Tag Archives: Russell Maroon Shoatz

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.

AN ONGOING COST TO BE FREE

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.

SACRIFICE WITHOUT HESITATION

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.

JOHN PENLEY: ANARCHO-YIPPIE

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

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MACHETERO The 1st APOC Film


La (A) por Amor Y Anarquia - Not4Prophet, vagabond, Resister & Kelvin in Puerto Rico during the MACHETERO shoot
La (A) por Amor Y Anarquia – Not4Prophet, vagabond, Resister & Kelvin in Puerto Rico during the MACHETERO shoot

“Behold your executioners…” – Lucy Parsons

“The only authority is anti-authority.” -from The Anti-manifesto: A Mini Manual For The Modern Day Machetero 

When the idea to create MACHETERO came to me the first thing I wanted to do was tap into the righteous rage that simmers just below the surface of each of us who feel the indignation of an unjust system. I wanted to reclaim the fury that since birth we’ve always been told we have no right to have… I wanted to own that anger so that it could be shaped into action and that action would bring about change.

“Let Fury Have the hour
Anger can be power
Do you know you can use it?”
– The Clash

These authoritative power structures have ingrained this rage, this fury and this anger in an effort to give us the tools to destroy ourselves. It’s the fear instilled in us from the system, the intimidation from the powers that be, the retribution of authority that keeps us from completely owning the rage, the fury and the anger that when focused and used correctly has the power to set us free.

“The nature of your oppression
Is the aesthetic of our anger.”
– Crass

The character of Pedro Taino (played by Not4Prophet) was someone who owned his rage and used it as a tool to destroy the very things that were trying to destroy him and his people. The ownership of that rage is something that i saw in Puerto Rican freedom fighters like Dylcia Pagan, Filiberto Ojeda Rios, Oscar Lopez Rivera, and Lolita Lebron. i also saw it in the struggles of other people like Kuwasi Balagoon the Black Liberation Army member turned anarchist, Russel Schoatz, a Black Liberation Army soldier, Leonard Peltier the Native American warrior and radical David Gilbert of the Weather Underground. They are all or were US held political prisoners and prisoners of war. It was the real life experiences of these people and others like them that grounded a character like Pedro Taino. It’s Pedro’s acceptance of his rage that sets him on a path to freedom. Without the fear of retribution from those who claim authority over him, he dispels the illusion of power that these powers structures have created and that so many of us have accepted as being real.

“Step aside and i and i will rise.”- RICANSTRUCTION

Pedro Taino is a true revolutionary in that he is creating his own reality, shaping the world into his own vision without permission, approval or validation from the existing power structures, forcing those power structures to deal with him in the most uncreative and unimaginative way possible, by imprisoning him. Placing Pedro in prison and having him talk about freedom created a dialectic that made for interesting cinema. It created a conflict of ideas that would pull the audience in. The 1st question in the film asked to Pedro by Jean Dumont the journalist (played by Issach de Bankolé) embodies this whole conflict…

“Do you find it strange that in your struggle for freedom you find yourself in prison?”
Pedro’s answers…
“No. Just because they’re aren’t any bars on the windows or locks on the doors or guards at the gates doesn’t mean you aren’t in prison.”

Pedro believes in a freedom that will allow him to control his own life without the interference of the self-serving political or authoritative forces that exert power over people’s lives. In his search for his own personal autonomy Pedro realizes that his freedom is tied up with the freedom of his people. Pedro’s then expands his personal sphere of autonomy to encompass the autonomy of his country and the colonial condition it suffers under. This ideology is made clear in the last line of the introduction to the Anti-manifesto, a guidebook that Pedro writes on how to be Machetero.

