After spending 22 years in solitary confinement, political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz has now been moved to general population. What a huge victory! Thank you to all of Marie’s supporters who joined in solidarity with this struggle by making phone calls, signing petitions, mailing in letters, and attending events. This is a huge victory for prisoner support and prison abolition movements.
MAROON UNCHAINED: A People’s Victory!
For immediate release:
February 21, 2014
The international movement to free political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz from solitary confinement has achieved an historic victory: on Thursday, February 20, 2014, Maroon stepped into general population for the first time in 22 years. There is no doubt; this is a PEOPLE’S VICTORY!
The coordinated efforts of Scientific Soul Sessions (SSS) and the Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz – particularly those organized groups in NYC, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia – showed the true power of the people. When SSS (a multigenerational collective of revolutionaries prefiguring a new society and working directly with the lessons laid out by Maroon) sparked this international movement three years ago, Maroon’s name was hardly known beyond a small circle of dedicated prisoner rights activists. Over the past years – on the political, artistic, and cultural fronts – we have seen the founding of the Campaign, the funding and initial coordination of Maroon’s Legal Team, the publication of Maroon’s collected essays, and the organization of countless events and soul sessions across the US.
These achievements are only the beginning. By answering the calls to action, we created a tidal wave of momentum that must be maintained until it is unstoppable. The power of the people proved to be a far greater force than the system, which would have been happy to see Maroon die without ever again feeling the embrace of his loved ones.
In a matter of weeks, Maroon went from a feces infested dungeon inside the criminally insane Restricted Housing Unit at SCI Graterford with nothing – not even a blanket – to General Population because of the people’s vigilance, voice, and committed support to fight this injustice and stop the torture of Russell Maroon Shoatz.
This proves our strength to make the seemingly impossible possible. It proves that the pressure to free Maroon from solitary was greater than the state ever anticipated. The next step must be to demand Freedom Now for Russell Maroon Shoatz. We won’t allow less than complete freedom from incarceration for this freedom fighter and inspiring leader.
Let us celebrate this victory by demanding FULL freedom for Russell Maroon Shoatz! We must stand firm and be prepared for our next steps and calls to action. Thank you to all for your committed and generous support; our future work together must be stronger still!
Scientific Soul Sessions | www.scientificsoulsessions.com
NYC Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz
International Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoatz
Lynne Stewart is a radical human rights lawyer held imprisoned at FMC Carswell, the same prison as Marie Mason. She is battling cancer at this moment and has been given 12 months to live. This poem is dedicated to her and the current fight to grant her compassionate release. More information is available at lynnestewart.org
I’ve been on the wrong side of too many fences
Their lamentations creaking sour
Protests of possession.
Dissonant in any ear
And in mine, so much…
The coyote’s song is sweeter so,
A harmony with air
And he owns nothing but the world itself
So let me be
Where the wind blows free
Through rocky arches, twisting trees
To fill the breathless sky
So wide and full of light
This vaulted blue cathedral,
Where we disappear alone,
Where we are made whole again
There are no fences here
I would like to add my voice to the many who have called for Lynne Stewart to be granted compassionate release. Though we are nominally at the same prison facility at Carswell, we have been unfortunately unable to meet. The Admin Unit (where I am housed) is an isolated unit, separate from the rest of the facility here. But I would have been proud to make her acquaintance and to thank her for her years of tireless work on behalf of those in need of defense and advocacy. From all that I have read about her, she is a formidable attorney – both fearless and compassionate. It is tragic that this hero of the people, this astute, talented and conscientious woman, is prevented from accessing the care she needs to give her the best chance at survival, and to at least be given the closeness and connection to her partner, Ralph, and family during this time of grave illness. I have had the opportunity to thank the Warden here for speaking on Ms. Stewart’s behalf in her request for compassionate release. If the decision were his, Ms. Stewart would be home now. So I am still hopeful that other prison officials will also come to the opinion that Ms. Stewart should be allowed to go home. I hope that the ever increasing numbers of good hearted people working together to apply some pressure will eventually bring about her release. If you are able to call or write on Ms. Stewart’s behalf, I urge you to do so now. She is precious to us all, and worth fighting for. Wishing you well, Ms. Stewart, with love and solidarity
– Marie Mason
NOTE: We are asking supporters to send letters through November 25, 2013.
Please help get Marie Mason moved out of FMC Carswell by writing a letter to the Bureau of Prisons Director. We are asking as many people as possible to write letters and organize letter writing events so that we can show the BOP just how many people recognize her position as unjust, and support the idea of her being moved into a general population unit closer to her family.
Below is the address to send all letters to, and a sample letter. Please remain firm but polite in your communications with the BOP.
Charles E. Samuels, Jr. , Director,
Federal Bureau of Prisons,
320 First St., NW,
Washington, DC 20534
Dear Director Samuels:
I write on behalf of Marie Mason #04672-061, who is currently incarcerated
in a special isolation unit at FMC Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas. Marie
has been unjustly placed in this unit – without notice or cause- in a move
that is strictly punitive on the part of the BOP. She has had no
disciplinary incidents since her incarceration, poses no threat or danger
to the prison or other inmates and has worked hard to make her life and
the life of her fellow inmates better for the last 5 years. There is no
reason for her to be in this unit – 1000 miles from friends and family.
In fact, you said in a memorandum written to all federal prisoners in June
2013 to reaffirm the importance of parenting that, “there is no substitute
for seeing your children, looking them in the eye, and letting them know
you care about them.” Marie would love the opportunity to do this.
I urge you to transfer Marie to a lower security facility – closer to her
family and friends – so that she can serve the remainder of her sentence
in a facility where she can be housed with the general population.
Her sentence would best be served in a facility consistent with her
peaceful personality and constructive nature.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. If a reply is possible, it
would be appreciated.
“this image is a riff on a photo in the New York Times (June 23rd to be exact) about the protests in Brazil. I thought about putting a soccer ball in, or a bus – but really the unrest is, of course, more deeply rooted than that…. Hope it’s clear that the protestors are tossing back canisters of tear gas, that’s why she has the thick oven mitt-like gloves on. Learned they get very, very hot when they are splitting out the gas (in Seattle). And also found out that bandanas really don’t help much to keep put the gas. Good times, good times….”