Little Known Black History Fact: Russell ‘Maroon’ Shoatz

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Russell “Maroon” Shoatz  is a former Black Panther Party (BPP) member now serving two life sentences. Shoatz helped to found a revolutionist organization called the Black Unity Council in 1969. From August 1970 to January 1972, Shoatz was an active underground member of the Black Liberation Army, born from the BPP.

Then in 1970, Shoatz was convicted of murdering a police officer in Pennsylvania. He was part of an attack on a Philadelphia police station, leaving one officer dead. Seven years later, Shoatz escaped from a maximum security prison. He had stolen a gun from a prison guard, Dale Rhone, later abducting him and his 5-year-old son. Rhone’s family was found physically unharmed later, tied to a tree. It was reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette later that Shoatz had built a wooden barrier in the street, to hide himself from unsuspecting drivers, one of which he would take hostage.

He “lived on the land” for 27 days, finding food wherever he could. On October 11th, Shoatz took 27-year-old Calvin Reddings hostage, forcing him to drive him to a new location.

Shoatz was eventually located by his arresting officer, State Trooper Lawrence Szabo. The officer arrested Shoatz at gunpoint while standing on the hood of Redding’s car.

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