come into a better understanding of myself and this
society that we live in. So I wanted to get books into these young
people to hopefully try to affect some kind of crucial change at the
fundamental, just on a minimal level so they can get some kind of
sense on- you know, because what really has to happen- the trick
about capitalism, the lie about capitalism is that the American Dream
is available for everybody, and we all believe that, we're all taught
that. And so we only think there's only one way to live, there's
only one measure of success: You've either got to have this car,
these clothes, this house, and this job, or whatever the case may be
in order to have happiness. You know, this is the dream. We never
take time to think about what a dream is. All of us dream, every
day, every night and we wake up and go on with our lives, our real
lives. And so that's what I'm trying to get young people to do: wake
up and go live their real
life. And that might not be the same as everyone else. In fact, I
know it's different. So I'm just trying to do that because that's
what-- you know, I really don't think its a matter of us changing the
system, but changing the way we view our lives as individuals because
we think we have to prevail on these people, and really it's just
like McDonald's: we're trying to get them to change they menu to
more healthy. All we really have to do is stop going to McDonald's
and create an alternative.
Phone God: ...from an Ohio correctional institution and may be
recorded or monitored.
There are alternatives to McDonald's. There are alternatives to
this system. It's like Las Vegas, you know, it's not set up for you
to win. You can understand that you're gambling every time you step
out there trying to find an easy way. There's no easy way. It's just
a lot of traps and those traps are easy to get into and hard to get
Yeah, really hard. Tell me some of them.
Well, you know, they fall into this whole--you know, I think, I've
been using the word 'addiction.' I think a lot of us are addicted
to this dream. And I think these people, eduction, that whole
process is about: to hook us on this whole thing. Because it wasn't
until I was 19 years old that I got my first hit of the capitalism,
so to speak. You know, I started hustling, started trying to be
enterprising. Which there's nothing wrong with that, you know.
Working them regular jobs I couldn't afford a polo shirt. I had to
work all month shoveling snow, cutting grass, just to get one shirt.
It's easier just to learn how to steal these shirts, you know what I
mean? But once you become a cirminal, you know James Baldwin said,
"in the private chambers of the soul the guilty party is
identified and the accusing finger there is not a fantasy, but the
truth." He said, "Men must pay for what they do; not for
who they are, but for what they allow themselves to become." So
when you become a criminal, when you become the bad guy int he movie,
you can't be surprised later on if you learn that they having you
dying down the elevator shaft, or they have you dying in the electric
chair, or they have you dying in the shooting squad or something like
that. You gotta read the whole thing and the small print to
understand what's in store for you. You know, so you gotta make
informed decisions. If, after learning about all the realities of
the situation, you then decide to become a criminal, that's a totally
different matter. But a lot of these young people are being lured
into ways of looking at the world, ways of thinking about life, and
that is what I'm referring to as the trap. You know what I mean?
They trapped. Even right now, you can see you on death row, or you in
prison for the rest of your life and you're still pursuing this
faulty thing above and beyond what life is really about. And that's
the problem of it, you know, in my opinion. Well not in my opinion,
but based on everything I've read. This stuff I'm talking about is,
you know, real life stuff.
Why do they want to kill you?
Well, you know I think part of the reason is because I stood up in a
way that is threatening in this system that we live under. And I
just stood up to them not really understanding, it was an instictive
thing. They wanted me to cop out to something that I didn't do and
forfeit the rest of my life, as if my life didn't mean nothing.
Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, I had
came into the awareness that my life had meant something and I wasn't
just going to sacrifice it, give it up for nothing. I was angry about
it, you know, and i told them no. And that's been my attitude ever
since. I know I'm not supposed to use that language, but I'm just
talking to you, you know, person-to-person. That's basically what it
had came to. I had came to the conclusion, you know, that I wasn't
taking any more bills, i wasn't selling my soul anymore, I'm done
with that. I don't think they were prepared for me to go forward and
demand a trial, but I did and when I did that they was caught
unawares and they tried to hurry up and hide they evidence, you know.
They didn't turn over their evidence. This whole system is a sham,
it really is. You know, its like I requested to see the wizard, and
found out there was nobody back there, it was just these people
pulling these little levers and stuff.
It's all, it's all-- and then that's the thing about people, you
know, I'm on death row so there's always the possiblility that I
might be executed. You know, I'm fighting as hard as I possibly can,
I really am. And I've got a lot of my friends and family who are
fighting just as hard, but I'm saying, "For what?" To
continue to be a part of this world. So that's the reason I'm trying
to be a part, not just to save my life, but to be a part of that
process of change, trying to get people to change, because I'm
fighting so hard to be a part of this life, to be a part of this
world, but I don't really like this world the way as it is right now.
You understand what I'm saying? So it's like, "What am I
doing?" And so in order for me to continue to fight for my life
I have to try to incorporate myself into larger things. Otherwise,
what the hell am I doing? So that's what I've been trying to do with
my story, trying to incorporate into that larger process of change,
you know, because if you're going to be alive, you want to be alive
in a world that's worth being alive in.
Yeah, you gotta take care to breath deep with all this stuff, it
take your breath away, don't it? It just really do sitting here
thinking about it, just talking about it. It just brings it all to
the front of your brain and its just too hard and you gotta [sigh].
You know, it's funny, they make you pay a price every time you stand
up for yourself. So that's how I feel about it, that every time we
stand up on the outside we have organizations. They're not wanting us
to do the work or the job of being journalist, they're wanting to
shut us down. So every time we stand up and work to bring these
voices out they're swinging. They're swinging hard nd they're telling
you you're going to pay a price. Same with you: if you swing hard,
tell your words, you're going to pay the price.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, and you gotta be willing to pay that price once
you come into the awareness that life, as they say in the Bible, for
those who are religious, 'what profits a man who gains the world but
loses his soul' and we have to understand, no matter what your
religion or affiliation, that there's a part of you that if you sell
it, if you tamper with it just a little bit, you remove all the
meaning from your life.
So they're asking us, they're not giving us, there's no deal out
here. Like you're facing execution, we're facing no real life for
the people that we care most about.
Phone God: You have 60 seconds left on this call.
If that's the case, if I'm gonna die anyway, which we all are, then
why not do something righteous with your life? Why not give up your
life for soembody else's? My name is Keith Lamar. I'm calling from
the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown, Ohio.
commentaries are recorded by Noel Hanrahan of Prison Radio