Sunday, October 12, 2008

Another Corporate Attack on Freedom Fighter Assata Shakur

While Cuba supporters are marking the day of the Heroic Guerrilla, the US propaganda apparatus is publishing yet another in its series of endless diatribes against Assata Shakur. Here is today's version.
WANTED: Cop Killer Joanne Chesimard Remains Out of Reach in Cuba

Wednesday, October 08, 2008
By Michelle Maskaly,2933,434581,00.html

This is a weekly series that profiles America's most wanted criminals.

To a few die-hard militants, Joanne Deborah Chesimard — aka Assata Shakur — is a courageous victim of a vast government conspiracy, a modern-day Harriet Tubman fighting for the rights of African-Americans.

But to American law enforcement, the 61-year-old New York City native is a cowardly, dangerous, cold-blooded cop killer who has been living openly and defiantly for nearly a quarter of a century in Cuba.

Chesimard, a member of the radical Black Liberation Army, has a prominent place on the FBI's Most Wanted list for the May 2, 1973, murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster.

But unlike most of the criminals on the FBI's list, authorities know exactly where she is — a point that has frustrated law enforcement for more than three decades.

"Ultimately, Cuba doesn't honor the extradition that has been in place since 1940," said Lt. Kevin Tormey, chief detective on the Chesimard case for the New Jersey State Police and a member of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark, N.J. "When Castro's administration came to power, they no longer honored it."

Chesimard, who is the godmother of slain hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur, has been heralded as a hero among some in the hip-hop community and political activist groups.

On her Web site, , Chesimard claims she is innocent.

"I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one," she says.

But authorities see things differently, and point to Foerster, the New Jersey state trooper who went to work on May 2, 1973, and never came home to his wife and kids.

Foerster and fellow trooper James Harper pulled Chesimard and two others over for a routine traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike about an hour south of New York City, unaware that the three were carrying semi-automatic handguns and fake identification.

Chesimard, 26 at the time, was already known by the FBI for her involvement in the Black Panther movement. She had changed her name to Shakur and was now a leader of the Black Liberation Army — one of the most violent militant black organizations of the 1970s. She was wanted in connection with a string of felonies, including bank robberies in New York.

Pulled over by the troopers, Chesimard, who was in the passenger seat, pulled out her semi-automatic pistol and fired the first shot. The passenger in the rear seat, James Coston, then fired multiple shots before he was killed by a bullet from Harper's gun. As Harper sought cover, Chesimard stepped out of the car and continuously fired at both him and Foerster, who was engaged in hand-to-hand combat with Clark Squire, the driver.

Foerster was shot in the abdomen and right arm. According to police accounts, Chesimard picked up Foerster's gun and put two bullets in his head, execution style, as he lay along the side of the turnpike. Authorities say her jammed handgun was found next to Foerster's body.

Chesimard, Coston and Squire fled and abandoned their car five miles down the road. It didn't take long for police to locate the car and Coston, who was found dead near the vehicle. A half hour after the shooting, state police arrested Chesimard. Squire was arrested a mile from the car about 40 hours after the incident.

Chesimard denied that she shot at anyone and claimed that the militant and cop-killer labels made her a target. But four years later, she was convicted of first-degree murder, assault and battery of a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to kill, illegal possession of a weapon and armed robbery.

Her supporters, however, believed she was framed. She received letters of support while awaiting trial and even released a radio address to her followers.

In a 1997 documentary about her, Chesimard painted herself has a political prisoner who was beaten in jail and treated like a slave while in the U.S., even comparing herself to Harriet Tubman, the runaway American slave who helped deliver dozens from bondage along the Underground Railroad.

On Nov. 2, 1979, Chesimard escaped from prison in New Jersey. Police believe a group of black and white domestic terrorists approached Chesimard while at a maximum security prison in West Virginia, but waited until she was transferred to a minimum security prison in New Jersey before plotting the escape.

Three members of the group who were visiting Chesimard ordered a corrections officer at gunpoint to open three gates that eventually led out of the prison. They escaped in a jail van.

