On April 21st at 3pm, a small crowd of 18 people gathered across the highway from the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOFC) in Lucasville, Ohio. The action was organized by Central Ohio Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC). Folks from Columbus, Athens, and Cincinnati were also in attendance.
The action took place to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the 1993 prison riot. On Easter Sunday of that year, 450 inmates rioted. As negotiations between officials and inmates began, other inmates joined in on the rioting. Toilets were smashed, electricity was cut off – a total of 40 million dollars of damage incurred. 10 people were killed: 9 inmates and one prison guard. Their demands most predominately addressed issues of overcrowding and abusive treatment. The riot lasted a total of 10 days, ending on April 21st, 1993.
From the IWOC’s event description:
“The Lucasville Uprising began on April 11 and ended on April 21st, 1993. We are hosting a solidarity rally at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) for prisoners that took a stand against intolerable prison conditions. We will demand amnesty for Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan, Greg Curry and others who were persecuted because of their alleged roles during the rebellion. We will also protest ongoing human rights abuses at SOCF.”
During the demonstration, folks driving down State Route 728 were able to see our many signs and banners, among them read: “Convict Unity Will End Prison Slavery,” “All My Heroes Kill Cops,” and “Fire to the Prisons.” Some honked in solidarity, while others drove real slow and attempted to record us on their phones. We attempted to make as much noise as possible and even caught outgoing guards on their shift-change. What went down at the actual event is not as important as reporting on what’s going on inside SOFC.
The SOCF is Ohio’s only maximum security prison and it operates in the comfort of relative isolation in rural Lucasville. We ask that people remember that within the prison gates, there is an unjust system at work that thrives on the silence of people on the outside. There are people on death row, some of whom are wrongly convicted. There are people held in solitary confinement, often for indeterminate periods of time. There are people who jump through hoops to see their loved ones, only to see them on a video screen or hear them through the phone receiver. Visitation, food, recreation time, and other privileges deserve to be fought for because they are no small deal when incarcerated.
SOCF is not unique. Prisons function to isolate and strip the humanity from those subjected to a sinister legal system in the name of “rehabilitation.” So long as prisons exist, and so long as people remain complacent towards them, more people will continue to live out their lives in isolation. It’s time to demand true restorative justice within our own communities – don’t call the cops and fight for the rights of those inside.
The rally outside of Lucasville was part of a series of actions and events to commemorate the Lucasville Prison Uprising. As the anniversary neared, the prisons took steps to also silence Lucasville survivors from speaking to supporters and the media. In response, Lucasville survivors launched a hunger strike and supporters have started a call-in campaign. For info on how to support the hunger strike and make calls, go here.
For background on the Lucasville Prison Uprising, read, Race Treason Behind Prison Walls.