July Newsletter of Free Maroon Global Network

From Russell Maroon Shoatz:

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 

popeIn 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.

russelll3

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.afrika-town

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

 

Russell Maroon Shoatz: Continued from May 3, 2015 – June 10, 2015

Free Russell Maroon Shoatz:

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.

43. 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.

44. 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.

45. 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.”

46. 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.

47. 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.

48. 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.

49. 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.

50. 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

8. 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

Spring Maroon Book and Culinary Tour 2015 + Stand With Mumia!

From The Shoatz Family and Friends:

russell-shoatz-family

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

Spring Maroon Tour 2015

From Russell Maroon Shoatz:

springmaroon4web.jpg (850×1400)

Saturday  March 28th    7pm    Brooklyn, NY
SMOKE MAROON OUT!!! SOLD OUT!
@ 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

SundayApril 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 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

DOWNLOAD FLYER HERE

Act now to support Black Liberation Prisoner of War Russell Maroon Shoats!

From Support Russell Maroon Shoats:

Former Black Panther Russell Maroon Shoatz has been held in torturous conditions of solitary confinement in Pennsylvania prisons for the past thirty years. He has not had a serious rule violation for more than two decades. Maroon’s role as an educator, human rights defender, writer, and critical intellectual of liberation movements is widely renowned.

From April 8 to May 10, 2013, the Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz is calling for an intense call-in and write-in campaign to bring pressure on the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC), to release Maroon from solitary confinement and into the general prison population. This is the first major phase of a coordinated political-legal campaign, beginning with Maroon’s attorneys sending a “Demand Letter” to the PA DOC on the morning of April 8, 2013. The letter, outlining the legal and humanitarian reasons why an immediate release from solitary is needed, gives the PA DOC an opportunity to correct the grave injustices being carried out on a daily basis before litigation begins.

April 8—Begin flooding the office of PA Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary John Wetzel with phone calls, letters, and faxes. Send a copy of that letter, or address a similar letter, to the office of SCI Mahanoy Superintendent John Kerestes.

PA DOC Secretary John Wetzel 1920 Technology Parkway Mechanicsburg, PA, 17050

Phone number: 717-728-4109  Fax number: 717-728-4109 

Download Sample Letter/Email to Wetzel here

SCI Mahanoy Supt. John Kerestes 301 Morea Road  Mahanoy, PA, 17932

Phone number: 570-773-2158 Fax number: 570-783-2008

Download Sample Letter/Email to Kerestes Here

If you have contact with media in your area, consider suggesting that they cover this story, including the April 8 – May 10 pressure campaign. Help publicize the campaign in schools, workplaces, churches, and communities nationwide.

Talking Points

  • Russell Maroon Shoatz (if writing DOC, always put his prison number – AF-3855) has been in solitary confinement for almost 30 years despite the fact that his disciplinary record has been impeccable—without incident for the past 20 of those years.
  • Such “prolonged” solitary confinement is a violation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture, according to UN Special Rapporteur Juan Mendez. It starves the mind of basic social interaction, human contact, and intellectual stimulation needed for proper brain functioning.
  • Other Pennsylvania prisoners with more extensive violent histories and more recent disciplinary infractions have nevertheless been released from solitary and are now held in general population.
  • Maroon is being targeted because of his work as an educator and because of his political ideas; his time in solitary began just after he was elected president of an officially-sanctioned prison-based support group. This targeting is in violation of his basic human and constitutional rights.
  • At age 69, Maroon poses no threat to the physical well-being or running of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. His 23-hour-a-day physical isolation in solitary is unnecessary and costly.
  • We join the American Civil Liberties Union, Physicians for Human Rights, and a growing number of prominent world leaders in calling for an end to prolonged solitary confinement. Maroon’s case is one of the most egregious, politically motivated, and long-standing of the nation’s solitary cases.
  • Maroon has deep roots in Pennsylvania’s Black community, many friends in peace, justice, and human rights organizations, and family members and supporters throughout the State, the USA, and the world. We understand the PA DOC Secretary’s Office and the Warden of SCI Greene to be particularly and personally responsible for the torturous and lethal conditions of solitary under which Maroon is still kept.
  • Maroon must be released from solitary confinement IMMEDIATELY!!!

Who is Russell Maroon Shoatz?

Russell Maroon Shoatz is a former leader of the Black Panthers and the Black freedom movement, born in Philadelphia in 1943 and originally imprisoned in January 1972 for actions relating to his political involvement. With an extraordinary thirty-plus years spent in solitary confinement—including the past twenty-three years continuously—Maroon’s case is one of the most shocking examples of U.S. torture of political prisoners, and one of the most egregious examples of human rights violations regarding prison conditions anywhere in the world. His “Maroon” nickname is, in part, due to his continued resistance—which twice led him to escape confinement; it is also based on his continued clear analysis, including recent writings on ecology and matriarchy. THOUGH MAROON WAS RECENTLY TRANSFERRED to a lower-security correctional facility in Central Pennsylvania, he IS STILL HELD in a SOLITARY CONFINEMENT UNIT. It will take a mass, grassroots movement to free this inspiring community activist.

Part of the momentum for the campaign will come from a book tour taking place during this period, promoting the newly-published Maroon the Implacable: The collected writings of Russell Maroon Shoatz. But it is up to everyone concerned with human rights anywhere and everywhere to spread the word far and wide, to make these 30 days count—for an end to solitary confinement and an end to the torture of Russell Maroon Shoatz

Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz, freemaroonshoatz@gmail.com,

c/o WRL/Matt Meyer, 339 Lafayette Street, New York NY 10012412-654-9070

Download PDF of Action Alert Here

Download Organizers Packet Here

Solitary confinement: Torture chambers for black revolutionaries

From Aljazeera:

“The torture technicians who developed the paradigm used in (prisons’) ‘control units’ realised that they not only had to separate those with leadership qualities, but also break those individuals’ minds and bodies and keep them separated until they are dead.” – Russell “Maroon” Shoats

Russell “Maroon” Shoats has been kept in solitary confinement in the state of Pennsylvania for 30 years after being elected president of the prison-approved Lifers’ Association. He was initially convicted for his alleged role in an attack authorities claim was carried out by militant black activists on the Fairmont Park Police Station in Philadelphia that left a park sergeant dead.

Despite not having violated prison rules in more than two decades, state prison officials refuse to release him into the general prison population.

Russell’s family and supporters claim that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PA DOC) has unlawfully altered the consequences of his criminal conviction, sentencing him to die in solitary confinement – a death imposed by decades of no-touch torture.

The severity of the conditions he is subjected to and the extraordinary length of time they have been imposed for has sparked an international campaign to release him from solitary confinement – a campaign that has quickly attracted the support of leading human rights legal organisations, such as the Centre for Constitutional Rights and the National Lawyers Guild.

Less than two months after the campaign was formally launched with events in New York City and London, Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, agreed to make an official inquiry into Shoats’ 21 years of solitary confinement, sending a communication to the US State Department representative in Geneva, Switzerland.

Full story at Aljazeera

Mumia on Russell Maroon Shoats

memories-maroon-mumia-abu-jamal