Police say Chesimard was taken to a safehouse in East Orange, N.J., where she hid for five years. In 1984 she surfaced in Cuba, where she was granted political asylum.

Over the years, her legend has grown as her supporters continue to proclaim her innocence. Curious college students travel to Cuba to meet with her, family members send her goods, and she is paraded about during political events there. She reportedly has been pursuing a master's degree and living in a government-paid apartment in Havana.

All the while, U.S. authorities have been trying to bring her back to serve out her life sentence.

"We've tried everything you can think of," Tormey told "It's frustrating. Our goal isn't to combat that front [the Web sites and reports that claim she is innocent] as much as having her in a U.S. prison."

Jacuma Kambui, one of her supporters, told in a telephone interview, "I describe her as a mother, grandmother, auntie, sister, daughter, a regular person that became the victim of a wicked system."

Kambui, who refers to Chesimard as Shakur, described himself as one of 6,700 members of The Talking Draw Correctives — an organization of Web sites that try to promote the will of the African people.

"There are a lot of people convicted of crimes they never committed," Kambui said. "One of the reasons [I continue to support] Assata is because she resisted the system and put herself in harm's way."

But the FBI, which has placed a $1 million bounty on Chesimard's head, says she is a convicted cop killer and remains a threat to others. She is considered to be armed and dangerous.

And despite what's known about her whereabouts, authorities say they won't stop working to capture her.

"We will talk to anyone, anytime, anyplace," Tormey said.

Click here to view the FBI's Most Wanted poster on Chesimard.


Jacuma Kambui said...

Written by Evelyn A. Williams, dated June 25, 2005


Pour ceux parlant Français

As a member of Assata’s New Jersey trial legal defense team, and her appeal lawyer, I think a correct statement of the circumstances of New Jersey Trooper Werner Foerster’s death as established by exhibits, trial testimony and forensic evidence and that conclusively repudiate the revisionist lies now being advanced by the State of New Jersey as “fact”, need to be repeated.

It is be remember that the only surviving eyewitnesses to the NJ Turnpike shoot-out were (1) Sundiata Acoli, (2) Trooper Harper, (3) Assata and (4) the driver of a car traveling along the NJ Turnpike at the time of the incident. Zayd Malik Shakur, a passenger, was killed during the shootout.

1. Sundiata did not testify at trial, nor did he make any pre-trial statements.

2. Harper’s testimony and actions are contained in the following documents (admitted into evidence)

a. The three official investigative reports prepared by Harper, in which he wrote that after he stopped the Pontiac, he ordered Sundiata to the back of the car to show his driver’s license to Trooper Foerster who had arrived at the scene. That Sundiata complied without incident. That as he looked into the inside door of the Pontiac to check the registration, Foerster yelled at him and held up an ammunition clip. He stated that at the same time Assata reached into a red pocketbook, removed a gun from it and fired at him. That he immediately ran to the rear of his car and fired at Assata, who had emerged from the car, and was firing at him from a prostrate position alongside of the Pontiac. And it was at this point that he shot her. (admitted into evidence)

b. His Grand Jury testimony where he swore under oath to the truth of the statements he had made in his 3 official reports. (admitted into evidence)

c. Trial transcripts of his testimony at both Sundiata’s and Assata’s trials where he admitted, under cross-examination, that he had lied in all three of his official reports and in his Grand Jury testimony. That the truth was that Foerster had never shown him an ammunition clip; that Foerster had not yelled to him; that he had not seen a gun in Assata’s hand while she was seated in the car; that Assata did not shoot him from the car; and that he had not seen a red pocketbook.

