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Sunday, 16 January 2011

A great victory for the lucasville hungerstrike

by Denis O’Hearn

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

Letter from Keith LaMar (Bomani Shakur) to Warden Bobby of Ohio State Penitentiary

by Keith LaMar

Bomani Shakur
Jan. 3 – I’m writing to inform you that I am henceforth
on a hunger strike. After 12 years of what can only be described as a
double penalty, I am respectfully requesting that you cease this
tortuous predicament that I am in. As a death-sentenced prisoner, I
should be allowed the very same privileges as other similarly sentenced
prisoners, and this is all I am asking, nothing more or less. Therefore,
in spite of what your personal feelings are, I hereby appeal to your
sense of professionalism and ask that you seriously consider the
following demands:
Full recreation privileges.
Full commissary privileges.
Full access to Access SecurePac catalog.
Semi-contact visits.
Access to computer database so that I can assist in the furtherance of my appeals.

These things are presently being offered to all death-sentenced
prisoners and, again, I hereby respectfully request that I be granted
the same. As you know, my appeals are fast approaching resolution,
moving me closer and closer to a day of reckoning. Please allow me the
opportunity to pursue whatever my end will be with the same level of
dignity and respect that other similarly situated prisoners enjoy. You
have this within your power to permit, and I ask that instead of abusing
your power that you use it justly, and soon.

Bomani Shakur can be reached by writing to Keith LaMar, 317-117,
P.O. Box 1436, Youngstown OH 44501. Addresses for the other Lucasville
prisoners are:

Jason Robb, 308-919, P.O. Box 1436, Youngstown OH 44501
Siddique Abdullah Hasan, R 130-559, P.O. Box 1436, Youngstown OH 44501
James Were, 173-245, P.O. Box 1436, Youngstown OH 44501; refer to him by his preferred name, Namir Abdul Mateen.

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