hands-off-assata

6

for angela and gloria and

assata and leila and

marsha and yuri and 

the countless unnamed

for the women I was taught not to remember

(a work in progress plz send suggestions this way)

A captured or dead Assata wouldn’t be just to silence her: It would be to silence us | AmericaWakieWakie

December 22nd, 2014

“For centuries, nothing has so stirred up American fury like the escape of a slave. That ain’t just distant history. For daring to slip her bonds and escape from brutal and unjust bondage, the Empire now labels her a terrorist. That’s because to them, nothing is more terrifying than resistance to their imperial will.”

— Mumia Abu-Jamal on Assata Shakur

When it comes to “capturing” “terrorists” or America’s political fugitives, the same litmus test applies: What makes less noise, a prisoner or a corpse?

With the United States and Cuba resuming diplomatic ties, there has been a lot of speculation about what will happen to Assata Shakur, a 67 year old black liberationist and political fugitive. Almost immediately after President Obama announced resurrecting ties between the two nations, the New Jersey State Police (NJSP) started scheming to get their hands on her.

According to the NJSP’s Facebook page, Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, issued the following statement:

“We continue to work closely with the FBI towards the capture of Joanne Chesimard [Assata Shakur], a convicted felon and fugitive who escaped from jail in 1979 and remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List, as well as New Jersey’s Most Wanted List. We view any changes in relations with Cuba as an opportunity to bring her back to the United States to finish her sentence for the murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. We stand by the reward money and hope that the total of two million dollars will prompt fresh information in the light of this altered international relationship.”

But of course that’s the state sponsored narrative of whom she is and why she is wanted by US authorities. This is the only propaganda you are supposed to unquestionably swallow as you rally behind the most racist nation in the world to go lynch yet another life in the name of “justice”.

In reality Assata was a prominent female member of the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army. She became a member of the Black Power movement at a time when many activists were galvanized following the assassination of Dr Martin Luther King Jr. And she experienced firsthand the authentic history of a nation built on genocide and slavery, something which stands in stark contrast to the whitewashed beacon of exceptionalism that mainstream America propagates today.

That experience was cemented as Shakur was targeted and framed by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program, a series of illegal practices and entities formed precisely for the purpose of domestic political repression.

As David Love elaborated in a recent article for the Grio:

“The baby of J. Edgar Hoover, COINTELPRO was designed to monitor, infiltrate and destroy social justice movements seen as a threat to national security, including civil rights and antiwar groups, the Black Power movement, [the American Indian Movement], and the Young Lords.  Some of the stated goals of the program in an FBI memo were to “prevent the coalition of militant black nationalist groups,” to “Prevent the RISE OF A ‘MESSIAH’ who could unify…the militant black nationalist movement,” to “Prevent militant black nationalist groups and leaders from gaining RESPECTABILITY, by discrediting them to…both the responsible community and to liberals who have vestiges of sympathy…,” and to “prevent the long-range GROWTH of militant black organizations, especially among youth.”

As a result, black leadership was decimated, either assassinated… or thrown in prison with the key thrown away.  Assata Shakur, who fled to Cuba, was the last woman standing, so to speak.  And apparently that is embarrassing to someone in the FBI, so they want to make an example of her as a so-called “domestic terrorist.”  That is why last year, 40 years after the shooting, the FBI made the politically-motivated move of placing Shakur on their Ten Most Wanted Terrorists list, making her the first woman and second U.S. citizen on that list.  If you listen to the FBI, you’d think the ten most dangerous people on Earth are essentially nine Al Qaeda operatives and—Assata Shakur.”

Yet still, to peoples struggling against American oppression she remains a prominent figure in the fight for liberation, and that’s the REAL problem. To put it how Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin might, a former political prisoner himself, the reason that the US government is still after Assata is not because they fear that she will engage in violence or to just punish her, but rather because they fear her effects upon the oppressed, who see in her the inspiration to fight — and more importantly, the strength to win.

Primarily it is for this reason that the US government is unlikely to seek extradition of Shakur. Further still, bringing her back stateside in the midst of a social movement like BlackLivesMatter, the likes of which has not mobilized since her last years in America, would only add fuel to the flame of public outrage over police terror in our communities.

There are more logistical reasons she is unlikely to be extradited anytime soon though.

These include, but are not limited to 1) because her (alleged) crime and acceptance into Cuba was political in nature she is not subject to extradition per the un-revoked 1905 extradition treaty between the US and Cuba; 2) if Shakur is a Cuban citizen, this would prevent extradition; 3) there are precedents for U.S.-friendly nations that have refused to extradite American fugitives who have fled the U.S. whom fear political repression upon returning; 4) it would take a decision by Obama or the DOJ to order it in the first place; and 5) any renegotiated treaty would have to go through the Senate first.

But if we know anything about the United States’ treatment of political dissidents, extraditions are low on the priority list.

