“My father deserves to be free.”


A Son’s Fight for His Father’s Freedom

Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz and Russell Shoatz III share how they built an unshakable relationship in spite of incarceration and separation

Russell Maroon Shoatz
Published in
10 min readOct 15, 2020


This article is part of Abolition for the People, a series brought to you by a partnership between Kaepernick Publishing and LEVEL, a Medium publication for and about the lives of Black and Brown men. The series, which comprises 30 essays and conversations over four weeks, points to the crucial conclusion that policing and prisons are not solutions for the issues and people the state deems social problems — and calls for a future that puts justice and the needs of the community first.

Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting LEVELMAN.com.

Russell “Maroon” Shoatz is an activist, writer, founding member of the Black Unity Council, former member of the Black Panther Party, and soldier in the Black Liberation Army. Incarcerated since 1972 and now 77 years old, Maroon is serving multiple life sentences in Pennsylvania as a U.S.-held political prisoner of war. After escaping prison twice, in 1977 and 1980, he earned the name Maroon from fellow incarcerated men, a nod to Africans who fled…