Soapbox hosts Screening of “Condemned”

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keithhighscansKeith LaMar has been on death row for 20 years. He spends 23 hours a day in solitary confinement and has little contact with the world outside his cell. He is facing capital punishment for a crime he did not commit. LaMar is among the 5 prisoners sentenced to death after the Lucasville prison uprising in 1993, one of the largest prison rebellions in history. Like the other 5 prisoners, LaMar’s refusal to cooperate with state prosecutors and correctional officials, whose actions prior to the uprising escalated tension to the breaking point, led him to be singled out, given an unfair trial and convicted on unsupported witness testimony.

On Monday, “Condemned,” a film about LaMar’s case, was screened at Soapbox Books & Zines, a lending library in Northside. The documentary made by local filmmaker Barbara Wolf examines the flimsy evidence against LaMar and exposes an array of misconduct before, during and after his trial. For example, LaMar was convicted of a murder during the uprising that another person admitted to in earlier testimony. The state swept the admission under the rug in return for that individual’s cooperation. In another instance, a witness first testified that he didn’t know who LaMar was and that LaMar wasn’t active in the uprising, then later testified that he saw LaMar leading an apparent death squad that killed 5 inmates. The defense were never provided with any information about the dubious testimonies, a violation of LaMar’s constitutional rights.

LaMar’s is now in limbo. In November, a hearing of oral arguments was held in the 6th district court in Cincinnati to determine whether Keith will get a new trial in light of all the misconduct 20 years ago. By all accounts, the hearing went well, but LaMar was barred from attending to defend himself, the latest in decades of injustice. It may be as late as spring 2016 before a ruling is made. The hope is that LaMar’s original conviction will be thrown out, and the state will not attempt to retry allowing him to finally walk free.

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Uses and Users in The Gated District

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Written as the final to a urban sustainability class I took in my spare time this fall. I republished it with slight modifications here.

It’s not just us keeping them apart. It’s everyone in Besźel and everyone in UI Qoma. Every minute, every day. We’re only the last ditch: it’s everyone in the cities who does most of the work. It works because you don’t blink.-China Mieville, The City & The City.

The buildings, parking lots and alleys in the northern half of the block between Cincinnati’s Republic and Vine, 12th and 13th streets, offer a unique perspective to look into issues of race, class and the way that we understand and talk about history in a changing urban environment. It’s not an uncommon block in the neighborhood, Over-the-Rhine (OTR): on the Vine street side, a row of three and four story buildings with storefronts below and housing above sit adorned with the vestiges of their Italianate style. On the Republic side, a single housing development is all that’s left of what were probably similar buildings all constructed in the late 1800’s.

This is the heart of the Gateway Quarter, the ideological entry point into a revitalizing OTR. This is OTR with all its romantic heritage of german, beer loving, culture. On the corner of Vine and 13th, the Lackman, named after the brewer who paid for the building over 120 years ago sits with its big open doors welcoming crowds into the cramped bar. Lackman’s operation would be sold to Hudepohl, a mainstay of Cincinnati brewing history, in the 1930’s, but today the bar harkens back to the turn of the 20th century, even using the old winged-L logo.

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The Struggle Against Racism Continues

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A meeting will occur on Thursday December 18th, at Christ Emmanuel Christian Fellowship, 2324 May St. in Mt Auburn at 6:00 PM, unfortunately too late for readers of streetvibes. And a teach-in organized by local activists on Saturday, December 20th, in the Main  Library Room 3A at 11:00AM.

On Saturday tens–maybe hundreds–of thousands demonstrated across the United States in the National Day of Resistance against the racist police state. The protests were only the latest in a movement that has been steadily growing since 17 year old Mike Brown was killed by police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, just outside St. Louis, this August. Courageous residents of Ferguson have taken to the streets almost every day, standing up to heavy policing in their neighborhood to fight against systemic racism which is embedded in the core of our society. When Wilson was let off without an indictment in November, and just a week later, when the New York police officer who killed Eric Garner in a chokehold wasn’t indicted either, regular protests have occurred in every major city in the country. Some have called this a new civil rights movement, while others have gone even further, suggesting these actions are revolutionary in nature.

Locally, a grassroots group of organizers, loosely organized as part of the Black Lives Matter campaign, called a solidarity protest, at least the 4th action since the night after the Mike Brown decision. Cincinnati and Ohio’s place in this movement is incredibly complicated–13 years ago, when Timothy Thomas was killed by Officer Roach, angry protesters took to the streets for a week in the largest uprising since the Rodney King uprising in LA in 1992. The protests came after 15 black men had been killed by police over the course of the previous several years. Though the police and city claim to have made changes, these are aesthetic only–today, some 3 or 4 blacks are killed each year by cops locally, and the feverish public relations work of the powerful institutions tends to be effective in sleepy Cincinnati. But a new movement forming as part of the national cause hopefully points in a new direction in the fight for liberation.

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Politics Minus Zero/No limit: Electoral strategy when it doesn’t matter.

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By Ben Stockwell and Mark Grauhuis with help from Kyle Galindez and Mark Lause.

Democratic candidate For Ohio Governor Ed Fitzgerald trails incumbent Republican John Kasich by some 20% in the latest poll. This gap has widened over the course of the last year and shows no signs of reversing, especially not in the month before election day. Kasich is going to win this year.

Building a strong, radical movement from below is the only way to force the system to meet the needs and desires of the people. More and more, it’s becoming clear that this system may not even be able to meet our basic demands at all.

This is an appeal to Democratic voters to vote for the Green party candidate, Anita Rios, instead of Fitzgerald.

In 2012, a UC professor hosted a dinner party with members of Occupy Cincinnati and others in the professor’s union. Every half hour or so, the guests would converge in the same room to talk about what Occupy meant and how it might be active in the future. In one session the debate took a turn toward the coming presidential election. While admitting the limitations of, and even their utter disappointment with, the Democratic party, people in the room made it clear that a Republican presidency would be much worse. “This year,” one professor insisted, “it is a zero sum game.”

This is the refrain every year. The Biden thesis – “we’re not as totally bad as the alternative” – is admittedly seductive in the face of the waking nightmare of what’s to come (Hillary, Portman, Kasich, Ron Paul, etc.). Democrats in Ohio are consequently positioning this year’s election as a referendum on Kasich and other Republican policies like SB5, but Fitzgerald’s electability has been reduced to near-zero by a number of scandals involving himself and his running mates. Still, the meme “remember in November” is circulated ad nauseum among Ohio liberals: remember all the terrible things Kasich has done or tried to do when you enter the voting booth.” This is passive, cynical, negative politics at it worse, which begs the question “When do we get to vote for what we want?” — This year, certainly.

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This year, Fitzgerald is the throw away vote.

Sure, we can remember what Kasich did and does, but voting for the Fitzgerald is not the proper response to that memory. We must keep in mind not only what Kasich did, but the realities of what voting for Fitzgerald will do or not do. Putting aside whether or not Fitzgerald offers an actual alternative to Kasich or could support resistance to a system bent on austerity (i.e. making us pay for a system in crisis), if the question is simply about expressing dissatisfaction, there is a non-Republican vote that is much more effective in the long term.

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