Father’s Day, Health Update, Interview with Selma James, and Albert Woodfox

June 2015 Newsletter

Greetings Maroon supporters,

Welcome back to our monthly e-mail blast on the status of U.S.-held political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz, and thanks again for your ongoing interest and support!

This month, we’re pleased to bring you the latest update on Maroon’s ongoing treatment for prostate cancer, a special Father’s Day note from Maroon’s daughter Sharon Shoatz, the first installment of a three-part interview with human rights champion Selma James, and an update on the status of longtime political prisoner Albert Woodfox of the Angola 3.

The campaign to free Maroon has some exciting events and actions brewing for the summer months, so please stay tuned for more info and feel free to be in touch  with your own ideas and connections to support our efforts.

Please also consider contributing to our ongoing fundraising for Maroon. No amount is too little, and all contributions are appreciated.

Special shout out to the supporter who read Maroon’s article, “After Ferguson and Looking Back” and wrote to dialogue with him about it. He was very uplifted that someone read his piece.  Connect with Maroon by writing to Russell Shoats #AF-3855 SCI-Graterford P.O. Box 246 Route 29 Graterford, PA 19426 – 0246

Straight ahead!
The Shoatz Family and Friends

Health Update:
Radiation Treatments Over

Maroon Writes:

My primary report is that I have continued with the radiation therapy, at the same cancer center, for the entire month of April and into the first day of May, 2015. Furthermore, there is movement on another major health concern regarding my right eye.

In addition to weathering common symptoms of the treatment, the fatigue is an entirely different matter! While both my oncologist and physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner have weekly examined me after the sessions, and offered advice on what foods to eat (which I’ve earnestly integrated into my treatment, in addition to what I’ve read, as well as my previous acquired knowledge concerning nutrition), the fatigue is still constant. I often feel like I cannot do much more than drag myself out of bed. And I have been sleeping more now than at any time as far back as I can remember!

Still I exercise 20 minutes or so and do some walking daily. That helps some, but otherwise my reading, writing/typing, and even socializing are at a very low level. According to the literature, my strength will gradually return after I am cured of the cancer—if that is to be…

On May 1, 2015, after the last treatment,  I was taken directly to the office of the ophthalmologist, who last year had recommended I have cataract surgery on my right eye, whereupon the Chief Health Care Administrator at Graterford had lied about me refusing this treatment. He examined me again, and once more is recommending said surgery for my eye. So stay tuned

Let me again, thank all who continue to extend support to my family and me, and let me assure everyone that it is not lost on me that my situation and person is a small matter in these heady times; times and events that are truly historic in regards to how countless thousands are standing up to oppression in ways that even have the potential to make the celebrated 1960s seem little more than a dress rehearsal in order to save ourselves from the maniacs who are bent on destroying our very planet!

Straight Ahead!

To read Maroon’s full detailed health journal follow this link to our website

My Father’s Day with Maroon
by Sharon Shoatz

Russell the III & Sharon

While driving on the New Jersey Turnpike in route to visit my father, my thoughts wandering endlessly about the tasks and responsibilities one is charged with on any given day, I began to sing along with the song “A Family Reunion” by the O’Jays that was playing on the radio. As the song came to the lyrics referencing the family being the solution to the world’s problems, and then poignantly describing each member’s role in the family, I realized that I couldn’t recall ever seeing, touching, or even speaking the words “Happy Father’s Day” to my dad on the actual holiday.

Having turned 50 years young this month, I can finally say that on Sunday, June 21, 2015, I spent a wonderful Father’s Day with my dad Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, my brother Russell the III, Dr. Kim Holder, and my name sake, aunt, and minister, Sharon Joy Shoatz-Mayazi.

I would like to devote this experience/revelation to all my fellow cubs who have experienced similar or very different revelations about their parents, be it their mother or father. I invite others to share and post their experiences and revelations as they relate to being the sibling, wife, husband, mother, father, daughter, or son of an activist. I’m sure we all have so much to reveal and so much to give.

