Tag Archives: An Ongoing Cost To Be Free

2013 A Record of Rebellion

In an effort to catalogue my creative output over the past year i’m posting the various projects that came to fruition in 2013. i produced, directed and edited three documentary web series. The idea for these web series came about when i wanted to create a record of a history that i felt wasn’t being recorded for future generations. i wanted to create a record of rebels and their rebellions and hear it from those who had to live through it. More of these histories in the form of web series are coming in 2014.

For the few folks out there who appreciate watching things longer than 5 minutes online i have compiled each of the web series into single videos. If you want to see the original web series as they were released you can click on the links to be connected to the complete series.


The first one was An On Going Cost To Be Free, an 11-part series on current US held Black Unity Council & Black Liberation Army political prisoner Russell Maroon Shoatz who has been in prison for over 40 years. He’s served over 20 years of that time in isolation where the lights in his cell are never turned off and he’s allowed one hour of exercise a day in another small cage. i interviewed his son Russell Shoatz III initially to get the perspective of what it must be like to have grown up with your father as a political prisoner. The interview became larger in scope and became the detailed story of Russell Maroon Shoatz and his incredible strength through the trials and tribulations of his imprisonment.


The second web series was Sacrifice Without Hesitation a five-part series on Luis Rosa a former US held Puerto Rican political prisoner of war who served 20 years in US prisons. Luis was a member of the FALN Fuerzas Armadas de Liberacion Nacional (Armed Forces of National Liberation) a clandestine armed organization that fought to free Puerto Rico from US colonialism. In 1999 Luis was pardoned by then President Clinton. In Sacrifice Without Hesitation he tells his story of how he became politicized, his arrest, his imprisonment and subsequent freedom.


The third web series was John Penley: Anarcho-Yippie a six-part series on my friend John Penley. John was a freelance photojournalist who documented NYC’s Lower East Side counter-culture movement for two decades. He donated his archive of 30,000 images to NYU’s Tamiment Library. After losing his job and his home he joined the Occupy movement and lived on the streets protesting. In the winter of 2013 he decide to protest NYU’s rampant expansion plans that are accelerating gentrification. During the day he worked on his archive at the library and at night slept outside of the library on the sidewalk by night in the cold, wet and snow while the archive he donated to their library was safe, warm and dry. i spoke to John about his life, his work, his politics, his protest with NYU and NYC’s larger gentrification issues and his unique point of view on the future.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-1go


An Ongoing Cost To Be Free (Part One)

Maroon by vagabond ©
Maroon by vagabond ©

i have been working for a while on a new web series documentary about Black Unity Council co-founder, Black Panther Party member and Black Liberation Army soldier Russell Maroon Shoatz. He has been a US held political prisoner for over 40 years. i’ve been friends with his son Russell Shoatz for about over ten years now. i first met Russell when i was working with the NYC based Puerto Rican hardcore punk band RICANSTRUCTION. Russell reached out to RICANSTRUCTION to play a benefit for his dad at a punk squat in the Lower East Side of Manhattan called ABCNORIO. We accepted and have been good friends since then.

Not much is known about Russell Maroon Shoatz and i set out to try to see what i could do about that by interviewing Russell Shoatz (the son) about his dad. i went down to Philadelphia thinking i would get a quick 15 minute video interview that could serve as an introduction to Russell Maroon Shoatz and his struggle to get out of prison. What we ended up with is the incredible story of how Russell Maroon Shoatz became a political prisoner and how that affected his family. It would be unbelievable if it weren’t true. The quick 15 minute interview turned into a multi-part web series and this is part one. Over the next few weeks other parts of the story of Russell Maroon Shoatz will be released… It’s an amazing story of strength, love and sacrifice…

In Part One of An Ongoing Cost To Be Free the social and political backdrop of the 60’s and 70’s is set. Black people in America are subject to constant suspicion, abuse, beatings and even murder by the police. Russell Maroon Shoatz is not someone who can stand idly by and let it go on unanswered. He gathers with other like minded men and women in the Black community to take a stand. When a young teenager is shot and killed in front of his mother by the police. A group of Black men decide to retaliate and Russell is among them. A police officer is shot and killed and Russell is forced to go on the run and live a life in clandestinity.

Join the campaign to help free Russell Maroon Shoatz… Check out Russell’s blog on WordPress… www.russellmaroonshoats.wordpress.com. Follow Russell on Twitter @RussellMShoatz and connect on Facebook @ Russell Maroon Shoats. Or write to Russell directly at…

Russell Maroon Shoatz
SCI Greene Pennsylvania
175 Progress Dr
Waynesburg Pa.15370

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-Vi