Black Lives Matter, Tribute to Hugo Pinnell, Health Update & More

MAROONBLMAugust 2015

Greetings Maroon supporters,

This month, we bring you a final update on Maroon’s recovery from radiation treatment of prostate cancer; a brief report back from a birthday gathering held for Maroon in Philadelphia; the latest installment of our interview with Selma James, human rights champion and longtime Maroon supporter; and a tribute to Hugo Pinnell, beloved hero of the Prison Liberation Movement, tragically killed this month at New Folsom Prison in California.

The opening image is a poem Maroon recently penned to honor and inspire  The Movement for Black Lives convening in Cleveland.

Connect with Maroon directly by writing to Russell Shoats #AF-3855, SCI-Graterford, P.O. Box 246 Route 29, Graterford, PA 19426 – 0246

Feel free to contact us with your own ideas and connections to strengthen our efforts. Please also consider contributing to our ongoing fundraising for Maroon. No amount is too little, and all contributions make an impact.

As always, we offer our deepest thanks for your support, and our hope to celebrate with you the full and unconditional release of Maroon, and all political prisoners, in the days to come.

Free Maroon! Free Em All!
The Shoatz Family and Friends

Health Update:
Major Health Problems Overcome!

Maroon Writes:

This will be the final report because as you will read below, thankfully, I have overcome the “major health problems” that I have been wrestling with. (HOORAY!!)

It’s been eight weeks since my last radiation therapy session, and as doctors forecasted, I have gotten better and better.

I still have to take about a dozen different associated medications, and my daughter Sharon has faithfully researched and provided me with detailed information on all of them. So far the side effects are not ones that cause alarm.

Gonna close by thanking everyone who has helped me and my family members prevail on the prison establishment to provide me with proper health care services. And you can depend on me to continue my decades-old efforts geared towards struggling for human rights.

Straight Ahead!
Maroon

To read Maroon’s full detailed health journal follow this link.

Maroon’s Birthday – August 23, 1943

On Saturday, August 22, friends and family of Maroon gathered at Philadelphia’s Sayre Recreation Center to celebrate Maroon’s 72nd birthday and pay tribute to Maroon’s mother, the late Gladys Shoatz.

Taking a page from writings in Maroon The Implacable, those in attendance worked to continue the rehabilitation of the center’s outdoor space into a thriving community garden, named in commemoration of Maroon’s mother.

Maroon supporter Connie Grier wrote on the day of the event, “Sometimes, in order to SEE the vision, you have to BE the vision. Today is a beautiful day, not just weather-wise, but because of a beautiful thing that is manifesting. Even I, with my allergies, hatred of all things grass, and aversion to bugs, knew I had to spend some time here today. My heart brothers have spoken. Today, in honor of the earthday of Russell Maroon Shoatz, a community garden is being rehabbed. Men, young and old, have pledged to participate.
Maroon wants the community to benefit and bond over nutrition, farming, and health. There are red radishes, corn, and beans growing already, but the vision is ready to be expanded to the entire space. Nothing happens in isolation. When communities come together, magic occurs. A great beginning.”

Selma James Interview – Part 3

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, from Free Maroon Bay Area, in Oakland, California. In part 3 of this 4-segment series, James shares her impressions of Maroon’s recent writings on the limitations of democratic centralism and vanguardism in political organizing.

Echoing Maroon, she blasts the tendency of careerist politicians to use this model as a means of usurping power from the grassroots in an effort to advance their own undemocratic agendas. She talks of avoiding this longstanding trap in order to keep power in the hands of the masses. She then discusses her late husband C.L.R. James’ classic text on the history of the Haitian Revolution, The Black Jacobins, and reflects on Maroon’s opinion that, 75 years since its initial publication, it remains one of the most important books in politicizing U.S.-held prisoners today.

