Greetings Maroon supporters,
Welcome back to our monthly newsletter/e-mail blast on the status of U.S.-held political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz. Continued thanks and respect for your interest, involvement, and solidarity.
This month, we bring you a brief poem from Maroon paying tribute to recently deceased freedom fighter Hugo “Yogi” Pinell, a touching reflection penned by Maroon’s son Hassan upon visiting his father, and some important information on the fight to save longtime Pennsylvania prisoner Kerry Shakaboona Marshall, who Maroon calls “a man [who has] the makings of a University professor, doctor, or scientist … never one to waste a single moment in bettering himself and others he could assist.”
As always, please feel free to contact us directly 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.
Connect with Maroon directly by writing to Russell Shoats #AF-3855, SCI-Graterford, P.O. Box 246 Route 29, Graterford, PA 19426 – 0246
Following news of Hugo “Yogi” Pinell being killed at New Folsom Prison this past August, Maroon wrote a brief poem paying tribute to the longtime prison activist and social justice hero. If you missed our newsletter two months back, please visit our website for more info on Pinell’s remarkable life. Maroon’s poem can be read below.
Why Hugo “Yogi” Pinell Will Be Remembered
By Russell Maroon Shoatz
Copyright 2015 © Pampata
Exceptionally Well Done!
The long drive, my forgetting to have exact change for vending machine cards, locker expenses, and other visiting procedural protocols, was just a part of the anxiety I was feeling, as I began to inch closer to the front of the check-in line. You see, the last time I made the three-hour trek up the highway one Saturday in July, I was turned away with a simple explanation. “Sorry, it’s not his visiting block today,” the prison guard had uttered, as she stared at what must have been the most bewildered expression I had mustered on my face since high school physics.
Unbeknownst to me, that day in July just so happened to be Family Day. Hence, the explanation as to why there were so many small kids, babies, and single mothers there. I recall thinking to myself, freedom, next to life itself, has to be the highest priority valued by humans. Anything short of that, I surmised, must be like death itself.
Because of the sheer number of visitors for Family Day, inmate visits were divided according to last name, with some visits occurring on Saturday and the others on Sunday. As I came to grips with not being able to see my father because I came on Saturday and not Sunday, I glanced around the room looking at all of the fractured families. Women with children were cluttered throughout the check-in area. Their valiant attempts to maintain a semblance of family life, I noted. At that very moment, I stopped feeling sad for myself, knowing that all I had to do was come back another day. But it was not that simple for all of those kids who longed for their fathers or for the mothers forced to do family life solo.
As I exited the prison grounds and began driving down the long road back towards the interstate, I tried to recollect back some 40-plus years earlier, wondering about my own mother’s plight, and how she was confronted with this same issue in the early ’70s. My memory was blank; I could not recall one visit in which my mother accompanied me to see my father. Was my subconscious suppressing painful past events or was the passage of time doing what it naturally does? Was Mom traumatized by her own interactions and past deeds in the struggle that she could not bear any more? Had she gotten too close to the fire and possibly steps away from being incarcerated herself? I speculated that it had come down to two options: being a mother or being a lover. In many regards, her fate, as well as that of other like-minded associates who aggressively challenged the status quo, was up in the air, and she was probably under tremendous pressure. Their plights intertwined with my father’s and
he ultimately received multiple life sentences.
Read the rest of Hassan’s reflection here
Kerry Shakaboona Marshall was 17 when he was arrested in 1988. As a result of the “Get Tough on Crime” movement, he was sentenced to life in prison, which is equivalent to DEATH by Incarceration. He is one of 500 youth in the state of Pennsylvania who received mandatory LIFE sentences with total disregard to their mental capacity, education, and any emotional and physical trauma they’d encountered. Let us say NO to this barbaric system beginning with Kerry Shakaboona Marshall!
Since being imprisoned, Shakaboona has matured into a committed and principled advocate for human rights both inside and outside the prison system. He can regularly be heard advocating for the most disadvantaged in his commentaries at Prison Radio. He is also the Co-Editor of The Movement, a magazine published by the Human Rights Coalition, where his written commentaries can be found.
His Life MATTERS!
Fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) is needed for a re-sentencing defense team of experienced individuals who will advocate zealously for a sentence other than DEATH by Incarceration for Kerry Shakaboona Marshall.
Visit the Indigogo Site to learn more and contribute to our efforts.
“Twenty years ago I met him at the end of the line, in a Super Maximum Security section of Pennsylvania’s state prison in Greene County. There he was serving a natural life sentence – imposed on him while he was still a juvenile – because the system of injustice had taken a wayward kid and condemned him to spend the rest of his life within the confines of prisons.
Yet the Shakaboona I met as a man had the makings of a University professor, doctor, or scientist, and by then was never one to waste a single moment in bettering himself and others he could assist.
As an elder who must leave this life in the not-too-distant future, I’m comforted to know that he continued to grow and better himself, and thus my own grandchildren will benefit from the kind of man he has developed himself to be: One of the best humans walking the planet Earth!”
– Russell Maroon Shoatz
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