There is a reason Osama bin Laden was brought back dead rather than alive. The U.S. government didn’t want to try him. They didn’t want bin Laden, a former partner of the CIA, to recall in intimate detail the U.S. sponsored terrorism in the Middle East that has killed millions. They didn’t want to remember that before the Taliban they funded, trained, and partnered with the Mujahideen and countless other militias in proxy wars with the USSR, devastating and destabilizing entire regions in the process. LEAST of all did the U.S. government want a lesson in historical accuracy to rally the victims of U.S. oppression around the fact that AmeriKKKa has never given a shit about brown bodies — not here, not anywhere.

Nope. They didn’t want any of that. What the U.S. government DID want was a trophy for U.S. imperialism. They wanted to hang a dead body in the public square. They wanted a dead body because dead bodies don’t talk.

This is why Fred Hampton never spoke again. Why Dr. King never spoke again. Why Malcolm X never spoke again. Why Huey P. Newton never spoke again. Why George Jackson, John Huggins, Bunchy Carter, Sylvester Bell, and so many others never spoke again. Any threat to the hegemony of AmeriKKKa’s narrative that it is the benevolent land of milk and honey — of democracy and freedom — MUST be dealt with.

It is why if we understand the current options available to the U.S. government, and if we remember its history, the danger of Assata’s U.S.-sponsored assassination is now more menacing than ever. AmeriKKKa doesn’t want to bring her to “trial”. That was done already and it was a farce. This government wants her shut up, out of sight, or dead. And a re-established U.S. embassy in Havana would make it that much easier. It would put agents of repression closer to Shakur than they may have ever been in the past 40 years.

So now is the time to renew our conviction to Hands Off Assata. Now is the time to remind our oppressive government that we are here, we are watching, and we will fight for Assata no matter where she is. This is the time to remember, in the powerful words of Dr. King, that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, because any effort to silence Assata Shakur is an effort to silence us.

(Photo Credit: RGB Store)

“Love is contraband in Hell,


cause love is a acid 
that eats away bars.

But you, me, and tomorrow


hold hands and make vows
that struggle will multiply

The hacksaw has two blades.

The shotgun has two barrels.

We are pregnant with freedom.

We are a conspiracy”

- assata shakur

3

On this first day of Black History Month 2014, I present to you all: Assata Olugbala Shakur.

She was born JoAnne Deborah Byron in Jamaica, Queens, NYC on July 16, 1947. For a certain period during her childhood, she ran away from home and lived with strangers until she was taken in by her aunt, Evelyn Williams, who later became her lawyer. Shakur was a high school drop-out, but later earned her GED with the help of her aunt. She attended Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and then the City College of New York (CCNY) in the mid-1960s, where she became heavily active politically and was involved in many protest, sit-ins and other activities.

Shakur was arrested for the first time in 1967 with 100 other BMCC students, on charges of trespassing. The students had chained and locked the entrance to a college building to protest the fact that the curriculum was deficient in black studies and that there was a lack of black faculty. She married Louis Chesimard, a fellow student-activist at CCNY, in April 1967, divorcing him in December 1970.

After graduation from CCNY at 23, Shakur became involved in the Black Panther Party (BPP), eventually becoming a leading member of the party’s Harlem branch.One of Shakur’s main activities with the Panthers was coordinating a school breakfast program. However, she soon left the BPP due to her claim of macho behavior of males within the organization. Shakur’s main criticism of the Black Panther Party was its alleged lack of focus on black history. Her commentary on this stance is below:

“The basic problem stemmed from the fact that the BPP had no systematic approach to political education. They were reading the Red Book but didn’t know who Harriet Tubman, Marcus Garvey, and Nat Turner were. They talked about intercommunalism but still really believed that the Civil War was fought to free the slaves. A whole lot of them barely understood any kind of history, Black, African or otherwise. […] That was the main reason many Party members, in my opinion, underestimated the need to unite with other Black organizations and to struggle around various community issues.”

That same year she changed her name to Assata Shakurand joined the Black Liberation Army (BLA), which was labeled in the United States as: “a radical and violent organization of black activists…whose primary objective (was) to fight for the independence and self-determination of Afrikan people in the United States.“ In 1971, she joined the Republic of New Afrika, which was an organization formed to create an independent black-majority nation composed of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

On May 2, 2013 the FBI and the New Jersey State Police announced that Shakur had become the first woman to be added to the agency’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists. Why? Because in 1977, Shakur, along with Zayd Malik Shakur (born James F. Costan) and Sundiata Acoli (born Clark Squire), was convicted of a slew of criminal charges, including the first degree murder of State Trooper Werner Forester, after a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike. (Previously, she had been unsuccessfully prosecuted in six other criminal cases, including bank robbery.) The Turnpike incident began when Forester and State Trooper James Harper pulled the car over for driving with a broken tail light. It is here that the details of how the shootout began diverge however this was the ultimate information: Trooper Harper admitted (while under cross-examination) to having lied in the reports he made and in his Grand Jury testimony about Trooper Forester yelling and showing him an ammunition magazine, about seeing Shakur holding a pocketbook or a gun inside the vehicle, and about Shakur shooting at him from the car. Harper retracted his previous statements and said that he had never seen Shakur with a gun and that she did not shoot him.

