On the heels of President Obama announcing Wednesday the U.S. will participate in a prisoner swap with Cuba, New Jersey officials are demanding the return of Assata Shakur. USA Today is reporting Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R is calling on the White House to have Shakur extradited back to the U.S. to serve her life sentence for the murder of a New Jersey state trooper after the Obama administration also revealed plans to lighten the sanctions against Cuba.
To me, the New Jersey law enforcement community and many other Americans, one of the biggest impediments to improved relations between the United States and Cuba is the continued safe haven provided to the fugitive, Joanne Chesimard. I would demand that the White House and the State Department work much harder to bring this murderer ‘home’ to New Jersey where she can face justice and serve out her sentence
Shakur, born Joanne Chesimard was convicted of first degree murder for the 1973 New Jersey Turnpike shootout which left both State Trooper Werner Foerster and Zayd Shakur (no relation) dead. Shakur was riding in the car with Zayd and Sundiata Acoli when they were pulled over for a routine traffic stop, which resulted in the gun battle. Shakur and State Trooper James Harper were injured in the shooting. In 1977, Shakur, a member of the Black Liberation Army was convicted of murder and seven other felonies. Two years after her sentencing Shakur escaped from prison and made her way to Cuba five years later. Shakur became the first woman to be on the FBI’s most wanted terror list.
Justice Department spokesperson Brian Fallon echoed Frelinghuysen sentiments in an e-mail statement saying:
We will continue to press for the return of U.S. fugitives in Cuba to pursue justice for the victims of their crimes in our engagement with the Cuban government.
Many question Shakur, the aunt of the late Tupac Shakur’s role in the murder. At the time of the shooting, Shakur complied when officers ordered her to hold her hands up and wound up being shot multiple times unprovoked. During Shakur’s trial State Trooper Harper admitted under cross examination he lied to the grand jury about Shakur being the trigger woman of the shooting.