Sister Aunt Sharon Joy Shoatz-Mayazi & Dr. Kim Holder

In my Don Cornelius voice: “The Mighty, Mighty O’Jays”…

You know the family is the solution
To the world’s problems today
Now, let’s take a look at the family
In the family the father is like the head, the leader, the director
Not domineering, but showing love, guidance
For everyone else in the family
Now, if we could get all the fathers of the world
To stand up and be fathers
That would be great

Selma James, writer, activist, co-founder of the International Wages for Housework Campaign, and coordinator of Global Women’s Strike, is interviewed  by Raphael Cohen, for the campaign to free Maroon, in Oakland, California, April 25, 2015. Part 1 of 3, focusing on how James first learned about Shoatz’s case, imprisonment, and ideology, as well as her thoughts on coalition-building across various sectors of social justice movement work.

Free Albert Woodfox by Bret Grote

A federal judge in Louisiana ordered political prisoner and former Black Panther Albert Woodfox immediately released from prison last week, prohibiting the state from attempting to prosecute him for a third time for a 1972 homicide he was framed of. The order was short-lived, however, as a three-judge panel for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals placed a stay on the ruling in response to an appeal by the state of Louisiana. The matter has been assigned a briefing and argument schedule.

Woodfox’s release from prison would mean an end to his 42 years of solitary confinement. Woodfox’s permanent solitary confinement within the prisons of Louisiana was justified by Louisiana State Penitentiary Warden Burl Cain on the grounds that if he were released to the general prison population he would “practice Black Pantherism”. Similarly, documents obtained in Maroon’s legal challenge to his own long-term solitary confinement confirm that prison officials held him in isolation due to his continued affiliation with “radical” and “militant” groups, and his effectiveness as an organizer. Woodfox and Maroon have both been subject to unfathomable hell by the state in order to repress their leadership as well as make an example of those who dare to fight for the liberation of their people.

May 2015 — Maroon’s Newsletter

Greetings Maroon supporters worldwide,

Welcome to our monthly e-mail blast on the status of U.S.-held political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz.

We’re building on the momentum of some recent victories—most notably Maroon’s release into the general prison population at SCI-Graterford after over 20 years in solitary confinement—and are truly grateful for YOUR support and efforts in helping to expand our network, with the ultimate goal of bringing Maroon home.

Please consider contributing to our ongoing fundraising for Maroon.

In this month’s update, find out about Maroon’s current cancer treatments, hear from Maroon supporters at a 61st birthday event for fellow political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal in Pittsburgh, and read one of Maroon most recent essays, an assessment of the renewed movement against unchecked police power, entitled “After Ferguson: Looking Forward and Looking Back.”

Maroon’s Health Update

Maroon continues to journal about the treatment he is receiving through SCI-Graterford. He currently has about 10 treatments left of the 44 he is prescribed. Other than extreme fatigue and a strict diet, Maroon seems to be doing well. He has found some support within the walls, meeting other men who have completed the same treatment for the same cancer, finding camaraderie in sharing information and experiences.

Maroon writes: “My relatives, friends, and supporters are relieved that the treatments that could rid my body of this cancer have finally begun, and I more than anyone (smile). Thanks for all the support, and you can depend on me to follow the instructions given to me by my radiation therapy team in our struggle to rid my body of this cancer.”

Please follow this link to read Maroon’s latest health report.

Spring Maroon Tour group photo, Wilmington
Spring Maroon Tour group photo, Wilmington, Delaware

Spring Maroon Tour Update

On March 28th, we launched the Spring Maroon 2015 Book and Culinary Tour. Throughout the country, Maroon’s son, Russell the III, hosted community discussions based on writings in Maroon The Implacable, breaking bread with healthy food, and strategizing around Maroon’s recovery from prostate cancer and freedom from prison. From Philly to Denver, Brooklyn to Baltimore, we’ve had the opportunity to meet and build with some extraordinary activists, discuss the important organizing models and historical lessons Maroon’s offered in his book, and recharge our efforts to bring Maroon home. Many thanks and much respect to everyone who came out, and stay tuned for the final few events on the tour, coming up next month in the Bay Area and D.C

The Spring Maroon Tour stopped by Pittsburgh on April 24th to participate in a panel discussion, music and educational sharing on the issues surrounding Mumia’s Health, Political Prisoners, Women, and Youth.