d. Audio tapes of the official recorded NJ Turnpike radio communications between all NJ State Trooper cars traveling the Turnpike near the scene of the shoot-out, dated May 2, 1973, which revealed that two additional turnpike patrol cars, those driven by Trooper Robert Palenchar and Trooper Woerner Foerster, had been ordered to aid Harper at the stop prior to the shoot-out. (admitted into evidence)

e. The verbatim, hand-written record of what transpired inside the NJ Turnpike Administration Building when Harper entered it at or about 1AM on May 2, 1973, to report the shoot-out to Sergeant Chester Baginski who was in charge of maintaining the official record of turnpike occurrences on that (refereed to as the Station Bible). Harper reported that he had just been involved in a shoot-out after he had stopped a Pontiac containing three Black people, two men and a woman, that he had been wounded, and that the Pontiac was proceeding South on the turnpike. He gave the license plate number, but did not mention that Trooper Foerster had arrived at the scene. (admitted into evidence)

f. Audio tapes of the investigation conducted by Detective Sgt. First Class Richard H. Kelly in the Administration Building at 7:37AM that morning to determine why over an hour elapsed from the time Harper entered the Administration Building that night and the discovery of Foerster’s body. Statements by each of the troopers present when Harper came into the Administration Building revealed that Harper had not reported Foerster’s presence at the scene and that no one was aware of the fact that Foerster lay on the road beside his car in front of the Administration building for over an hour, when his body was accidentally discovered by Trooper O’Rourke who had left the Administration building to investigate the scene of the shoot-out, less than 200 yards away. (admitted into evidence)

3. Assata testified that Harper stopped the car without any known reason, shot her with her arms raised at his demand, and then shot her in the back as she was turning to avoid his bullets. Almost mortally wounded, and semi-conscious, she climbed into the backseat of the Pontiac to avoid further bullets. Sundiata drove the car five miles down the road and parked it, where she remained until State Troopers dragged her onto the road.

4. A driver traveling north along the turnpike at the time of the incident testified at trial that he had seen a State Trooper struggling with a Black man between a parked white vehicle and a State Trooper car whose overhead revolving lights lit up the area. He was unable to identify the Black man, and further stated that he saw no one else on the road or at the scene. He immediately reported what he had seen to New Jersey Police Headquarters.

It therefore remained only forensic evidence to help determine the facts of that night as much as they could be determined. The forensic evidence examined by both the New Jersey crime laboratory in Trenton, New Jersey and FBI crime laboratories in Washington, D.C. established the following:

1. The finger print analyses of every gun and every piece of ammunition found at the scene showed there were no fingerprints of Assata found on any of them. (The official analyses admitted into evidence)

2. Neutron Activation Analysis taken immediately after Assata was taken to the hospital that night showed there was no gun power residue on her hands. Effectively refuting the possibility that she had fired a gun. (The official analyses were admitted into evidence)

3. As a result of the bullet Harper shot under her armpit, while her arms were raised in, her median nerve was severed, immediately paralyzing her entire right arm, shattering her clavicle, and lodging in her chest so close to her heart that an operation to remove it was not feasible. A neurologist testified to that fact at the trial.

4. A pathologist testified that “There is no conceivable way that the bullet could have traveled over to the clavicle if her arm was down. That trajectory is impossible.”

5. A surgeon testified that “it was anatomically necessary that both arms be in the air for Ms. Chesimard to have received the wounds she did.”

The state offered no expert witnesses to refute this medical testimony.

6. Photographs depicting the gunshot entry wound under her armpit and the entry would of the bullet Harper shot into her back were admitted into evidence during the trial.

Therefore, since no evidence existed that proved Assata fired the bullet that killed Trooper Foerster, why was she found guilty of his murder? There are several explanations:

The first is that the climate of hatred, prejudice and racism that had so contaminated the Middlesex County jury pool in 1973 that a change of venue was ordered, continued to exist in 1977. The unanimous opinion of the 1973 jury pool was “If she’s Black, she’s guilty.” After three defense motions for change of venue, Judge Leon Gerofsky granted the motion, stating, “It was almost impossible to obtain a jury here comprised of people willing to accept the responsibility of impartiality so that defendants will be protected from transitory passion and prejudice.” The trial was then moved to Morris County where Assata’s trial was severed from Sundiata’s because of her pregnancy.

