[Pnews] Chemo Report and update on Russell Maroon Shoatz

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Dec 4 10:05:48 EST 2019

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*Greetings everyone!*

We’re reaching out to update our global network with the latest news on 
Maroon’s health, and to ask for your continued support as we aim to 
ensure that he’s as well taken care of as possible. As you all are 
likely aware, Maroon was diagnosed with Stage 4 colorectal cancer this 
past summer, and since recovering from surgery, has begun an intensive 
chemotherapy regiment. Before sharing with you his latest thoughts, we 
ask that you consider making a donation 
in support of his health. We know you all are social change champions, 
and that your e-mail boxes are likely full with #GivingTuesday appeals. 
Please consider the urgency of Maroon’s current status, and help us help 
him at whatever level you’re capable of. As much if not more so than 
ever before, we need our community’s backing 

*Maroon Discusses Chemotherapy Treatment*

*Maroon recently shared with us this written update amidst a round of 

I've been at SCI-Fayette in Southwest Pennsylvania since August, being 
kept in the prison’s infirmary, only allowed out of my room for two 
hours in the morning, afternoon, and evening, with no outside exercise. 
My family had to struggle for me to have visits in the visiting room, 
because I've long had a prison-imposed "escape risk" separation from 
another prisoner here. We also had to struggle to get approval for me to 
wear long sleeves under the short-sleeve jumpsuit they make all 
prisoners wear in the visiting room, as the chemotherapy causes me to be 

I underwent three chemo sessions and will have a fourth tomorrow, on 
November 12th. I’m prescribed three-day sessions every three weeks, for 
six months, which is to be followed by a test at an outside hospital to 
judge the results of the treatment. The side effects leave me “beat up” 
for two weeks every month.

This is the place Pennsylvania state prisoners are concentrated to 
receive chemotherapy. Can you believe the prison has been cited for its 
extreme toxicity, due to being built over or next to mounds of coal waste?!

Lawyers of the Abolitionist Law Center (ALC) exposed it in a powerful 
and I'm fortunate to have the ALC assisting us in our multi-pronged 
healthcare struggle. As of a few days ago, MOVE political prisoner 
Chucky Africa was transferred here and placed two doors from me. He also 
is battling very serious health issues!

My family and I continue to be grateful for the outpouring of well 
wishes and support!

*In Solidarity,

*Maroon Friend and Supporter etta Reports Back on Visit
  [photo: Sharon, Maroon, and etta funnin' in the photobooth. We miss 
the real live photographers in the visiting rooms across PA. We no 
longer can choose the photos we want.]

I don't think either Maroon’s daughter Sharon or I knew exactly what to 
expect on our first visit to see him after he had started chemo. We 
certainly didn't expect him to be and look just like himself. His cheeks 
were full and his spirit high. Maroon has been using a cane and his gait 
has been slow for some time. He reports that his hospital room is just 
like an outside hospital, very accommodating. He can take a shower 
whenever he wants and since they turned the heat on—which took a 
while—it's been comfortable. Maroon shares that the chemo takes about 
two weeks out of him, leaving him a week or two to think and feel like 

He did have a run-in with a young guard who refused to allow Maroon to 
wear his sweatshirt in the winter air on his way to the visiting room. 
Who would refuse an elder a sweatshirt walking outside in the cold air? 
There are other rules that are frustrating; because he is in a hospital, 
he has to have guard accompaniment whenever he goes outside, in case of 
falling, etc. This leaves Maroon wanting to get fresh air but not 
wanting the one-on-one supervision, so he keeps up his exercises in his 
room, taking full advantage of the 18-foot long cell and using the sink 
as a stand-in for gym equipment.

Maroon ate two Snickers bars! His desire for multiple servings of this 
sweet treat had us chuckling. He was advised that eating sugar feeds the 
cancer but... #sorrynotsorry.

We updated each other on mutual friends, reviewed our favorite Octavia 
Butler stories, and talked about the new Harriet Tubman movie; despite 
the criticisms, we still want to see it.
All things considered, the visit was great. Maroon spent a good half an 
hour taking us through memories he had of when he younger, before he 
went to prison, detailing dynamics and friends and strategies, 
interweaving history and events from across the country with his own 
experiences. It felt precious to hear these memories and I kept wishing 
that everyone could bear witness, gathered ’round the feet of one of our 
movement grandfathers.

*Jerome ‘Hoagie’ Coffey Reflects on Maroon’s Impact
*[Hoagie and family - SCI-Houtzdale]*
Jerome ‘Hoagie’ Coffee, who’s been imprisoned since 1993 
and whose family and supporters continue to organize for his freedom, 
shared these thoughts on Maroon with us:

My first encounter with Mwalimu Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz… A month after 
9/11, I was placed in punitive segregation under an investigation at 
State Correctional Institution Greene. I was on the unit with Mwalimu 
Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz, Andre ‘Shabaka’ Gaye, Kerry ‘Shakaboona’ 
Marshall, Paul ‘Kali’ Hickman, and Nuno Pontes. Every day I used to hear 
these brothers discuss some heavy subjects beyond my vocabulary and 
comprehension, such as history, politics, military, economics, and 
saving at-risk youth.