What do Gentrification and Political Prisoners have in common? Click HERE to listen to Russell the 3rd respond during the panel discussion at the 61st Birthday Celebration for Mumia in Pittsburgh on April 24, 2015

Pam Africa was the keynote speaker. Click HERE to listen to her 35 minute speech. Tension was high as we were alerted that evening that Mumia was very ill and not receiving treatment. Please keep in touch with the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home

“There is no such thing as a dying from natural causes in prison.” -Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center. Follow this link to hear him speak on Maroon’s Case.

After Ferguson: Looking Forward and Looking Back

by Russell Maroon Shoatz

Ever since the police killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri – closely followed by the killing of Eric Garner in New York, as well as the killing of lesser-known individuals elsewhere – the world has witnessed a new Movement emerging against unchecked police power. We can have no doubt this is an emerging Movement, one that has the potential to qualitatively change our struggles for Human Rights.

Why do I say that? Since the historic Anti-Globalization upheaval that occurred in Seattle, Washington in the late 1990s, followed by the global fight–back against the World Trade Organization and its deadly consolidation of corporate power, the youth of the North have joined hands with the ongoing revolutionary upsurge in county after country in South America. Each in their own way, they have demanded that people and the environment take center stage over corporate profits.

Read More..

April 9, 2015
Greetings Maroon supporters worldwide!

It’s been a momentous last couple years in the long struggle to free our beloved father, uncle, grandfather, and comrade. Thanks to your persistent advocacy, Maroon’s case, and the political pretexts to his over forty years of confinement, have garnered widespread attention and sparked outrage from justice-seeking people across the globe.

As of April, 2015, we have launched a new web presence at WWW.RUSSELLMAROONSHOATZ.COM. There, we will be posting updates on Maroon’s health, legal efforts, writings, as well as related news, campaigns, and culture. If you are interested in contributing art, poems, essays, or articles to Maroon’s blog, please contact maroonconnect@gmail.com.

We have also begun a brand new Email Announcement List. Even if you think you are already connected with us, please follow the link and sign up!

For background on Maroon’s activism and imprisonment, please see his Case History on Our Website.

Maroon Has Started Cancer Treatment

After repeated delays in treatment earlier this year, followed by an emergency outside call-in effort in February, Maroon has begun radiation treatment for prostate cancer. Beginning to document his Chronology of Major Health Problems, Maroon writes:

“As a seventy one year old Political Prisoner I have spent over forty three continuous years in over twenty three jails, prisons and a maximum security mental institution, with over thirty of those years being held in solitary confinement.

During that period … the most challenging health issues I have been faced with … fall in two categories: major difficulties with both eyes, and prostrate problems that have developed into prostrate cancer.

Over the years I have struggled to PURCHASE large segments of medical records the prison and mental institutions compile on me. In the absence of a court order, no copies of these records have ever been available free-of-charge!

At the present time I am in possession of those records, and my legal team has also acquired more, since it’s almost certain we will soon have to institute legal action to compel the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and its medical contractor(s) to provide me with proper medical care.”

Spring Maroon Book and Culinary Tour 2015

On March 28th, we launched the Spring Maroon 2015 Book and Culinary Tour. We’ll be hosting community discussions based on writings in Maroon The Implacable, breaking bread with healthy food, and strategizing around Maroon’s recovery and freedom. Throughout the U.S., all spring long, Maroon’s son, Russell the III, will be leading these events, some of which will include smoothies made with the special ingredient “Maroon Moss,” a blend of sea vegetables, apples, kale and lemon! To see if the Spring Maroon Tour is stopping by a town near you, please see the Itinerary.

Stand With Mumia!

As with justice workers across the globe, we are very concerned about the treatment of Mumia Abu-Jamal during his recent decline in health. We urge you to connect with the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home and to Donate to Mumia’s Health Care Fund.  He needs independent, specialized medical attention, urgently. This is our major demand. We need to step up the pressure and oppose the attempt at state execution of Mumia by medical neglect. Free Mumia!

Social Media ‘Get Well’ Shout Outs for Maroon!