In 1977 Assata began trial for the second time in this same Middlesex County, and this time jury nullification was insured: The jurors chosen to determine Assata’s guilt or innocence consisted of five jurors who were either relatives or close personal friends of state troopers or of state law enforcement officers.

However, Assata was not convicted of firing the shot that killed Trooper Foerster. She was convicted as an accomplice to his murder under New Jersey’s “aiding and abetting” statute. Under New Jersey law, if a person’s presence at the scene of a crime can be construed as “aiding and abetting” the crime, that person can be convicted of the substantive crime itself. Judge Theodore Appleby charged the jury that they were permitted to speculate that Assata’s “mere presence” at a scene of violence, with weapons in the vehicle, was sufficient to sustain a conviction of the murder of Trooper Foerster. She was also convicted of possession of weapons – none of which could be identified as having been handled by her and of the attempted murder of Trooper Harper, who had sustained a flesh wound at the time of the shootout.

Now, 32 years after her conviction, a new, fabricated version of Foerster’s death has emerged:

There is absolutely no evidence to support statements made by Col. Joseph R. Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, who said that “It was later determined that Werner Foerster’s service weapon was ripped from his holster as he lay wounded on the pavement, and he was executed with two shots to the head from his own service weapon.”

But his motivation for making those statements is clear:

1. To justify Assata being placed on the domestic terror watch list along with Osama bin Ladin. He said, “Anyone with a mindset that would execute a police officer once they were on the ground is dangerous enough to be considered a domestic terrorism threat.” But Assata is the only person convicted of a single domestic crime who has been classified a terrorist and put on the terrorism watch list, thereby nullifying the very definition of “terrorism”

2. To justify the $1 million dollar bounty to be paid from tax payers money. He said, “The reward money should make Chesimard a much more attractive quarry for professional bounty hunters.”

New Jersey State Assembly Speaker, Albio Sires, a longtime member of CANF (Cuban American National Foundation, representing Cuban exiles), said: “If Cuba’s citizenry could be informed of the $1 million bounty and the real story of Chesimard’s crimes, there is an increased likelihood of her being brought to Justice…. We want the Cuban people to know the real story about Joanne Chesimard and not the deceptive representation advanced by the Castro regime. We want people to realize that she is not a hero and she is really a violent criminal who is wanted for killing a State Trooper and escaping justice.”

By falsely asserting that Assata shot Foerster in the head while he lay helplessly on the ground, killing him “execution style”, the US Justice Department hopes to strip Assata of any of the sympathy and political support she now receives in the United States and from the citizens of Cuba. By labeling her a cold-blooded cop killer, the hope is that the real circumstances of the NJ Turnpike as well as all the years prior to that event during which time Assata was relentlessly hunted with the stated purpose of killing her on sight for having committed crimes of which the government knew she was innocent, will be forgotten.

But even as official lies are now being manufactured to convert Assata into a terrorist, so that Cuba can be accused of “harboring a terrorist” and to justify kidnapping her, there are, in fact, two well-known and admitted, convicted terrorists who are now being given safe harbor in the United States.

The US government has refused to extradite admitted terrorist, Luis Posada Carriles, (charged with the shoot down of a Cuban airliner in 1976, killing 73 civilians and convicted of other terrorist acts including the Bay of Pigs). The US government has also refused to extradite Posada’s convicted fellow terrorist, Orlando Bosch, who escaped from Venezuela and came to Miami in 1987 with the assistance of the CANF, Jeb Bush and his father, the then US Attorney, Gonzalez, who personally approved the bounty, also approved prisoner torture at Abu Ghreb. Or that the approval came after New Jersey resident, Michael Chertoff, was named Secretary of the Department of Homeland Defense.

There are the facts. Let us not forget them.

- Evelyn A. Williams


Pour ceux parlant Français

sallreen said...

His political views and his views on social issues did not just 'pop' into his head. Through the links on this page maybe you can get a little insight to the 'root' thought process of Tupac.
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