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Play about Lucasville prisoners cheered

Published Apr 25, 2008 9:07 PM

Family, supporters and those wanting to become informed gathered on the 15th anniversary of the 1983 rebellion in the prison in Lucasville, Ohio, to put on two performances of a play about the event. A cast of 20, ranging in age from 11 to 84, presented “Lucasville: The Untold Story of a Prison Uprising,” by Staughton Lynd, Gary Anderson and Christopher Fidram.

Graphic by Jason Robb

Included in the cast were two sisters and two nephews, aged 11 and 14, of Greg Curry, one of the prisoners wrongfully convicted following the siege. Also in the cast was Kevin Lowery, cousin of Keith LaMar (Bomani Shakur), who played Shakur. LaMar is one of the five prisoners given death sentences who are known as the Lucasville 5.

Before the play opened, Gwen Curry described the indignities her brother was forced to go through during his trial and the racist attitudes of the jury toward both him and the rest of his family. Greg Curry has been subjected to continuing abuse, such as contamination of his food with bodily waste matter.

Because of the intense legal pressure, the prison system has been forced to reclassify Curry to a status where he can have full contact visits. Tears rose in his sister’s eyes as she described with joy that for the first time in 15 years, his mother would be able to hug him.

Along with many other prisoners who either participated in the uprising or refused to give false testimony in the trials that followed, the Lucasville 5 have been in solitary confinement for the past 15 years. At the gatherings on April 11 and 12, participants paid tribute to all the prisoners with wrongful convictions and recognized their families for their strength and determination during this long period.

Many members of the LaMar family attended, as did the wife and stepdaughter of Siddique Abdullah Hasan, another one of the Lucasville 5. Also attending was the mother of Mosi O. Paki.

Paki has been held all this time without a trial. Instead he was punished with violations related to the uprising before the prison system’s Rules Infraction Board (RIB). Such violations are supposed to extend prison terms by up to 90 days maximum, but Paki has been held on these charges for 15 years.

One of the performances was held in a community center in a working-class community on Cleveland’s west side. Desktop computers were set up all around the back of the center so that during the intermission the audience members could sign the electronic petition for amnesty at www.acluohio.org in the Lucasville Justice Project.

A second performance was in a community center in a part of Cleveland’s east side that is primarily African-American. The building had been completely renovated by involving the young people of the community and teaching them construction and maintenance skills.

The cast’s passionate performance was matched by the audience’s enthusiasm on both nights, which included a standing ovation the second night. This enthusiasm showed that the campaign for the freedom of the Lucasville uprising prisoners has become a popular movement.