As we wish a speedy recovery and immediate medical justice for Mumia Abu-Jamal and his family, we want to inform supporters that Maroon has officially started the first of 44 treatments of radiation therapy. In light of Mumia’s current situation, the journey for the release of our loved ones and comrades has taken on a renewed sense of urgency. We must continue to raise the issue of medical treatment for an aging demographic of inmates in U.S. prisons. More importantly, we must stay vigilant in our conversations with loved ones regarding their medial records, Department of Corrections policies and procedures, and family rights. We have already lost many giants, men and women comrades in this struggle of revolution and freedom. We can’t lose them twice…

With the launch of the Spring Maroon Book and Culinary Tour, and our new online presence, we are asking supporters to send their thoughts to Maroon as he embarks on this medical journey. Your greetings can come in any form. Submit a spoken word piece, poem, music, rap, tweet, 30 second video, “get well” shout outs, etc. e-mail maroonconnect@gmail.com to have your greeting posted on the site,  and/or tweet @RussellMShoatz.

Support Maroon’s Global Network

As we embark on a renewed fight to bring Maroon home, the time has come for us to reach out to you for financial support. The Shoatz family has been the primary funder of this campaign since Maroon was initially locked up in the early 1970s. In the simplest of terms, we don’t have the resources to continue being this struggle’s main financial engine. Please hit the PayPal link below to contribute.

No amount is too little. Please also consider sharing this information with family members, friends, and colleagues who may be able to support.

We offer you our deepest gratitude, and our hope to celebrate greater victories with you in the months and years to come.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 2.44.26 PMStraight ahead!

The Shoatz Family and Friends


Take action for Mumia – Update from the Hospital

Follow this link for Democracy Now!
Story with Johanna Fernandez of Bring Mumia Home Campaign

Bret Grote of the Abolitionist Law Center is in Pottsville at the hospital. He sent this out this afternoon. Here’s the latest on Mumia:

UPDATE: Yesterday morning, March 30, Mumia Abu-Jamal was rushed to the hospital after passing out at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Mahanoy. He was admitted to the Schuylkill Medical Center with a blood sugar level of 779. Today, he received visits from his wife, Wadiya, and his brother, Keith Cook. Mumia’s blood sugar had dropped to 333 as of a couple hours ago. This is still elevated and at an unhealthy level.

Mumia does not have a history of diabetes, but had been experiencing a series of symptoms that should have alerted medical staff at the prison to the onset of the disease. Instead, he was not given comprehensive diagnostic treatment and a medical crisis emerged that could have resulted in his slipping into a diabetic coma or worse.

Prison officials only relented and permitted visitation under immense public pressure from all over the world. Keep it up. If the prison had its way, nobody would know Mumia was hospitalized, nor would they have permitted visits or the release of any medical information to family.

Family and friends are not leaving Pottsville. Mumia is not out of danger and we will remain vigilant and mobilized. The state keeps trying to kill Mumia – spied on by the FBI since he was 15, shot in the chest and severely beaten on December 9, 1981, framed for a killing he did not commit and put on death row, held in solitary confinement under threat of execution for 30 years, and now denied competent, basic medical care. He is alive because the movement has fought like hell to make it so. The government of the united states of apartheid can never be trusted to protect the rights or respect the lives of Black people or those held in prison. Never forgive, never forget. Stay alert and ready to act.

Please call in reference to Mumia’s legal name, “Wesley Cook.”

To stay connected go to Bring Mumia Home

Richard Ellers
Director, PA Department of Corrections Health Care Services
(717) 728-5311

 John Wetzel
Secretary, PA Department of Corrections
(717) 728-4109

 Schuylkill Medical Center
700 E Norwegian St, Pottsville, PA
(570) 621-4000

SCI Mahanoy
Superindendent John Kerestes
(570) 773-2158

Free Mumia! Get well soon Mumia! WE LOVE YOU!!

mumia jpg

Spring Maroon Tour 2015


Saturday  March 28th    7pm    Brooklyn, NY
@ Habana Niño Cigar Boutique 384 Tompkins Ave –  Book & Cigar $35 package still available online

Saturday  April 11th    7pm    Denver, CO
The Kick off of The Spring Maroon Tour!!!
@ P&L Printing 3827 Steele St in collaboration with ABC Denver & the SHOFAM  Free Spring Roll w purchase of Maroon the Implacable $20

Saturday April 18th    12pm    Wilmington Del.
“Champagne Brunch” 1012 Grandview ave.
Book, screening & openhouse/openbook $35

