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Assata Main Page

REPORT ON 10/5/98 DAY OF OUTRAGE
FOR ASSATA SHAKUR

Statement from Sundiata Acoli for Oct 5, 10/1998

Maxine Waters changes her vote, writes to President Castro, 9/1998

Oct 5: Assata Demo Day, target: CBC, 1998

Full text of the Congressional Resolution, 9/1998

Petition to the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), 9/1998

Analysis of the Congressional Black Caucus' vote

Letter to Maxine Waters from Sundiata attorney, 1998

Response from the Center for Constitutional Rights

Republican Bob Franks (NJ) sponsors bill on Assata: May 1, 1998

Poem on Assata by Comrade Askia M. Touré: April, 1998

Open letter from Assata: March, 1998

Assata TV Lynching: February, 1998

Assata's letter to the Pope: January, 1998

NJ State Police ask Pope to bring back Assata: December 1997

Congress asks for Assata's Extradition - September 14, 1998

In a display of ignorance and prejudice, Congress voted (no dissenting votes) for a resolution to ask Cuba for Assata's extradition.  The full text of the resolution is available below, as is that of a  response from the Center for Constitutional Right, which points out that this resolution is in fact illegal under current treaty and law.  You can cut and paste from several responses available below and email it or print it out and fax it to your elected representatives.  For email, see the handy Congressional email service where you can look up members by zip code as well as look up by name.

The Congressional Black Caucus was asleep at the switch on this one, with 23 members voting against Assata and 13 not voting, which is hardly different.  Maxinne Waters voted against, but then said she did not know who Joanne Chesimard (Assata's pre-Panther name) was. There is an excellent open letter to Rep. Maxine Waters from one of Sundiata Acoli's attorney's, Joan P. Gibbs.   In addition, Black Autonomy, Afrikan Frontline Network, International Concerned Family and Friends of  Mumia Abu-Jamal, DC Chapter, REAL JUSTICE!, M'Backe House of Hope, Black Information Television, DE, Million Man March LOC, DE have called for a day of demonstration Oct 5 targetting the CBC on Capitol Hill and at the offices of CBC members in their districts. A petition is being circulated for presentation to the CBC.