As Black August draws to a close, it’s a timely moment to reflect on the Haitian Revolution, and this book’s acclaimed role in inspiring resistance to racist oppression. Read Maroon’s essay on the ongoing importance of The Black Jacobins here.

Tribute for Hugo Pinnellhugo-pinell

The Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz joins in mourning the loss of Hugo “Yogi” Pinnell, longtime prison activist and social justice hero who, as many of you are no doubt aware, was killed at New Folsom Prison earlier this month.

As our friends at Critical Resistance write, “Imprisoned since 1965, Hugo Pinell—like many other people of his time—was politicized while inside, educated and inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, and other freedom movements on the outside. Hugo became a part of the Prison Liberation Movement, which saw the prison as a front of struggle connected to the global upsurge of oppressed people against colonialism, imperialism, and white supremacy.

This was a period of intense education, organizing, and resistance among imprisoned people—some locked up as political prisoners, some transformed while inside, nearly all targeted by prison administrations for their political stances and activism.

In 1971, Hugo, along with five other prisoners at San Quentin State Prison in California, were charged with raising a rebellion at the facility’s Adjustment Center, during which prisoner movement leader George Jackson was assassinated. Several weeks later, actions commemorating the assassination of Jackson by prisoners at Attica went on to spark the massive rebellion at that prison. The story and political trial of the San Quentin Six helped people across the planet to understand the conditions inside prison, the resistance of prisoners, and the connection across the walls that the Prison Liberation Movement was trying to make.”

Please click here to read the full tribute to our fallen comrade.

Rest In Power Yogi!

July Newsletter of Free Maroon Global Network

Greetings Maroon Supporters,

We’re back with our monthly newsletter/e-mail blast on the status of U.S.-held political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz. Many thanks for your continued support and solidarity as we push on in the struggle to free our beloved father, grandfather, husband, and mentor.

This month, we bring you an update on Maroon’s recovery from radiation treatment of his prostate cancer, the second installment of our interview series with human rights champion and longtime Maroon supporter Selma James, a letter Maroon recently wrote to the Pope in hopes of having him visit prisoners in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, and a brief reportback on the Spring Maroon Tour’s final event in Oakland, California.

As always, please feel free to contact us directly 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 greatly appreciated.

Connect with Maroon directly 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:
Rebounding From Radiation Treatments

Maroon Writes:

Good News! The radiation therapy that I have been receiving has been successful!

After completing my radiation treatment on June 3, 2015, my oncologist (“Dr. K”), had me seated in a separate “examination room” where, weekly, both he and his physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner (“C.”) would review with me the week’s treatments and my overall condition. He told me that my treatments were completed, asked about my overall feelings, and said something like “From my mouth to God’s ear” what we had accomplished “should do the trick”; which I took to mean rid my body of the cancer. Still I asked him, “Is there any cancer in my body?” And he said, “Any cancer cells in your body are dying,” and that the radiation would continue to attack any cancer cells, that I would begin to feel much better within six to eight weeks, and “get better and better.”

On behalf of my family and myself, I again want to extend my deepest thanks to everyone who has helped in any way. Cancer is simply an exceptionally trying condition to deal with, and when a political prisoner like myself suffers that condition, without strong support from the streets there are many elements within the criminal UNJUSTICE establishment who may very well take that opportunity to interfere with the medical professionals who are willing to help heal you. A tragic history that continues to unfold.

Straight Ahead!
Maroon

To read Maroon’s full detailed health journal follow this link.

Selma James Interview

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. In part 2 of this 4-segment series, James discusses her impressions of Maroon’s recent writings regarding sexism and patriarchy in the racial justice movements of the 1960s and ’70s.She applauds Maroon’s critical self-reflection, supportively questions some of his conclusions, and shares her thoughts on the potentially transformative implications of his and other male prisoners’ commitment to naming, condemning, and ending violence against women.

