As a member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army, Assata Shakur, formerly Joanne Deborah Chesimard is the definition of falsely accused. The history-making activist’s life may have continued in Cuba since her heroic escape from prison, but it seems that Shakur is still a prisoner. The FBI has decided to place 65-year-old Assata on their Most Wanted Terrorists List! And get this–they’re “honored” to do so–specifically FBI Special Agent in Charge in Newark, NJ. (Is that a real title? I digress…)
In 1973, while driving on the NJ Turnpike, police pulled Assata, Zayd Shakur and Sundiata Acoli over for a faulty taillight. Shortly after being pulled over, a shootout claimed the lives of Zayd Shakur and officer Werner Foerster.
At the time of the shooting, Assata did what she was told and held her hands high, but was still shot multiple times. And even though the other officer claimed to have shot Zayd and there’s no physical way possible that Assata could have shot anyone, she was still convicted and placed in jail while the powers that be attempted to pin six other crimes on her.
“I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the U.S. government’s policy towards people of color. I was convicted by—I don’t even want to call it a trial, it was lynching, by an all-white jury. I had nothing but contempt for the system of justice under which I was tried.”
And flee she did. In 1979, Assata escaped from prison and made her way to Cuba, where she’s received political asylum and has been living ever since.
However, Assata hasn’t been living peacefully. Now, over 30 years later, Assata’s infamous name continues to be slung through the mud. The FBI has placed Assata on their list of Most Wanted Terrorists. You’ve got to be kidding me! 65-year-old Assata Shakur–a woman who was charged for a crime she never committed is now a terrorist 30 plus years after she was charged for her alleged crimes. That makes all the sense in the world.
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The reward for Assata’s capture has now doubled to $2 million. “We want her to come back here and face justice and serve out her sentence,” New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa said. That’s not all they want. They want the small amount of freedom Assata has left. New Jersey State Police Colonel Rick Fuentes is claiming that Assata is “flaunting her freedom.”
NewsOne’s Kirsten West-Savali may have said it best, regarding Assata making the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists List:
“It speaks to the hypocrisy of the United States that there are police officers who have not only killed unarmed, innocent people, but are roaming free and lauded for their bravery. Based on the criteria, there are certain police departments who should be characterized as domestic terror cells. But instead, the FBI is going after a 65-year-old revolutionary who isn’t even guilty and — by international law — has the right to seek political asylum.
It is amazing — and pathetic — how swiftly the FBI felt compelled to frame the domestic terrorism conversation around a Black revolutionary living in Cuba, instead of two White men from Boston. Timing is everything — and the timing of this travesty of justice speaks volumes.
Join us on this Hands Off Assata Shakur movement!
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