Vast Tapestry of Lies
By Bomani Shakur (AKA Keith LaMar), Prisonersolidarity.org
March 3, 2007
April 11, 2007, a somber scene will unfold at the Southern Ohio
Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville. For the past fourteen
years, April 11 has commemorated the brutal prison uprising (1993)
that claimed the lives of nine inmates and one correctional officer.
Family, friends, and associates of the slain officer will come together.
Prayers will be said, promises of renewal will be made, and memories
(both good and bad) will be recounted to remind those present never
to forget the past. And then a collective cry for revenge will be
uttered against five men - prisoners, who, the audience will be
told, are responsible for the tragic events that took the life of
their friend and colleague, Officer Robert Vallandingham. I am one
of those five men.
name is Keith LaMar (AKA Bomani Shakur), and for the past fourteen
years I have been languishing in solitary confinement, waiting to
be killed. On or about April 11, 2007, my family, friends and associates
will come together to speak out against the injustice that has been
perpetrated by the state. Prayers will be said, promises of redemption
will be said, and memories (mostly bad) will be recounted to remind
those present never to give up the fight. And then a collective
cry for justice will be uttered.
there are two sides to every story, and unless both sides are equally
heard and evaluated the truth cannot (will not) be known. Unfortunately,
the truth in this matter has taken a backseat to politics, and what
is being portrayed is a fully fabricated version of the facts. Harold
Pinter, in his Nobel acceptance speech, spoke directly to this twisted
sense of justice when he said: "The majority of politicians,
on the evidence available to us, are interested not in truth but
in power... To maintain that power it is essential that people remain
in ignorance of the truth, even the truth of their own lives. What
surrounds us therefore is a vast tapestry of lies, upon which we
happened at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in 1993 was
premeditated and designed, not by Muslim inmates, as is commonly
supposed, but by public officials who needed justification to build
a new ($60 million) supermax prison. In truth, the only reason the
body count didn't rise to the level of a massacre is because Muslim
and Aryan Brotherhood prisoners, working together, stopped it from
escalating. And for their efforts they were put on death row. Likewise,
when I refused to cooperate and campaigned for other prisoners to
follow suit, I was singled out and prosecuted.
years have come and gone, and with the passing of time the truth
has emerged to paint a different picture than what was initially
proffered. Prosecutors hid evidence, witnesses were threatened and
bribed in some cases, admitted murderers were released on parole.
Some of those "witnesses" are now talking, and what they
have to say is being heard in a very meaningful way. In the meantime,
five men are slated to be executed and need you, the public, to
stand with us and demand justice.
it or not, many of us knew Officer Vallandingham and believe that
he didn't deserve to die. He was a decent man. Unfortunately, he
came to work on a day that those in power decided to release the
hounds. And the tragic thing about his death is that it wasn't personal;
it could have happened to any of us. We were all used as pawns.
As such, Officer Vallandingham will be acknowledged and prayers
for his wife and children will be said, as they have been for the
past fourteen years.
an officer is killed, it's easy to get lured into an "us against
them" mentality, especially when those who are being accused
are already viewed as "criminals." By definition, a criminal
is someone that commits a crime against society, and so it's only
natural that those in society would band together and, when called
upon, move to enforce the harshest penalty available. And for many
the harshest penalty is capital punishment. The fact that those
sentenced to death stand to lose their lives is ... well, it doesn't
get any harsher than that. Or does it? I'm here to tell you that
it does. For the past fourteen years, we (the so-called Lucasville
Five) have been tortured.
Set apart from other death-row prisoners, we have been kept in almost
total isolation, and everything imaginable has been done to make
us "pay" for Officer Vallandingham's death. And yet, we
have continued in our quest to find and reveal the truth. Our only
request is that you hear it.
most insidious thing about a lie, particularly a lie this vast,
is that the longer the lie is told the more it is believed and the
harder it becomes to overcome it. And sometimes a lie is a lie,
but because the truth isn't known, it's easier to pretend that the
people are more knowledgeable than they actually are. At one point,
the whole world was said to be flat, not because this was actually
so, but because those doing the pondering couldn't (and wouldn't)
see it any other way. Consequently, a whole curriculum was built
around a fundamental misrepresentation of facts: a lie. Luckily,
there existed others who were more interested in truth than in power
and prestige; because of them, the word is more accurately known
and questions about our existence can be more accurately posed.
his book, Lucasville:
The Untold Story of a prison uprising, Staughton Lynd set out
to discover the truth about what actually took place and, along
with recent revelations, has pieced together a more accurate picture.
The facts speak for themselves. As such, we are not asking you to
believe us over them; we're asking you to believe the truth over
a fundamental misrepresentation of facts.
I write this, I'm sitting inside the new ($60 million) supermax
prison. The hot water doesn't work, plaster is falling off the walls...
And four men are waiting to be executed.
The fifth member of the Lucasville Five, George Skatzes, is housed
in Mansfield, Ohio.
Bomani Shakur, # R 317-117
(AKA Keith LaMar)
Youngstown, OH 44501
Shakur (a.k.a. Keith LaMar) was sentenced to death for his alleged
leadership role in the brutal prison uprising of 1993, which occurred
at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville,
Ohio. In his recently self-published book, Condemned, Bomani (which
means "mighty soldier" in Swahili) argues for a general
amnesty for all Lucasville prisoners,drawing from the outcome of
the prison uprising at Attica during the 1970s as his model. "What
happened there also happened at Lucasville," Bomani said during
a 2006 interview with Prisonersolidarity,
"and I believe the governor should take a 'serious look' at
the similarities and proceed accordingly." Bomani Shakur is
currently on death row at Ohio's super-maximum security prison in
Youngstown, and is appealing his sentence. For more information
about his case, read Staughton Lynd's book, Lucasville:
The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising. (Temple University Press,
writing to Bomani, please send him a pre-embossed stamped envelope
so that he can promptly answer your letter. He is not permitted
adhesive stamps, that is, regular stamps.