As the #SayHerName movement to seek justice in often overlooked police killings of black women intensifies following Sandra Bland’s tragic death last week, James’s thoughts on the importance of men’s solidarity in the struggle for women’s liberation couldn’t be timelier. Watch the interview segment here, and stay tuned for parts 3 and 4 in the coming months.

Maroon’s Letter to the Pope 

In the lead-up to Pope Francis’s trip to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families in late September, Maroon has written the Pope an open letter, inviting him to visit with prisoners in the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections during his stay, and to hear directly from prisoners about their vision for true rehabilitation and an end to mass incarceration, a topic that now seems to be on the U.S. public’s consciousness more than at any point in the previous few decades.

As Maroon states in his letter: “… while I seek forgiveness and work towards reconciliation with those I have wronged and hurt, the bigger picture urges me to also strive towards laying a foundation to help younger people extract themselves from a generations-old racial, economic, and historical set of contradictions that not only led to my imprisonment, but has since metastasized into the criminalization of millions based on their racial and/or economic standing – an unjust, unethical, and ultimate poisoning of society that is at odds with the compassion and broadness of vision that Your Holiness is held in such high esteem for championing.

Society has everything it needs to rescue itself from the MASS INCARCERATION fallout that has resulted from these failures. And by overcoming this part of our problems, we place ourselves in a position to challenge others to fashion solutions to other social issues that have been eating away at us for so long.

A way forward in uprooting MASS INCARCERATION rests with offering every prisoner – as well as every prison employee – an opportunity to obtain the type of education and skill-sets needed by society in the 21st century, all of which can be accomplished by joining the global online revolution in higher education.”

To read Maroon’s full letter to the Pope follow this link.

We’ve received indication that the Pope will, in fact, visit Philadelphia’s Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFC) while in town, and we invite you to reiterate the importance of such a visit, and express your support for it, by tweeting the official Papal Twitter account, @Pontifex, with a message echoing Maroon’s sentiments. We ask that you not specify Maroon by name, but rather, use the slogan he’s put forth in his letter. One such tweet tweet might read: “@Pontifex Please take time to meet Pennsylvania prisoners. MASS EDUCATION–YES! MASS INCARCERATION–NO!” If you do choose to tweet, please also include the hashtags #PopeVisitPAprisoners and #PopeInPhilly.

Spring Maroon Tour Concludes

Lastly, the Spring Maroon 2015 Book and Culinary tour concluded this month in Oakland, California, with an event entitled “The 4th of the Lie,” a panel discussion “about the importance of independence and self-determination for colonized peoples,” hosted by the Qilombo Cultural Center. Maroon’s son, Russell the III, joined Shaka At-thinnin, founder of the Black August Organizing Committee, on the evening of July 4th, to expound on some of his father’s ideas from the essay collection Maroon The Implacable.

While fireworks and car alarms were going off every couple minutes right outside of Qilombo’s doors, Russell shared his thoughts with a multi-generational audience on the importance of coalition-building across movement sectors, even and especially when said sectors may be unfamiliar with one another’s mores and norms; the importance of men challenging sexism and supporting the aspirations and self-determination of women; and the crucial role of localized food production in the midst of large agri-business expansion, coupled with lack of access to healthy food and chronic health problems in working class communities of color.

This last point proved especially timely, as Qilombo community members have recently been involved in a struggle to preserve the Afrika Town Garden they established for the purpose of providing healthy, locally-grown produce to their neighborhood. After years of neglecting the lot on which Afrika Town was recently born, its owner has threatened to evict volunteers and raze the garden, in a clear attempt to make his property more appealing to potential well-off buyers in a rapidly gentrifying part of town. Read more about the struggle to defend the Afrika Town Garden.

As always, we offer you our profound gratitude for your support, and our hope to celebrate greater victories with you in the days to come…

The Shoatz Family and Friends

Maroon’s Letter to the Pope MASS EDUCATION – YES! MASS INCARCERATION–NO!