“The only authority is anti-authority.”
– Pedro Taino

It’s this strong desire for freedom at any cost and his anti-authoritarian approach to achieve that freedom that makes Pedro an APOC (Anarchist or Anti-authoritarian or Autonomous Person Of Color). APOC is a means to deal with the issues that people of color face within a framework that stresses anarchist, anti-authoritarian, or autonomous solutions. Pedro has had to deal with an authority that is designed for the pleasure and benefit of itself. Within that search for freedom Pedro realizes that he’s not the only one and it’s this realization that politicizes his actions and it’s in his actions that he begins to own the rage and the frustration and the fury that will sets him free.

“Wanting to be free, is to begin being free.”
– Betances

However MACHETERO isn’t just an APOC film because the characters in it are APOC. MACHETERO is an APOC film because it was made by APOC’s. i identify as an APOC, Not4Prophet who played the role of Pedro Taino identifies as APOC. RICANSTRUCTION the band whose songs are featured prominently in the film are APOC. If a film is a reflection of those that made it then how could MACHETERO be anything other than APOC?

MACHETERO opens in New York City for a one week limited theatrical run.

WED. JUNE 12TH – TUES JUNE 19TH
CLEMENTE SOTO VELEZ
KABAYITO’S THEATER (2ND FLOOR)
107 SUFFOLK STREET
NY NY 10002
(BTWN RIVINGTON & DELANCEY)

TICKETS $10 http://machetero.bpt.me
SCREENING TIMES • 1PM • 3PM • 5PM • 7PM • 9PM
F Train to Delancey Street or J , M , or Z Trains to Essex Street.
Walk to Suffolk Street, make a left.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-158

An Ongoing Cost To Be Free (Part 11)


Free Maroon Now
Free Maroon Now!

Russell Maroon Shoatz is a US held Black Unity Council and Black Liberation Army political prisoner. He has been in prison for over 40 years. This short film is part nine of a weekly web series of Russell Shoatz III the son of Russell Maroon Shoatz, telling the story of his father.

Working With Hope
In this concluding episode Russell Shoatz talks about his father Russell Maroon Shoatz being a kind of convergence point between ecology based struggles and his own. Russell talks about how ecology based activists reached out to his father and connected their struggle with his. It has a profound affect on Russell Maroon Shoatz. Russell the son also speaks about the work he’s done to free his father and how his father believes that he will one day be free.

Russell Maroon Shoatz has written extensively while in prison, these writings have been distributed around the world. These writings have been collected in a new book Maroon The Implacable and published by PM Press. To order the book go to pmpress.org. There is an ongoing campaign to try to free Russell to get more information or to join the campaign follow @RussellMShoatz or like Russell Maroon Shoatz on Facebook and check out some of Russell’s writings on his blog russellmaroonshoats.wordpress.com.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-10p

An Ongoing Cost To Be Free (Part 10)


Maroon by vagabond ©
Maroon by vagabond ©

Russell Maroon Shoatz is a US held Black Unity Council and Black Liberation Army political prisoner. He has been in prison for over 40 years. This short film is part nine of a weekly web series of Russell Shoatz III the son of Russell Maroon Shoatz, telling the story of his father.

In this episode Russell Shoatz talks about the strength and support that his father Russell Maroon Shoatz showed as he tries to build a relationship with his estranged daughter who was kidnapped and kept from the family for almost 30 years. The burden of responsibility that Maroon must shoulder knowing that she was kidnapped because he was in prison is something Maroon personally struggles with as he tries to get to know his long-lost daughter. Maroon is forced to evolve yet again from behind prison walls, not into the warrior he felt was required to be when he was put in prison but as the warrior he must be for his daughter and his family to try to heal the deep wounds that he, his daughter and his family bear.

