Late last week, Assata Shakur was added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list, making her the first woman to be included in such a catalog. Formerly known as Joanne Chesimard, Shakur was a member of the Black Panther Party and later the Black Liberation Army, who was convicted of killing a New Jersey Trooper in 1973. Having long proclaimed her innocence, Shakur’s been harboring since the late 1970s, when she escaped from prison and received political asylum in Cuba.
In the wake of Shakur’s recent attachment to the FBI’s list –– whose warrant was doubled to $2 million –– political activist, scholar and Black Panther affiliate Angela Davis spoke on her behalf via daily independent global news medium, Democracy Now.
Well, first of all, it was a major shock to hear that Assata Shakur has become the first woman to be added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list and then to learn that they’re adding another million dollars to the reward, the bounty. Really, it seems to me that this act incorporates or reflects the very logic of terrorism. I can’t help but think that it’s designed to frighten people who are involved in struggles today. Forty years ago seems as if it were a long time ago, four decades; however, in the 21st century, at the beginning of the 21st century, we’re still fighting around the very same issues—police violence, healthcare, education, people in prison, and so forth. So I see this as an attack not so much on Assata herself, although of course she deserves to be brought home. She deserves to be able to live out her life, and with justice and peace. It was wonderful that you allowed people, through this program, to hear Assata’s words, because, 40 years later, people really don’t know the details of the case and are not aware of the extent to which she was targeted by the FBI by the COINTEL Program, as Lennox [Assata's lawyer] pointed out. And it’s amazing that in 2013, where she is living in Cuba as a political refugee, having given—having been given political asylum by Cuba, she is still pursued. And actually, this is an invitation for anyone to travel to Cuba illegally and to kidnap her and bring her back to the United States, if not shoot her dead. This is—as I said, was an extremely shocking revelation.
In response to Assata Shakur being a threat to the United States:
Assata is not a threat. If anything, this is a—this is a vendetta. She is innocent, and many of us have looked at the evidence. And as Lennox pointed out, there’s no way that she could have possibly been the person who killed Foerster, because she had her hands up and was shot in the back with her hands in the air and could not have used a gun at that time. And so, to represent her as a person who continues to be a threat to the U.S. government in the way that is described is, it seems to me, an effort to strike fear in the hearts of young people who would be active in the struggles that are represented historically by Assata and struggles that continue today. Struggles against police violence, for example, continue. The fact—consider the fact that so many people have been killed by the police in recent years. And I’m thinking about Kimani Gray in New York. I’m thinking about Alan Blueford in Oakland, of course Oscar Grant in Oakland. I’m thinking about—there’s some 63 people who were killed last year in Chicago by the Chicago police.
For details and Angela’s complete segment, peep the video up top and hit the 32:00 mark. Let us know what you think.