Open Letter from a Life Prisoner

To His Holiness Pope Francis

Most Holy Father:

My name is Russell Shoatz, and I have been continuously imprisoned in U.S.A. prisons for over 43 years, after being convicted in regards to the death of a policeman in 1970.

Although I have never killed another individual, I was nonetheless a part of a movement whose outrage and actions against racial, economic, and social injustice resulted in the death of that policeman, a train of events that leaves me with deep remorse.

It is said that when a fool gets enough scars, he will become a wise man. In my case – soon to be 72 years of age – I have certainly gained some wisdom about some matters, in particular what I am about to present here. Namely my concern nowadays is for the countless younger people who may be forced to also spend their lives in prisons because of the injustices in this society, highlighted by the seemingly unjust killings of individuals at the hands of police all over this country, similar to the events that landed me in prison so long ago.

Yet, while I seek forgiveness and work towards reconciliation with those I have wronged and hurt, the bigger picture urges me to also strive towards laying a foundation to help younger people extract themselves from a generations-old racial, economic, and historical set of contradictions that not only led to my imprisonment, but has since metastasized into the criminalization of millions based on their racial and/or economic standing – an unjust, unethical, and ultimate poisoning of society that is at odds with the compassion and broadness of vision that Your Holiness is held in such high esteem for championing.

Society has everything it needs to rescue itself from the MASS INCARCERATION fallout that has resulted from these failures. And by overcoming this part of our problems, we place ourselves in a position to challenge others to fashion solutions to other social issues that have been eating away at us for so long.

A way forward in uprooting MASS INCARCERATION rests with offering every prisoner – as well as every prison employee – an opportunity to obtain the type of education and skill-sets needed by society in the 21st century, all of which can be accomplished by joining the global online revolution in higher education.

Just imagine the changes that would come about if the U.S.A.’s vast array of colleges and universities were to afford such a task to their faculties and students, who presently desperately need a “mission” of sufficient gravity to convince the tax-paying public to support them and not the MASS INCARCERATION they now underwrite. The slogan for such an initiative could be: “MASS EDUCATION – YES. MASS INCARCERATION – NO!”

Clearly all demographics would benefit: The taxpayers would be relieved of pouring billions into the present bottomless pit. College and university faculties and students would gain unmatched experience in tackling one of society’s most vexing problems, and thus place themselves on firmer ground when arguing that it’s unwise to treat them as they are presently being treated, primarily as economic cogs. Millions of prisoners would transition from being society’s burdens into societal assets. And many prison employees could use their acquired education and skill-sets to move on to more rewarding and stable professions.

Otherwise we continue to muddle in the present unsustainable manner… That’s until the taxpayers become so frustrated that they demand a generalized privatization of the prison system, which has been cleverly marketed as a solution, but is failing everywhere to deliver on its promises.

Your Holiness:

Your compassion is offering hope and comfort to billions. If what I have expressed here is deemed worthy of your consideration, would it be too much to further beseech you to find your way to the State Correctional Institution at Graterford, which is the largest prison in the state of Pennsylvania, and is within fifty miles of the city of Philadelphia, which you are scheduled to visit in the Fall? Such a visit would highlight our meager efforts at Graterford to convince our state’s lawmakers and citizens to replace the present unethical system of MASS INCARCERATION with one of MASS EDUCATION and true REHABILITATION.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Russell Shoatz (AKA Russell Shoats – Maroon/ Harun a. Ra’uf) AF3855

Box 244 Graterford, PA 19426-0246 U.S.A.

Note: We’ve received indication that the Pope will, in fact, visit Philadelphia’s Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility (CFC) while in town, and we invite you to reiterate the importance of such a visit, and express your support for it, by tweeting the official Papal Twitter account, @Pontifex, with a message echoing Maroon’s sentiments. We ask that you not specify Maroon by name, but rather, use the slogan he’s put forth in his letter. One such tweet tweet might read: “@Pontifex Please take time to meet Pennsylvania prisoners. MASS EDUCATION–YES! MASS INCARCERATION–NO!” If you do choose to tweet, please also include the hashtags #PopeVisitPAprisoners and #PopeInPhilly.

