In 1989, Keith LaMar (aka Bomani Shakur) came to prison at age 19 for murder. He had been living in Cleveland, Ohio, where he sold drugs as a means of survival in the Crack-infested streets he knew as home. On a day that would forever change his life, LaMar was robbed at gunpoint and exchanged gunfire with his robbers. He was shot in his legs and hit one of the other men in the chest. That young man, once a childhood friend, died. LaMar plead guilty and was sent to prison for 17 years-to-life.
Six years later, while attempting to put together the broken pieces of his life, LaMar was once again ruled guilty, this time by an all-white jury in an all-white county in southern Ohio. To this day, LaMar maintains his innocence of crimes he was framed for by the State of Ohio, crimes he can prove he did not commit during the 1993 Lucasville Prison Uprising at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. In spite of his innocence, LaMar continues to be held indefinitely in solitary confinement, where he has spent the past two and a half decades in a steel cage no larger than a closet. In all this time, he has not been able to see or touch grass or feel the wind blow against his skin. For sixteen of those years, LaMar wasn't even allowed to touch a loved one until his 2011 hunger strike finally afforded him access to semi-contact visits (thick glass separation with just a small hole). It would be eighteen years in all until he could hug his mother again when full-contact visits were finally granted after yet another hunger strike was won. In spite of his grave suffering, LaMar continues to pour love and knowledge on loved ones and strangers alike, inspiring them to find ways to live their lives with purpose.
Keith LaMar’s is a story about racialized injustice, State corruption, struggle, perseverance and truth. He has laid it all out in Condemned, a soulful, fiery, and captivating book. In it, he traces how the prosecutors fabricated a case against him, then goes on to dismantle their lies by highlighting their inconsistencies. LaMar shows clearly how his Constitutional rights were violated by the State of Ohio's willful withholding of evidence favorable to his defense. Most importantly, he compels readers to consider their place within the larger social system, inviting those who would stand on the side of social justice to join him, not just on his behalf, but also for the countless nameless, faceless people caught up in the struggle for humanity.
A documentary film that focuses on the State’s intentional railroading of Keith LaMar was made available online October 2014. In just 36 short minutes, the issues about what happened in Keith LaMar's legal case are illuminated. The film can be viewed by following this link.