Tribute to Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz

Former Black Panther Russell “Maroon” Shoatz – whose nickname refers to escaped slaves in North and South America after he twice broke free from prison – was illegally held for 30 years in solitary confinement. In 2016, he won a $99,000 settlement and a permanent reprieve from solitary. On top of a history of severe health problems stemming from the universal medical neglect and abuse of prisoners, Maroon was diagnosed in 2019 with stage 4 colon cancer and last November survived COVID. Imprisoned in 1970, he is 77 years old. We honor our elder!

by Sergio Hyland, prisonradio.org

Russell Shoatz, whose birthday was Aug. 23, is a political prisoner convicted of acts that were committed during a time when Black and Brown people were engaged in a war for their very survival. His acts weren’t for selfish gain. 

In fact, with the burden of a Life Without Parole sentence weighing him down, he continued to mentor and educate young men such as myself from the extreme margins of his one-man cell in solitary confinement. 

Nearly 80 years old now, his principles still haven’t changed. Even in prison, against seemingly insurmountable reactionary state violence, he willed himself to carry out the mission of his generation, and I, for one, am grateful for his resolve. 

I don’t know how this story will end; I’m hopeful, but I can’t predict if my elder will ever be released from prison. However, I can predict one thing: I will never quit advocating on his behalf. I will never quit being an example of his tutelage. I will never give up fighting for Russell “Maroon” Shoatz, because he never gave up on me – he never gave up on any of us, and he never will. 

Free Russell “Maroon” Shoatz! Free all political prisoners! 

Follow Sergio Hyland on Instagram @uptownserg or contact him by email at sergiohyland8@gmail.com. To join the campaign to free Russell Maroon Shoatz, contact freemaroon@gmail.com.

How we can help

Call Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolfe at 717-787-2500 to tell him: “Russell Shoatz’s health is rapidly deteriorating. We demand the immediate release of Russell Maroon Shoatz, AF-3855.” They track the calls from different phones and how many times the same number calls so please keep calling and activate your networks.