Assata Shakur was a member of the Black Panther Party who, like many other Black activists in the 60s and 70s, became a target of COINTELPRO. As part of the FBI’s campaign against the Black Panther Party, Assata was falsely accused of bank robberies and other crimes up and down the East Coast in the early 1970s. Her real “crime” was fighting for the liberation of Black people and other oppressed peoples from racist oppression.
After she was acquitted six different times on May 2, 1973, Assata, Sundiata Acoli and Zayd Malik Shakur were ambushed by state police on the New Jersey turnpike. A state trooper shot Assata in the arm and back as she had her hands in the air. Another trooper was killed. Zayd Malik Shakur was killed. Sundiata escaped and was later captured after a massive police manhunt.
After her arrest, Assata was shackled and chained to her hospital bed as the police guarding her shouted racist slogans, beat her with shotgun butts and threatened to kill her.
One of the state troopers admitted that he shot and killed Zayd Malik Shakur. But Assata was charged with the killing of Zayd–who she described as her “closest friend and comrade”–as well as with the death of the trooper. Sundiata Acoli was also charged with both deaths. No evidence linked either of them to the shooting of the state trooper. Defense testimony from several expert witnesses made it clear that Assata was not involved in the shooting. Nevertheless, in 1977 an all-white jury convicted Assata and sentenced her to life plus 33 years in prison. Sundiata was sentenced to life plus 30 years. He remains a political prisoner today.
Assata Shakur escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba, where she lives today in political exile. The United States government has offered a $1 million bounty for her capture.
Note: The bounty was recently changed to $2,000,000 USD. And since the U.S. and Cuba just agreed on easing relations NJPD has already made it expressly clear that they plan on using this as a chance to capture her and answer (or be executed) for crimes she never committed.