Please tell President Obama
and Attorney General Eric Holder
to stop trying to extradite Assata Shakur, an African American freedom fighter who is living in exile in Cuba.
The U.S. government is using negotiations with Cuba as an opportunity
to go after Shakur. Roberta Jacobson, lead U.S. negotiator, testified at
a recent congressional committee meeting that she raises Shakur every time
talks with Cuban officials. Jacobson declared that the return of
“fugitives" is one of the Obama administration's priorities.
Cuba has said they will not revoke Assata’s political asylum. But those of us in the U.S. need to defend Assata and demand our government immediately cease its efforts. Who is Assata Shakur?
was a member of the Black Panther Party and leader in the Black
Liberation Army in the early ‘70s. She was targeted by the FBI’sCOINTELPRO
which is infamous for persecuting Black, Native American and radical
activists. In 1977, Shakur was convicted on framed-up murder charges
for the death of one of her comrades and a New Jersey State Trooper. She
eventually escaped prison and in 1984 fled to Cuba.
Women members met with Assata in Cuba in 1997. She is a warm,
compassionate, and fierce force against racial injustice, police
brutality, and poverty.
In a 1998 Open Letter from Assata
states, “I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government
persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the
political repression, racism and violence that dominate the U.S.
government’s policy towards people of color… Black people, poor people
in the U.S. have no real freedom of speech, no real freedom of
expression and very little freedom of the press…Our young people deserve
a future, and I consider it the mandate of my ancestors to be part of
the struggle to insure that they have one.”
Shakur is not a
terrorist. This 67-year old grandmother is an inspiration. And that is
why the U.S. wants to discredit and jail her. They want to paint
courageous organizing for equality as criminal, and send a chilling
message to people currently mobilizing against police brutality.
In 2013, decades after her supposed crime, the FBI placed Shakur on
their top ten Most Wanted Terrorist list and the Department of Justice
upped the bounty on her head to $2 million. Now the State Department
harasses Cuba to hand her over.
U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001
Shakur deserves our vigorous defense. And by standing up for her we
take a stand against criminalizing dissent and for the right to foment
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