Sunday, May 24, 2009

Notes on Assata Shakur and Cuba: Will Obama Sell Her Out?

Notes on Assata Shakur and Cuba

The points in this commentary are quite well-taken, and every effort to tell the truth about sister Assata Shakur and how she came to live in exile in Cuba should be encouraged.

There's no good reason to assume that President Obama, who campaigned on the idea that Washington's blockade of Cuba should be maintained, can be trusted with the fate of Assata, but Obama's not the decisive player in this situation. Not by a long shot.

Pressure against normalizing relations are taking many forms, including the pressure on Obama to use Assata's presence as an exile in Cuba as an obstacle.

However, there's no reason to assume that the Cuban government, which wants and needs normalized relations with the United States, would sell Assata out in order to gain normal relations.

Walter Lippmann
Los Angeles, California


May 9, 2009

Will Obama sell Assata out?

by Paul Scott
Drawing of Political Exile Assata Shakur. Free Assata! Hands off Cuba!

Most Americans are not familiar with Assata Shakur. After all, she’s not exactly the type of Black superhero that they parade around during Black History Month. This is the type ignorance that some legislators in New Jersey hope will allow them to extradite Shakur back to the U.S. under the cover of our darkness.

Assata Shakur (JoAnne Chesimard) was involved in a 1973 shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that resulted in the deaths of fellow Black Liberation Army member Zayd Shakur and New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster. Shakur was sentenced to life in prison in 1977 but was broken out of prison by her comrades in 1979. She has been living under political asylum in Cuba since 1984.

She still remains on the FBI’s Most Wanted List with a million dollar reward for any snitch willing to give her up to the FEDS. (See the FBI’s Wanted poster for Assata at

However, with President Barack Obama seeking to open political channels with Cuba and ease U.S. restrictions, politicians in New Jersey have been turning up the heat on the Prez to make the Cuban government give up Shakur if they want to be in Uncle Sam’s good graces.

While the current headlines of “NJ to Press for Return of Cop Killer” would lead you to believe that Shakur is some heartless street thugstress that went around shootin’ up police stations just for kicks, the truth about the government repression by which groups like the Black Panther Party and its underground military arm, the Black Liberation Army, suffered has never really been told.

We cannot allow the media to even begin discussing Assata Shakur without putting her struggle in the context of COINTELPRO. The Counter Intelligence Program was an effort by J. Edgar Hoover’s Federal Bureau of Investigation and its associated agencies to destroy groups that dared stand against U.S. oppression.

It was under COINTELPRO that Black leadership suffered under “dirty tricks” that ranged from political assassinations (Chairman Fred Hampton) to smear campaigns which are too many to even begin to name here. Even the good Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was not immune to Hoover’s “dirty tricks.”

Could you really expect Assata Shakur to get a fair trail under such repressive policies?

According to the late civil rights attorney William Kuntsler in his book, “My Life as a Radical Lawyer,” a law enforcement agent told him that during Shakur’s trial ” a member of the New Jersey State Assembly had gone to the hotel where the jury was sequestered and talked to them about the necessity to convict.” In the book Kuntsler hints that even he underestimated the lengths that New Jersey law enforcement would go to get a conviction of Shakur.

Today, those same types of people are at it again. On April 17, New Jersey Sen. Sean King sent a letter to President Obama asking him to “delay normalizing relations with Cuba unless they agree to extradite convicted cop killer JoAnne Chesimard.”

(Read the letter at

Also, New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram has been quoted as saying, “Obama’s move to ease sanctions against Cuba is an opportunity to bring back Joanne Chesimard.”

Now, do I think that Obama would sacrifice Assata Shakur on the alter of “Democracy” for political expediency? You’re darn right!

To appease middle class white America, President Obama will throw Shakur under the same Greyhound that he threw Rev. Jeremiah Wright. That is, if we don’t raise our voices.

There are organizations that have been fighting to keep the plight of Assata Shakur in our faces for years. See especially

Black bloggers must start an immediate, emergency mass education campaign to tell the true story of Assata Shakur and COINTELPRO to combat the efforts of the miseducation of the mainstream media.

We must make sure that our local and national “urban” radio stations inform their listeners about this issue.

We must arm ourselves with information about Assata Shakur and COINTELPRO through websites, DVDs and books such as “Show Down” by the late Del Jones and “Racial Matters” and “Black America: The FBI Files” by Kenneth O’Reilly.

Finally, we must appeal to the Hip Hop artists who have the ears of the people to raise the issue if only for the reason of reppin’ for “Tupac’s kin folk.” (If that will motivate them to take action.)

If we do not raise this issue, loudly, Assata Shakur will be back in a U.S. prison or worse before she knows what hit her.

We owe this much to a sister who, as the rapper Common said in “A Song for Assata,” “went through all this … so we can be free.”

Paul Scott

Paul Scott writes for No Warning Shots Fired. He can be reached at or (919) 451-8283. Watch “A Song for Assata” at


karenlee said...

While I think it highly unlikely that the likelihood of US and Cuban negotiators reaching any agreement that would include sending political refugees to the other country (every country has the right to give political asylum to those they deem worthy of it; there is no extradition agreement between the two countries, and the US doesn't even honor ones they have, such as with Venezuela, and continues to openly harbor Cuba expatriate terrorists, without even putting them under the category of political asylum), but in any case this is a moot point because no one really knows whether Assata is still in Cuba. She hasn't been seen there in several years, even by those who saw her most regularly there (Cubans and visiting Americans) because the million-dollar bounty New Jersey put on her head (for capture dead or alive) made it necessary for her to go even more deeply underground for her protection. For US negotiators to make that a demand they would have to present credible evidence that she is currently there, which would be impossible. She could be anywhere in the world.

karenlee said...

in editing previous comment I inadvertently left in the phrase "that the likelihood of", which should have been deleted when I switched to "While I think it highly unlikely". Hopefully most readers can figure out what I was trying to say despite my bad editing.

Karen Roberts said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Karen Roberts said...

President George Bush: male Caucasian

Sister Queen Assata Shakur: female Black

Violent deaths attributed to President George Bush through June, 2009: 1,100,000 (one-million, one-hundred thousand)

Violent deaths attributed to Sister Queen Assata Shakur through today: ONE (according to all-white Jury, though medical examiners, forensics experts, etc., testifed it was “impossible” that she even HAD a weapon to shoot anyone)

Punishment meted out to President George Bush for murdering 1,100,000 men, women, children, babies, and fetuses: NONE

Punishment meted out to Sister Queen Assata Shakur for alledgedly murdering a police officer: Sentenced to a prison term of LIFE PLUS 33 YEARS (though she friends and followers and admirers [black and white] helped her break out of prison–she is still free).

Current U.S. legal status of President George Bush: clear

Current U.S. legal status of Sister Queen Assata Shakur: escaped convict; Wanted by FBI, which offers a $1 million reward for information leading to her capture; Granted political refugee status by Fidel Castro, of Cuba

Current salary of President George Bush: $161,000/yr. (This is his ex-President salary only, not other income.)

Current salary of Sister Queen Assata Shakur: $4,745/yr—approximately $13 a day from Cuban government

Legacy of President George Bush: Mass murder and genocide; Destruction of U.S. Economy; Despised by world government leaders; U.S. now hated even more than it was before.

Question: Who is the criminal??