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Lucasville Riot: 20 Years Later


Three prisoners who were sentenced to death for their roles in the Lucasville prison riots are starting a hunger strike.
 
Twenty years ago on Easter Sunday in 1993, inmates took over the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility.
 
Corrections Officer Robert Vallandingham was strangled, and nine inmates, who were viewed as snitches, were beaten to death during the riots that destroyed a wing of the prison.
 
Now, three of the men known as the Lucasville five are protesting because they say the state refuses to let them tell the media their side of the story.more from nbc4
 
INTERVIEW: STAUGHTON LYND

The Lucasville prison revolt

February 3, 2012

Staughton Lynd was director of the Freedom Schools in Mississippi during Freedom Summer in 1964 and was fired from his faculty position at Yale University after making a peace trip to Hanoi during the Vietnam War. As an activist and labor lawyer, he later aided the struggle of steelworkers in Youngstown, Ohio, and he co-edited, with Alice Lynd, the classic oral history book Rank and File: Personal Histories by Rank-and-File Organizers.

He also authored the book Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising.(very good book, I’ve read and own)  In 2006, Lynd talked to Socialist Worker‘s Patrick Dyer about the story of the rebellion and the fight to win justice for the Lucasville Five.

snip
The triggering incident was that the warden decided to test for tuberculosis by injecting under the skin a substance that Muslim prisoners believed contained phenol, a form of alcohol. These prisoners said that their Sunni authorities in South Africa told them this wasn’t permissible.

The prison countered by saying that they had talked to various Muslims in Ohio, who said this was okay. To which the African Muslim entity responded in a very dignified message, saying, “Look, among Christians, you have Baptists, Episcopalians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, whatever–and you wouldn’t permit any one denomination to say what was appropriate for another. Within the Muslim faith, as well, there are different religious tendencies, and what someone tells you in Ohio is not necessarily what we here in South Africa believe to be the correct interpretation of the Koran.”

There was a kind of summit meeting between the warden and some of his associates, and leaders of the Muslim prisoners, who said that at other Ohio prisons, the testing for TB had been done in other ways. A deputy warden actually called in from vacation to tell the warden he thought it was a very bad idea to threaten the prisoners with forced injection in their cells, because if it was done in that way, what a given prisoner decided would be visible to all his colleagues in the same residential area.

But the warden let it be known that on April 12, the prison would be locked down. Every prisoner would be in his own cell, people would have bagged lunches instead of going to the chow hall, and the SWAT team and doctor would go from cell to cell, and inject, forcibly or otherwise, people who had thus far refused the injection.

Rather than permit that to occur, the Muslims decided to take over a portion of the prison–L block, or perhaps one pod or residential area within that block. According to the testimony of a Muslim who became a prosecution witness, the idea was to create just enough of a disturbance that the authorities in Columbus would get wind of it and might be motivated to overrule the warden as to how the testing for TB should be done.
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