One week ago, Redbird Prison Abolition and Insurgent Theatre hosted yet another Solidarity Showcase at Kafe Kerouac, here in Columbus. A bunch of people turned out, including some moms and longtime prison abolitionists, as well as friends and showcase regulars. Two special occurrences marked this showcase as particularly resonant for me: one, Insurgent Theatre's Columbus debut of their new play, AD SEG, and two, a live phone call from Siddique Abdullah Hasan, who currently sits on death row in the Ohio State Penitentiary for a crime he did not commit.
This Solidarity Showcase was to raise funds (made $226 with Insurgent Theatre's matching donation) and awareness for those railroaded and placed on death row following the Lucasville Uprising. Five men from the Lucasville Southern Ohio Correctional Facility,
Namir Abdul Mateen (James Were), Siddique Abdullah Hasan (Carlos Sanders), Bomani Shakur (Keith Lamar), Jason Robb and George Skatzes, were targeted post-uprising as being leaders of the prison riot that killed 9 prisoners and 1 guard. The riot was preciptated by deplorable living conditions for inmates, including a general environment of snitch and race-baiting, not to mention outright abuse, by guards. The Lucasville five were targeted due to their role in peacefully negotiating an end to the riot, securing the demands of the prisoners for better conditions (and also securing freedom from retribution for themselves for their roles as negotiators, on which the state obviously backpeddled).
Siddique called from OSP and gave us his history of the riot, the conditions that led to it, and the consequences he has suffered from it, including more than 16 years in solitary confinement, with no physical human contact other than his guards. For more in depth history on the Lucasville Uprising, you can read the text to the zine we wrote here.
Siddique's call was followed by performances by Ben B playing a bike pump, Mattie reading a poem, Sam reading a short story about kids & death, & Connie, who did a "Legal Q&A." (And Bad Heart Bull opened the show with some songs about smashing prisons.)
The night ended with Insurgent Theatre's performance of AD SEG, followed by a great discussion about prison abolition, alternatives to prisons, and what we can do to further diminish the role of law enforcement & the legal system in our lives. After taking this show on the road for 10 days, it was great to perform it at home in Columbus. It was also good to start a more in depth conversation about prison abolition with our friends & family in Columbus, and to hear their thoughts and concerns on the topic.