And White And Dead All Over: The Lucasville Insurrection
In April 1993, an inmate rebellion broke out at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility (SOCF) in Lucasville, Ohio, near Cincinnati. Nine prisoners and one correctional officer were killed during the 11-day uprising.
In court proceedings following the end of the riot, five inmates were sentenced to death and are presently on death row at Mansfield Correctional Institution. They are: Siddique Abdullah Hasan (formerly known as Carlos Sanders), Namir Abdul Mateen (formerly known as James Were), Keith Lamar, Jason Robb, and George Skatzes. Hasan, Mateen, and Lamar are black. Hasan and Mateen are Sunni Muslims. Robb and Skatzes are white and are members of the Aryan Brotherhood.
The composition of L block as of April 11, 1993, was 429 black inmates and 327 white inmates (Blackmon trial transcript, p. 201). About half of these L block residents withdrew from the rebellion as it began, by going out into the yard and from there to K block.
According to Special Prosecutor Hogan, the vast majority of the 407 inmates who surrendered at the end of the disturbances did not belong to any organized group. However, he also claimed that three organizations "ran the show" during what he called "this riot." (Skatzes trial transcript, pp. 1529, 1553)
The largest organized group were Sunni Muslims. Hogan said that there were about fifty to seventy Muslims at the beginning of the riot, and that their numbers grew as it went on.
The "second most powerful group," according to Hogan, was the Aryan Brotherhood (AB). They numbered about twenty at the beginning of the riot. During the riot they controlled cell block L-2, and many white inmates who were not members of the AB were permitted to stay there, also.
Finally, a third group that in Hogan's words "had some control" was the Black Gangster Disciples (BGD). They numbered eight to twelve on April 11, 1993. (Skatzes trial transcript, pp. 1529-1530)
The Muslims and BGD were all-black. The AB was all- white. Prosecutor Hogan told the jury that all of the inmates killed on the first day of the riot "were white" and that a "paranoia began that lasted for a number of days." (Skatzes trial transcript, pp. 1501, 1550-1552)
Paul Mulryan's Account
Inmate Paul Mulryan has published a detailed account of the first hours of the uprising that is consistent with Prosecutor Hogan's remarks, and with the testimony of guards and inmates. Mulryan writes: "My first thought was that there must be a racial war. . . . Down the range I could see several teams of masked convicts converging on the block. . . . Then I saw both black and white skin showing through their masks. I was relieved." A little later, Mulryan recalls, "two Masks" announced: "Lucasville is ours! This is not racial, not racial. It's us against the administration! We're tired of these people fucking us over. Is everybody with us? Let's hear ya!" According to Mulryan: "Hundreds of fists shot into the air as the prisoners roared their approval." The convicts rigged up a public address system using a tape player and two large speakers taken from the rec department. They set these up near the windows facing the large media camp in front of the SOCF. Mulryan says that the following tape recording was played over and over:
Black and White Together
The banners and graffiti displayed in the occupied cell blocks expressed both racial separation and racial cooperation.
Sergeant Howard Hudson of the Ohio State Highway Patrol testified in Skatzes' trial about the insignia found in the occupied cell blocks after the surrender. They included:
Sergeant Hudson also identified a photograph of the L corridor. This testimony followed:
The prosecutor returned to the slogans in L corridor and the gymnasium, as if to make sure that the jury had taken notice.
What George Skatzes Says
George Skatzes joined the Lucasville Aryan Brotherhood in about January 1993, three months before the uprising. Skatzes joined because he perceived whites to be a minority at Lucasville: a majority of the inmates were black, the warden and deputy warden were black, and the head of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction was black. For Skatzes, joining the AB was a way to carry out his philosophy of, "You respect me and I will respect you."
Skatzes says he had no advance knowledge of the uprising. When the insurgent inmates opened the cells in the L blocks, George was able to leave his own cell, L-6-58. "I didn't know what it was all about," he says.
George received a message asking him to go out on the yard. Skatzes went out on the yard, but then returned to the occupied cell blocks. Why did you go back?, we asked George. Because I had friends in there, he answered. In his words, The place was blowing up and "I had people I was concerned about."
At some point on this first day George saw a black inmate (Cecil Allen) talking through a bull horn to a small crowd of other prisoners. George went up to listen. To his surprise the man on the bull horn pointed to George and said, "There's nobody going to be talking to you guys but me or this man right here," meaning George Skatzes.
A little later the man with the bull horn approached George together with Hasan (Carlos Sanders). Skatzes did not know Hasan, or that he was Imam of the Muslims. Hasan said to Skatzes, "We've got to get this under control."
Finally, a third black man came up to George. He said that white guys were congregating in the gym and the blacks were paranoid. He asked George to go to the gym and calm things down.
We asked George, Why did these three black men--the man with the bull horn, Hasan, the third man--ask you for help? Weren't you a member of the Aryan Brotherhood?
Skatzes answered that he did not want to make much of himself, but "I had a lot of respect." He told us of incidents before the uprising when white and black inmates had asked his help in settling disputes. One of these incidents involved the man who asked him to go to the gym.
So Skatzes did as he was asked and went to the gym. He went up to the group of black inmates and said, "This ain't no time for you to call me a honky, or me to call you a nigger." Then he approached the whites, who were sitting in the bleachers. Putting his arm around a black inmate, George said, "If the guards come in here they're going to shoot us all, no matter what color we are." We asked George who that black man was. He said, I don't know; I had never met him before.
On April 15 when George spoke on the radio his words were recorded by the authorities and a transcript was introduced as Exhibit 309A at his trial. He stated in part: "We are oppressed people, we have come together as one. We are brothers. . . . We are a unit here, they try to make this a racial issue. It is not a racial issue. Black and white alike have joined hands in SOCF and become one strong unit."
A Tentative Conclusion
When people learn that Jason Robb and George Skatzes were members of the Aryan Brotherhood (AB), they may feel that they want nothing to do with the defense of the Lucasville Five. We urge you to reconsider any such inclination.
It is our tentative but carefully-considered conclusion, that Jason Robb and George Skatzes were targeted by the prosecution BECAUSE they made common cause with black inmates during the uprising, and presented themselves to the authorities as spokespersons and negotiators for both races. We propose that the authorities want to kill them because they committed an unforgiveable sin in white America: they stood up together with a group of blacks in a life-and-death situation.
from RACE TRAITOR #8, Winter 1998