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 she
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? Assata
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 she
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.
Tell President Obama and Attorney General Holder hands off Assata—demand they:
Stop pressuring Cuba to hand over Assata
Revoke the $2 million bounty on her head
Direct the FBI to take her off their top ten “Most Wanted Terrorist” list
Remove Cuba from the state sponsor of terrorism list
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20500 202-456-1111 or send an email via the White House’s online form
ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER, U.S. Department of Justice, 950 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20530-0001 202-353-1555 or email AskDOJ@usdoj.gov
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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