jeudi 1 mars 2012

Petition pour Russel Maroon Schoatz : 68 ans, depuis 40 ans en prison, 21 ans en isolement : Release Russell Maroon Shoats from Solitary Confinement


Memories of Maroon
[col. writ. 2/10/12) (c) '12 Mumla Abu-Jamal

His name is almost legendary: Russell 'Maroon' Shoatz, an affiliate of the Black Panther Party, activIst and Black revolutionary.

My teenage memory is sparse about him, other than what  read in the paper (and largely disbelieved) As a member of the Black United Liberation Front, I prepared a leaflet in his support, calling for letters to be written to him.

Occasional news flashes intervened, but such reports became all the more rare, and his name faded into the mist of memory, of all except his family and closest comrades.
Until 1995, when I was transferred to Greene's ominous Death Row.  Folks assumed I knew him, although we'd never met. Again, we saw each other sparingly, until a cool day, perhaps In 1998, when we were near each other In the 'yard' (actually, the 'cage') separated only by two walls of fencing.

He praised my newest book, Faith of Our Fathers  (Africa World Press: 2004), a study of Afrlcan- American and African spiritual traditions.

I was thrilled he read and enjoyed it.

The next time I saw and really talked to him was Friday, December 9, 2011, around 7 a.m., the day after I left Death Row.

We both tried to ignore the biting sub-freezing temperatures in t-shlrts, boxers, under thin, flImsy orange jumpsuits, with 'yard' lasting only an hour.

Even though not formally on 'the Row', I unconsciously expected 2 hours of yard, but Maroon knew better. He launched into an analysis of the Occupy Movement that left me stunned with his brIlliance, insight and succinctness.

I thought to myself, 'whoal This guy has thought long and deeply about this; I've got to sharpen up my game!'
According to Maroon, this new formatIon showed how technology has transformed not only communications, but organizing itself. It cut out the middleman--went straight to the potential activist, and convinced him or her to engage or disengage. He explained that this new social medium gave impetus to organizIng in Tahrlr Square, Cairo, but also in the U.S.-based Occupy Movement.
Organizing would never be the same, he said.

For 3 frigid mornings on C pod, Maroon and I met for just under an hour, and I left impressed each time.

For here was a man who was arguably one of the longest-held Black political prisoners in America (with the possible exception of former Black Panther, Chip Fitzgerald of Callfornia)-- unquestionably one of the longest-held men In Pennsylvania's solitary for over 30 years--and although nearly 70 years old, his mind was as sharp as a cactus, informed, analytical, intuitive, acute.

Three days--three hours--and then I was gone.

Maroon--wrlter, historian, and theorist--remalned, as he does to this day.

His loving family continues to fight for his release from the tortures of 'the hole', by making people aware of the plight of Maroon.

(c) '12 maj


Petition to End the Solitary Confinement Torture of Russell Maroon Shoats
Russell Maroon Shoats (#AF-3855), a 68-year-old prisoner held at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Greene in southwestern Pennsylvania, has been kept in solitary confinement for more than 21 years. He has been unable to hold his children or grandchildren or interact with others in a humane setting during this time, despite not having violated prison rules in two decades. He has suffered severe psychological anguish and his physical health has been worsened by the stress of prolonged isolation.
Maroon has spent nearly 40 years within the Pennsylvania prison system, 30 of those in solitary confinement. During this time he has earned a reputation amongst prison staff and prisoners as a leader because of his consistent support for human rights inside and outside the walls. Prison officials claim that Mr. Shoats is a security threat due to past escapes and attempts, though new evidence has surfaced that his continued solitary confinement is based on secret and fraudulent evidence of a non-existent plan to takeover a prison in the 1980s. Prison officials also identified Maroon's political associations as a basis for continuing to torture him via solitary confinement.
We are distressed and outraged that an elderly man who is nearing his 70th birthday continues to be treated in such a cruel manner based on his constitutionally-protected support for human rights and in retaliation for his expressing political opinions disfavored by the prison administration. Not having committed an infraction in more than two decades reveals that Russell Shoats is more than ready to re-enter the general prison population.
We, the undersigned, are calling on prison officials to end the solitary confinement torture of Russell Maroon Shoats by releasing him into the general population of the prison immediately.

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