One day, the correctional officer was passing out commissary on the 
unit. At the time, due to the status of my investigation. I wasn't 
allowed commissary privileges. However, the next morning the 
correctional officer open the wicket and handed me a large envelope. 
Inside the envelope were three soups; three little Debbie cakes; three 
strawberry bars; a copy of the San Francisco Bay View newspaper; a copy 
of The Nation magazine; a book about the Maroons in Suriname; and a note 
telling me to sign up for the yard the next morning. I signed up and 
ended up talking to Maroon. We discussed a wide range of things. He 
asked me if I wanted to get involved in an organization that was 
basically in its infancy stages. I said “yes,” though he warned me that 
this organization was for everybody that addresses the concerns of the 
poor, the weak, and oppressed people.

In a nutshell, prisoncrats witnessed the brotherhood among Mwalimu 
Maroon, Shabaka, Kali, Pontes, Shakaboona, and myself. They separated 
all of us into different units within punitive segregation at Greene. 
Every so often, I might end up on the unit with Mwalimu Maroon, and it 
was a breath of fresh air and positive energy, because I could get the 
latest books from him. In 2011, I was transferred from State 
Correctional Institution Greene to Forest, Albion, and Mahanoy. In 2013, 
I ended up back with Mwalimu Maroon at Mahanoy in the punitive 
segregation unit.

The prisoncrats got paranoid that Mumia Abu Jamal and Mwalimu Maroon 
were in the prison together. And they instituted a separation between me 
and Mwalimu Maroon over a letter that human rights activist Fred Ho sent 
me. Ultimately, I was transferred to Houtzdale and Mwalimu Maroon was 
transferred to Frackville, Graterford, then Dallas.

In closing, for almost 20 years, Mwalimu Maroon been an institution to 
me and my family, and responsible for thousands of young men coming into 
consciousness in punitive segregation; White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, 
etc. Mwalimu Maroon taught us freedom, justice, and equality. He taught 
us critical thinking and problem solving as well as to fight for the 
poor, the week, the oppressed, and to expose racism, police brutality, 
and injustice. Mwalimu Maroon taught us to stop gossiping, backbiting, 
putting each other down, calling each names (especially “nigger”) and to 
have self-dignity. Mwalimu Maroon taught us to celebrity our ancestors 
such as Harriet Tubman, Ida B. Wells, Marcus Garvey, John Henrik Clarke, 
Fannie Lou Hamer, Stephen Biko, Winnie Mandela, Queen Mother Moore.

Thank you Mwalimu Maroon for teaching me. I appreciate you so much for 
saving my life.

*In struggle, In solidarity, Stay alert, Stiff resistance,*

Jerome 'Hoagie' Coffey

*Update on Hoagie's Case from lawyer Martha Conley *

*Martha writes: *
We are still at the research stage.  There are five missing transcripts 
in his case  Three of them are crucial; to making a /Batson/ claim, ie. 
  that the prosecutor used peremptory challenges to eliminate blacks 
from the jury.
The other two transcripts involve missing testimony of key witnesses.  I 
filed a Motion for discovery in October to which the DA's office is in 
the process of responding.
The next hearing is on December 6 before Judge Bronson.   It is a status 
hearing only .  There will be no testimony.  I have made arrangements to 
review the DA's file and the homicide file the following Monday in order 
to hopefully uncover evidence that was never turned over.  I've also 
asked to review in person any test results such as finger prints, etc.
I hope to file an amended PCRA in January assuming I receive the 
necessary discovery.

As we approach the holiday season, we share with you our profound 
gratitude for your commitment to and support of Maroon. It’s of course 
been a challenging last few months, but we continue to fight, emboldened 
by the care, concern, conviction, and advocacy of our extended 
community. Thank you all for being with us on this journey, and for 
amplifying our calls to bring Maroon home. We hope to share more 
celebratory news in the new year. In the meantime, we encourage you to 
write Maroon directly (in the event you have more to share than a one- 
or two-minute voicemail can convey!):

Smart Connections/PA DOC
Russell Shoats #AF-3855
SCI-Fayette PO Box 33028
St Petersburg, FL 33733

And we again invite you to consider making a donation 
to our ongoing fundraising on Maroon’s behalf.

Wishing you and yours a healthy and inspired end of the year,
The Shoatz Family and Friends

/Copyright © 2019 Maroon's Global Network, All rights reserved./
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