 

Continued from May 3, 2015 – June 10, 2015

Chronology of Major Health Problems

(Continued from May 3, 2015)

Note: Good News! The radiation therapy that I have been receiving has been successful! So I will keep this short, just highlighting the main aspects of what has occurred so that we can turn our attention to some of the other problems that confront us.

  1. From Mondays to Fridays, from May 4, 2015, until May 29, 2015, with the exception of Memorial Day, I received radiation therapy. It continued from June 1, 2015 until June 3, 2015.
  1. Nothing out of the ordinary to report concerning the treatment by the guards that transported me to the cancer center: always three guards, supervised by a lieutenant, although usually different guards each trip; while normally two regular guards accompany other prisoners on these hospital trips, and on most days my party would see such occurring within the same hospital.
  1. After completing my radiation treatment on June 3, 2015, my oncologist (“Dr. K”), had me seated in a separate “examination room” where, weekly, both he and his physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner (“C.”) would review with me the week’s treatments and my overall condition. He told me that my treatments were completed, asked about my overall feelings, and said something like “From my mouth to God’s ear” what we had accomplished “should do the trick”; which I took to mean rid my body of the cancer. Still I asked him, “Is there any cancer in my body?” And he said, “Any cancer cells in your body are dying,” and that the radiation would continue to attack any cancer cells, that I would begin to feel much better within six to eight weeks, and “get better and better.”
  1. It’s well established that a cancer is a group of cells (usually coming from a single cell) that has uncontrolled growth. Thus his answer satisfied me; especially since he had told me during an earlier examination that I had to continue to drink a lot of water, since “the cancer is not going to evaporate into the sky,” but would be passed in my urine, something the “dying” cancer cells in my body will hopefully do.
  1. Dr. K then had me sign discharge papers, and handed the guard typed instructions to deliver to the Graterford medical staff concerning my follow-up care, which Dr. K. told me would consist of periodic blood tests and prostate examinations that I have become very familiar with. And that I would remain on this regiment for the rest of my life, along with taking certain medications.
  1. I thanked him, as well as “A.” and “B.,” the two radiation therapists who were busy monitoring another patient I caught a glimpse of on the desktop monitors as the guards were wheeling me away in a wheelchair, since I was always required to be moved around the hospital in that manner.
  1. Since then I had a visit with one of my lawyers, who said he would move to acquire the balance of my medical records so that we could review what has been written since the last batch of medical records we obtained.
  1. It’s been exactly one week since my last radiation therapy treatment, and up until two days ago, the fatigue from those treatments was almost overwhelming! That particular side effect accompanied most of over two months of treatments. Yesterday and today I have been feeling a little more energy, and Dr. K said that I must view the ending of the radiation treatments and my recovery in the same manner; meaning, one would not expect to immediately recover after undergoing surgery. Though psychologically I am less stressed, obviously…

Major Eye Problems

  1. During the visit with my lawyer, mentioned above, he told me to submit a request to the Chief Health Care Administrator here concerning the cataract surgery on my right eye that the outside specialist recommended after examining my eye on May 1, 2015. And if there is an anymore undue delay, my lawyer will follow up with a notice to begin legal action towards getting that taken care of as well.

On behalf of my family and myself, I again want to extend my deepest thanks to everyone who has helped in any way. Cancer is simply an exceptionally trying condition to deal with, and when a political prisoner like myself suffers that condition, without strong support from the streets there are many elements within the criminal UNJUSTICE establishment who may very well take that opportunity to interfere with the medical professionals who are willing to help heal you. A tragic history that continues to unfold.

Straight Ahead!

Maroon

June 10, 2015

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!
Maroon

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

My Father’s Day with Maroon
by Sharon Shoatz

fathersday
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.

sisholder
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

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