Russell Maroon Shoatz has written extensively while in prison, these writings have been distributed around the world. These writings have been collected in a new book Maroon The Implacable and published by PM Press. To order the book go to pmpress.org. There is an ongoing campaign to try to free Russell to get more information or to join the campaign follow @RussellMShoatz or like Russell Maroon Shoatz on Facebook and check out some of Russell’s writings on his blog russellmaroonshoats.wordpress.com. And stay tuned for the next installment in this compelling story next week.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-103

An Ongoing Cost To Be Free (Part 9)


Maroon by vagabond ©
Maroon by vagabond ©

Russell Maroon Shoatz is a US held Black Unity Council and Black Liberation Army political prisoner. He has been in prison for over 40 years. This short film is part nine of a weekly web series of Russell Shoatz III the son of Russell Maroon Shoatz, telling the story of his father.

HAUNTED PAST
In last weeks episode Russell Shoatz III spoke about finding his lost sister who was kidnapped by his mother’s best friend shortly after his father Russell Maroon Shoatz was imprisoned. In this episode Russell Shoatz talks about the impact that it had on both his mother and his father. Russell  also talks about how his father dealt with his long-lost daughter from prison with an uncommon strength, compassion and love that is nothing less than heroic. What’s also heroic is Russell Maroon Shoatz ability to deal with the decisions he’s made throughout his life and the seemingly constant fallout that continues to haunt him in ways he could have never imagined when he first decide to become a soldier for freedom.

Russell Maroon Shoatz has written extensively while in prison, these writings have been distributed around the world. These writings have been collected in a new book Maroon The Implacable and published by PM Press. To order the book go to pmpress.org. There is an ongoing campaign to try to free Russell to get more information or to join the campaign follow @RussellMShoatz or like Russell Maroon Shoatz on Facebook and check out some of Russell’s writings on his blog russellmaroonshoats.wordpress.com. And stay tuned for the next installment in this compelling story next week.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-Za

An Ongoing Cost To Be Free (Part 8)


Maroon by vagabond ©
Maroon by vagabond ©

Russell Maroon Shoatz is a US held Black Unity Council and Black Liberation Army political prisoner. He has been in prison for over 40 years. This short film is part eight of a weekly web series of Russell Shoatz III the son of Russell Maroon Shoatz, telling the story of his father.

PRODIGAL DAUGHTER
In this weeks episode Russell Shoatz III speaks about the return of his kidnapped sister and how it affected not only his father in prison but his mother as well. For almost 30 years Russell Maroon Shoatz lived in prison with the idea that his daughter was gone to him. When she finally returns to his it’s with mixed feelings of happiness, loss and many, many questions not just for Russell Maroon Shoatz and the rest of the Shoatz family but for the prodigal daughter as well.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-Y7

An Ongoing Cost To Be Free (Part 7)


Maroon by vagabond ©
Maroon by vagabond ©

Russell Maroon Shoatz is a US held Black Unity Council and Black Liberation Army political prisoner. He has been in prison for over 40 years. This short film is part six of a weekly web series of Russell Shoatz III the son of Russell Maroon Shoatz, telling the story of his father.

THE LOST SISTER
In this episode Russell Shoatz talks about the kidnapping of his baby sister by his mother’s best friend. Shortly after Russell Maroon Shoatz is captured and incarcerated his mother decides to take the family including her newborn daughter to Virginia to get away from the media scrutiny and stress surrounding her husbands case. Her girlfriend goes with her to Virginia to “help” with the four children but kidnaps Russell’s sister at the first opportunity. Russell grows up thinking he’s the youngest until decades later he meets his long-lost sister. All the while that this is happening Russell Maroon Shoatz is in prison forced to endure the kidnapping of his child and the inability to do anything about it…

Russell Maroon Shoatz has written extensively while in prison, these writings have been distributed around the world. These writings have been collected in a new book Maroon The Implacable and published by PM Press. To order the book go to pmpress.org. There is an ongoing campaign to try to free Russell to get more information or to join the campaign follow @RussellMShoatz or like Russell Maroon Shoatz on Facebook and check out some of Russell’s writings on his blog russellmaroonshoats.wordpress.com. And stay tuned for the next installment in this compelling story next week.

Shortlink: http://wp.me/p1eniL-Xn