Sunday April 19th    11am    Philadelphia, PA
@ Atiya Ola’s Raw Food Cafe Sponsors Screening
The Ongoing Cost of Freedom with  Director Vagabond

Saturday April 25th 3pm Baltimore Md.
@ Terra Cafe 101 E 25th St.
Amedjill & #freemaroon Baltimore Sponsor The *#B-More Maroon* Event

Saturday  May 2nd 4pm Maplewood, NJ
@104 Harvard Ave.
Tj’s Juice Joint! Choice of smoothie, box tea set, or Maroon Moss (Kale, Apple, Lemon and the sea vegetable Moss) w purchase of Maroon the Implacable $20 free event

Sun May 10th 4pm Brooklyn NY
Free Maroon Senegal Sponsors Food 4 Thought!
@ Jollof’s Restaurant 1168 Bedford Av
A Roundtable smorgasbord of Maroon’s Ideas from Mosaic to the Hydra & Pop’s special Thieboudienne Recipe

Saturday June 13th 12pm Washington DC
Ladies 1st Book & *Brunch*$25 for ladies $35 men Brunch & book included
RSVP ONLY – All RSVP’s to rshoatz@gmail.com


Blessed Are Those Who Struggle: Fundraiser and Memorial Dinner For Political Prisoners

Tues Feb 24th at The Rotunda Banquet Facility – 401 Walnut Street – Philly

7pm – 10p  FREE Dinner & Amazing Program! Food and Music Free – Donations Greatly Appreciated & All proceeds go to our PP/POWS

Speakers Include: Pam Afrika, Dr. Muhammad Ahmad, Bill Brown, Marcus Shell & The Shoatz Family – Moderated by Sabukwe Bambata

Music by New Afrikan Arts Ensamble, Badd Kitti, and Mixed People

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1 Year Anniversary of Maroon in General Population

February 24, 2015 –Written By Russell the III

Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of my fathers release from solitary confinement into the general prison population at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Graterford. This long-sought move ended over 22 consecutive years in solitary confinement. It also marked the first time that Maroon had been in the general prison population in the state of Pennsylvania since 1983, when he was placed in solitary confinement due to his work with the Pennsylvania Association of Lifers to abolish life-without-parole sentences. For a 17-month period between 1989-1991, Maroon was held in the general prison population at the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas.

Maroon brought suit in May, 2013, on the grounds that he had been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and that prison officials had deprived him of his procedural and substantive due process rights for keeping him in solitary confinement without meaningful review and on insufficient grounds. He is represented by Reed Smith attorneys Rick Etter and Stefanie L. Burt; Bret Grote and Dustin McDaniel of the Abolitionist Law Center; Daniel Kovalik of the United Steelworkers; and retired Reed Smith partner, Hal Engel.

On Monday, January 27, 2014, United States District Magistrate for the Western District of Pennsylvania, Cynthia Reed Eddy, issued a decision denying defendants’ motion to dismiss in the case of Shoatz v. Wetzel. The ruling allowed Maroon to move forward with the legal challenge to his more than 22 consecutive years in solitary confinement.

The campaign to release Shoatz from solitary confinement has also been gathering increasing international attention, including the support of five Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor, Mairead Corrigan Maguire of Northern Ireland, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, Jody Williams from the United States, and Adolfo Perez Esquivel of Argentina. Several U.S. civil and human rights organizations endorsed his release from isolation, as well as growing number of clergy.  In March, 2013, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment and Punishment, Juan Mendez, called on the government “to cease the prolonged isolation of Mr. Shoatz.”

While Maroon’s release from solitary confinement proved a significant step forward in the campaign to free him from prison altogether, our work to bring him home continues. As many of you know, Maroon was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, and was being denied adequate medical care. An emergency phone and letter-writing campaign directed at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections resulted in the onset of an aggressive course of cancer treatment.

The Shoatz family wishes to thank all those supporters who answered the call and advocated for Maroon. We’ll be keeping you abreast of developments in his treatment, and ask that you remain vigilant should the need to further advocate regarding his medical care in the coming weeks and months reemerge.

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Theresa, Maroon, Sharon, & Russell III – February 2015