Bibliography on Assata Shakur

Handy Congress email service - express your outrage

New Jersey and the Nazis, 8/1998

Text of the Congressional Resolutiontop

Archive-Name: gov/us/fed/congress/record/1998/sep/14/1998CRH7653
[Congressional Record: September 14, 1998 (House)]
                           {time}  1330
 CALLING ON GOVERNMENT OF CUBA TO EXTRADITE JOANNE CHESIMARD TO UNITED
                                 STATES
  Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and agree to
the concurrent resolution (H. Con. Res. 254) calling on the Government
of Cuba to return to the United States convicted felon Joanne Chesimard
and all other individuals who have fled the United States to avoid
prosecution or confinement for criminal offenses and who are currently
living freely in Cuba, as amended.
  The Clerk read as follows:
                            H. Con. Res. 254
       Whereas on May 2, 1973, Joanne Chesimard and 2 friends were
     stopped in their vehicle by New Jersey State Troopers James
     Harper and Werner Foerster on the New Jersey Turnpike;
       Whereas while being questioned, Ms. Chesimard and the
     driver opened fire with automatic pistols striking Trooper
     Werner Foerster twice in the chest and Trooper James Harper
     in the left shoulder;
       Whereas the suspects then turned Trooper Foerster's own
     weapon on him firing an additional two bullets into his head
     execution style;
       Whereas this heinous and premeditated act resulted in the
     tragic death of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster;
       Whereas Trooper Foerster left behind a wife, Rose Foerster,
     and family;
       Whereas in 1977, after a 6 week trial, a jury found Ms.
     Chesimard guilty of first-degree murder for the slaying of
     Trooper Foerster, a respected New Jersey State Trooper;
       Whereas as a result of this conviction Ms. Chesimard was
     sentenced to life in a New Jersey State prison;
       Whereas in 1979, Ms. Chesimard broke free from a maximum
     security cell at the Reformatory for Women in Clinton, New
     Jersey, with the help of 4 men who took a guard and prison
     van driver hostage;
       Whereas after escaping prison, Ms. Chesimard fled to Cuba
     for political asylum;
       Whereas the Federal Bureau of Investigation lists 77 felony
     fugitives known to have been granted safe haven by the Cuban
     Government, including Robert Vesco, Frank Terpil, and Victor
     Gerena, wanted for, or convicted of, violent crimes,
     including murder, robbery, kidnapping, air piracy, and
     terrorism;
       Whereas these individuals have been indicted or convicted
     of criminal offenses in the United States and have not paid
     their debt to society;
       Whereas people in New Jersey were shocked and outraged to
     see television interviews showing Ms. Chesimard living freely
     in Cuba, portraying herself as the victim and denying any
     crimes against Trooper Foerster;
       Whereas the Governor of New Jersey, Christine Whitman, has
     requested Federal assistance from Attorney General Janet Reno
     for the return of Ms. Chesimard; and
       Whereas Members of Congress have petitioned Secretary of
     State Madeleine Albright requesting that the Department of
     State do everything in its power to have Joanne Chesimard,
     and all other individuals who have fled the United States to
     avoid prosecution or confinement for criminal offenses and
     who are currently living freely in Cuba, returned to the
     United States in order for them to face prosecution or
     confinement in the United States: Now, therefore, be it
       Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate
     concurring), That it is the sense of Congress that--
       (1) the Government of Cuba should extradite to the United
     States convicted murderer Joanne Chesimard in order for her
     to complete her life sentence for the murder of New Jersey
     State Trooper Werner Foerster;
       (2) the Government of Cuba should extradite to the United
     States all other individuals who have fled the United States
     to avoid prosecution or confinement for criminal offenses and
     who are currently living freely in Cuba in order for them to
     face prosecution or confinement in the United States; and
       (3) the extradition from Cuba to the United States of all
     individuals who have fled the United States to avoid
     prosecution or confinement for criminal offenses and who are
     currently living in Cuba should be a top priority for the
     United States Government.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Petri). Pursuant to the rule, the
gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) and the gentleman from
California (Mr. Lantos), each will control 20 minutes.
  The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter).
  Mr. BEREUTER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  I strongly support this resolution which calls on the Cuban regime to
return Joanne Cheismard to the United States. It is shameful and
unacceptable that Fidel Castro continues to harbor murderers and other