Despite all of this, Shakur was convicted for Forester’s murder, after which she was sentenced to life in prison. But on Nov. 2, 1979, she escaped, then turned up five years later in Cuba, where she has political asylum. The FBI’s listed reward for Shakur’s apprehension has very recently increased to $2 million.

Shakur has two published works: Assata: An Autobiography (written in 1987 in Cuba) and Still Black, Still Strong (1993). They are worth checking out. Educate yourselves. Shakur is no terrorist. I admire this example of a strong, intelligent, and brave black woman who stood her ground in the face of false accusations time and time again.

laugh.grow.change.[serendipity]

“ASSATA” by CECILE EMEKE

  • Assata Shakur (aunt of famous rapper tupac shakur) was a member of the black panther party, and like Angela Davis, the Angola three and many others was falsely imprisoned.
  • She has faced many false accusations from robbery to assault but her main charge was that of attempted murder of a state trooper.
  • It is a well known fact that police, especially in new jersey, regularly stop and harass/assault black people. This is what happened that night.
  • Despite ballistic and forensics evidence/experts proving it was scientifically impossible for her to have killed the man, she is still being witch-hunted until this day.
  • Assata was a victim of the COINTELPRO witch-hunts. However she along with many others is still a victim to this day as in May 2013 she became the first woman to be on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist’s list, offering $1 million for her.

  • Assata, like many others who have experienced the cruel prison industrial complex, suffered severe and inhumane punishment in prison; everything from beatings from guards/troopers, to refusing medical care, being put in men-only prisons, inhumane amounts of solitary confinement and unwarranted and humiliating vaginal/cavity searches.
  • Assata managed to escape from prison and now resides in Cuba as a political refugee.
  • Angela Davis and Nelson Mandela were previously on the FBI’s wanted lists however Assata is still on this list until this very day.
  • Other victims of COINTELPRO include Martin Luther King, Fred Hampton, Eldridge Cleaver and many, many more black activists.

Why Assta’s story is important:

  • It highlights the huge and systematic injustices happening within the prison industrial complex.
  • It highlights how black people are often harassed and framed by the US department of “Justice”
  • It highlights the fact that there are still victims of COINTELpro being hunted down today in 2014.

Often we hear stories and feel powerless to help, but I think hearing the song of people is the powerful first step. Hearing the songs that people sing through their stories is not only the absolute very least we can do as human beings but it is also the first necessary step before any action can even be imagined.

“Assata” I heard your song.

[T]o peoples struggling against American oppression [Assata Shakur] remains a prominent figure in the fight for liberation, and that’s the REAL problem. …[T]he reason that the US government is still after Assata is not because they fear that she will engage in violence or to just punish her, but rather because they fear her effects upon the oppressed, who see in her the inspiration to fight — and more importantly, the strength to win.

Assata Shakur is one of the strongest and most courageous black women you will ever read about. Assata meaning “she who struggles” and Shakur meaning “the thankful one” is a true warrior in the fight for black equality. At a very young age in the 1960’s, she participated in various struggles including the Black Liberation Movement, the Student Rights Movement, and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. As member of the Black Panther party, she fed thousands of black children every morning insisting that breakfast was the most important meal of the day. She, as a young teen, mentored many young black girls on the importance of natural hair and supporting black men. In 1973, she was falsely accused of shooting a state trooper on the NJ turnpike after medical evidence showed she clearly couldn’t have done the crime. She spent almost 7 years in prison in solitary confinement, suffering from brutal beatings from prison guards, severe malnourishment, and complete lack of medical attention. Through it all, she stood strong and with the help of the Black Panthers, was able to escape that hell.
While in prison she birthed a beautiful baby girl named Kakuya Shakur.

Today 40 years later, she is still being pursued by the FBI and recently was placed on the FBI’S “Most Wanted Terrorist” list. This is the same list the Taliban and OSAMA BIN LADEN were placed on. She is not only the first woman to be placed on the list, but the second person in history from the U.S to be placed on the list. The state of New Jersey also added $1 million to the FBI’s $1 million bounty on her head. They are offering $2 MILLION for her capture. Isn’t it crazy that New Jersey with all the problems it has can come up with $1 Million to place on Assata’s head? She was basically kidnapped by the police, sentenced to life in prison with no evidence, severely beaten on the regular, starved almost to death then she is able to finally escape the torture and now she’s the terrorist? Anyway, she is a phenomenal poet and if you get the chance read her autobiography. It’ll change your life. The fact that they are still chasing her and offering so much money shows that they are afraid of what she symbolizes. Assata is an inspiration to us all and shows us how important it is to be able to stand on your own two feet. Stand for something or Fall for anything. Strong, Black Woman I Salute your Existence!!!!!

“Freedom! You askin me about freedom?! Askin me about freedom? I’ll be honest with you. I know a whole lot more about what freedom isn’t than about what it is, cause I’ve never been free. I can only share my vision with you of the future, about what freedom is. Uhh, the way I see it, freedom is the right to grow, is the right to blossom. Freedom is the right to be yourself, to be who you are, to be who you wanna be, to do what you wanna do.” Assata Shakur

Post by @KingKwajo