Russell Maroon Shoatz
Born
Russell Shoatz

(1943-08-23)August 23, 1943
DiedDecember 17, 2021(2021-12-17) (aged 78)
NationalityAmerican
Other namesMaroon, The Implacable

Russell Shoatz (August 23, 1943 – December 17, 2021), also known as Maroon, was an American political activist, writer, and convicted murderer who was a founding member of the Black Unity Council, as well as a member of the Black Panther Party, and a "soldier" in the Black Liberation Army. In 1973, he was convicted in connection with the 1970 murder of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania police officer Frank Von Colln.[1]

Underlying conviction

In August 1970, Philadelphia Police Sergeant Frank Von Colln (aged 43 and a father of two) was ambushed and murdered while talking on the phone in the Cobbs Creek guard house at the corner of 63rd and Catherine streets in Philadelphia.[2] Von Colln was shot five times by members of a group known as the Revolutionaries after he had just dispatched two officers to investigate the shooting of another officer by members of the same group.[3] Two other officers were shot and wounded in the same 24-hour period.[4]

Arrest and prosecution

In January 1972, Russell Shoatz was arrested and charged in connection with Von Colln’s murder.[5] In 1973, after a trial by jury, Shoatz was convicted of first degree murder, assault and battery with intent to murder, aggravated robbery and conspiracy.[6] He was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole.[7] Four other suspects were also charged, convicted and sentenced to life in prison in connection with the murder of Von Colln.[8] In 1996 a sixth suspect was apprehended in Chicago and also charged, but was acquitted in 1999.[9]

Incarceration

Shoatz began serving his life sentence in 1973. In September 1977, Shoatz and several other inmates took over a cell block at Huntingdon State Correctional.[10]

Shoatz injured several guards with a knife, and, along with three other prisoners, attempted to escape from the prison. Two of the inmates were captured immediately and a third was killed during the escape. Shoatz remained at large until he was captured in October 1977.[11] Relocated to Fairview, a maximum security institution in Waymart, Pennsylvania, in 1980 Shoatz again escaped after another prisoner smuggled in a revolver and sub-machine gun. Three days later, a shoot out with state authorities ended in his capture.[12]

In June 1991, Shoatz was transferred to solitary confinement where he was held for more than 22 consecutive years until February 20, 2014, when he was returned to the prison's general population.[13]

The last dismissal of his legal counsel's appeal for his return to the regular prison population highlighted the fulcrum of the controversy:

In the volatile atmosphere of a prison, an inmate easily may constitute an unacceptable threat to the safety of other prisoners and guards even if he himself has committed no misconduct; rumor, reputation, and even more imponderable factors may suffice to spark potentially disastrous incidents. The judgment of prison officials in this context, like that of those making parole decisions, turns largely on purely subjective evaluations and on predictions of future behavior.[14]

Shoatz was granted compassionate release on October 26, 2021, after suffering from advanced colorectal cancer. He died less than two months later, on December 17, at the age of 78.[15]

Publications

References

  1. ^ Shoatz, Teresa (23 December 2011). "About: Russell Maroon Shoats". Free Russell Maroon Shoats! U.S. Prisoner of War. International Campaign to Free Russell Maroon Shoats. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  2. ^ "Sergeant Frank R. Von Colln". The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP). Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  3. ^ "Sergeant Frank R. Von Colln". The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP). Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  4. ^ "Sergeant Frank R. Von Colln". The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP). Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  5. ^ "Russell "Maroon" Shoatz | prisonersolidarity.com". prisonersolidarity.com. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  6. ^ "Commonwealth v. Shoatz". Justia Law. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  7. ^ "FindLaw's United States Third Circuit case and opinions". Findlaw. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  8. ^ "Sergeant Frank R. Von Colln". The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP). Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  9. ^ "Sergeant Frank R. Von Colln". The Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP). Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  10. ^ "FindLaw's United States Third Circuit case and opinions". Findlaw. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  11. ^ "FindLaw's United States Third Circuit case and opinions". Findlaw. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  12. ^ "FindLaw's United States Third Circuit case and opinions". Findlaw. Retrieved 2022-01-02.
  13. ^ "MEDIA RELEASE: Russell Maroon Shoatz released from solitary confinement – first time in general population in more than 22 years". Abolitionist Law Center. 2014-02-20. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  14. ^ "UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT No. 99-3603 RUSSELL SHOATS,Appellant v. MARTIN HORN, in his official capacity as the Commissioner of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections; PHILIP JOHNSON, in his official capacity as Superintendent of the State Correctional Institution at Greene". May 23, 2000. Archived from the original on 2000-07-07. Retrieved 2013-04-07.
  15. ^ Wright, Bruce C. T. (17 December 2021). "Russell 'Maroon' Shoatz, Former Black Liberation Army Soldier And Prison Abolitionist, Dies At 78". Newsone. Retrieved 18 December 2021.
  16. ^ Jacob Miller (7 April 2013). "Liberation or Gangsterism: Freedom or Slavery – By Russell Maroon Shoatz « Free Maroon!". Utmaroonformation.wordpress.com. Retrieved 2016-04-13.
  17. ^ Russell Maroon Shoatz; Quincy Saul; Fred Ho; Matt Meyer; Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge; Chuck D (2013). Maroon the Implacable: The Collected Writings of Russell Maroon Shoatz. PM Press. ISBN 9781604860597.

Lucas, A. (2021, September 15). The end of rage. Plough. Retrieved September 15, 2021, from https://www.plough.com/en/topics/justice/social-justice/criminal-justice/the-end-of-rage.