hardened criminals like Ms. Chesimard. The victims of her crime, New
Jersey State trooper Werner Foerster and his widow Rose and their
family, have been denied justice by Fidel Castro.
  In approving this resolution, the committee made an amendment which
underscores that ``the Federal Bureau of Investigation lists 90 felony
fugitives known to have been granted safe haven by the Cuban
government.'' These include Robert Vesco, Victor Gerena, who is on the
FBI's top 10 most wanted listed, and Trank Terpil, a rogue CIA agent
wanted for selling explosives to Libyan dictator Mu'ammar Qadhafi.
  I commend the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Franks) for sponsoring
this resolution. Our colleague on the committee, the gentlewoman from
Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) is a cosponsor, as is the gentleman from
Florida (Mr. Diaz-Balart); in addition, the gentleman from New Jersey
(Mr. Menendez) who is also a member of our committee. They have been
steadfast advocates for the Foerster family, and I thank them for their
efforts.
  I would additionally like to thank New Jersey Governor Christine
Todd-Whitman for exercising personal leadership in pressing for the
passage of this resolution calling on the Cuban government to see that
justice is done for the Foerster family. This terrible tragedy dragged
on far too long, due exclusively to Fidel Castro's intransigence.
Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H. Con. Res.
250.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume,
and I rise in strong support of H. Con. Res. 254, calling on the
government of Cuba to return to the United States convicted felon
Joanne Chesimard and all other individuals who fled the United States
to avoid prosecution or confinement for criminal offenses and who are
currently living freely in Cuba.
  Providing a safe haven for fugitives from prosecution in the United
States is one of the many concerns that we had with the government of
Cuba. The case of Joanne Chisemard is particularly egregious and we are
right to call this body's attention to it. Chesimard was sentenced to
life for the murder of a New Jersey State trooper. She escaped from
prison, fled to Cuba where she is currently living.
  I strongly urge the adoption of this resolution, Madam Speaker.
  Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BEREUTER. Madam Speaker, I yield such time as he may consume to
the gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Smith), who has been very much
involved in this issue as well.
  Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Madam Speaker, I thank the gentleman for
yielding me the time.
  I am very proud to be one of the cosponsors of H. Con. Res. 254,
which condemns the government of Cuba for harboring Joanne Chesimard
and other fugitives who have committed brutal crimes in the United
States. I want to thank my good friend and colleague, the gentleman
from New Jersey (Mr. Franks) for introducing this important resolution
and working for its passage.
  As most of us here know, Joanne Chesimard was convicted in 1977 of
first degree murder and sentenced to life in prison for her brutal
execution style murder of trooper Foerster. She escaped from jail in
1979 and subsequently fled to Cuba where she was given political
asylum. This escaped murderer now lives a very comfortable life in Cuba
and has launched a public relations campaign in which she attempts to
portray herself as an innocent victim rather than a cold-blooded
murderer.
  The protection Chesimard and others enjoy in Cuba is yet another
example of the lawlessness of the Castro dictatorship. The only truly
satisfactory solution is democracy and self-determination for the
people of Cuba. In the meantime, however, I believe it is shameful that
the Clinton administration has made deal after deal with the Castro
government, giving concession after concession, while Chesimard and
other felons are living the high life in Havana.
  I would like to thank members of the Committee on International
Relations. They backed some amendments that I had offered during markup
which changed some of the wording. The bottom line is we need to make
sure that we bring these murderers and felons, and there are many of
them, to justice. For the family, the Foerster family, that lost its
loved one, we will not rest until she is behind bars where she belongs
for the rest of her life.
  I want to thank, again, my good friend, the gentleman from Jersey
(Mr. Franks) for offering this. I hope that it will get the full
support of the body.
  Mr. FRANKS of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to urge my
colleagues to support the passage of H. Con. Res. 254, a resolution
which I introduced on March 30.
  It calls upon Fidel Castro, the dictator of the imprisoned island of
Cuba, to return to the United States all the fugitives from American
justice that he is harboring in his country.
  Under Castro, Cuba has become a haven for terrorists, murderers,
rapists, kidnappers and drug dealers who have sought refuge in Cuba in
order to avoid prosecution and imprisonment in the United States.
According to the FBI, there are now 77 American fugitives living in
Cuba.
  Let me tell you about one of them.
  Earlier this year, I was shocked to turn on the local television news
and see Joanne Chesimard, a cold-blooded cop killer, living freely in
Cuba.
  Twenty-five years ago, Joanne Chesimard gunned down two state
troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike. After firing at Trooper Werner
Foerster and hitting him twice in the chest, Chesimard grabbed the
trooper's gun and fired two more bullets execution-style into his head.
  Six years later--after serving just two years of a life sentence for
first-degree murder--a group of revolutionaries assisted her in a
daring and successful escape. She has been given a new, comfortable
life in Cuba--thanks to Fidel Castro.
  It's a tragic irony that while some of America's most vicious killers
live comfortable lives in Cuba, many of Cuba's own natives languish in
prisons merely for speaking out against the communist dictatorship.
  This resolution sends a strong message to Castro: Return Joanne
Chesimard and all the other felons you are harboring. They must be
returned to the United States so that they can be sent to prison in
order to serve out their full sentences and repay their debt to
society.
  Mrs. ROUKEMA. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H. Con.
Res. 254.
  Twenty-five years ago, in 1973, Joanne Chesimard ruthlessly gunned
down two New Jersey State Troopers on the New Jersey Turnpike.
  She approached one of the wounded Troopers, who laid bleeding and
dying, grabbed his own gun and fired two shots, point-blank, execution
style in the back of his head.
  Chesimard was captured and convicted of this brutal murder and sent
to prison.
  She broke out of prison and now lives freely in Cuba just 90 miles
off the U.S. coast.
  She is not alone, many other convicted felons live in Cuba. This
Resolution calls for justice to be served. It demands that Castro
extradite Chesimard and other criminals so they can face justice in the
U.S.
  Justice must be served. It is cruel and morally wrong for Cuba to
allow a safe harbor for these criminals while Cuba has sent its own
religious leaders to suffer in prison.
  I stand united with the families of the slain, the New Jersey State
Police, and all citizens of New Jersey in demanding Cuba return Joanne
Chesimard.
  I strongly urge my Colleagues to support this resolution.
  Mr. PAPPAS. Mr. Speaker, on May 2, 1973 a terrible tragedy occurred
in the State of New Jersey when Joanne Chesimard killed New Jersey
State Trooper Werner Foerster leaving behind his wife and family. Ms.
Chesimard was sentenced to life in prison for this heinous crime in our
state and rightly so. But she escaped and fled to Cuba where she has
the high life. She sips pina coladas, walks on the white sandy beaches,
and swims in the crystal clear water. This is a grave injustice.
  This is wrong and our government must do everything in its power to
bring her back to serve out her sentence. Instead, the Clinton
administration talks of easing the embargo knowing that Cuba is
harboring violent criminals.
  Fugitives such as Chesimard are cowards and for Cuba to invite them
in and treat them like royalty is clearly wrong. I urge Secretary
Albright and Attorney General Reno to do all they can to bring these
criminals back to the U.S. to face justice.
  I co-sponsored this legislation because I want our government to use
all means possible to pressure Cuba to return Ms. Chesimard and every
other criminal which Cuba harbors. We must fight for justice.
  I commend Congressman Franks and Governor Whitman for being such
strong advocates of this cause and I welcome the passage of this
legislation.
  Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, it is the time to send a unequivocal signal
to Fidel Castro that the United States Congress finds his regime's
harboring of terrorists, murderers and other hardened criminals wanted
in the United States shameful and unacceptable.
  H. Con. Res. 254 draws attention to the cold-blooded murder twenty-
five years ago of a New Jersey State Trooper, Werner Foerster. Joanne
Chesimard was convicted of this heinous murder but, in 1979, escaped to
Cuba.
  Joanne Chesimard now lives under Fidel Castro's protection in Cuba.
Back in New Jersey, Trooper Foerster's widow and family are denied the
justice of seeing the woman who took him from them pay for her crime.
  This is not an isolated case. Our Federal Bureau of Investigation
lists 90 felony fugitives known to have been granted safe haven by the
Cuban government.
  This resolution has broad bipartisan support. The gentleman from New
Jersey, Mr. Franks sponsored this resolution with our colleague on the
Committee, the gentlelady from Florida, Ms. Ros-Lehtinen and the
gentleman from Florida, Mr. Diaz-Balart. the gentleman from New Jersey,
Mr. Menendez, who is also a member of our Committee, has for years
supported the Foerster family's efforts to bring Joanne Chesimard back
to the United States to serve her sentence.
  I would like to recognize New Jersey Governor Christine Todd-Whitman
who wrote to me to ask that we pass this resolution.
  Just today, we have had another sobering reminder of Fidel Castro's
undiminished efforts to attack American interests. the FBI announced in
Miami that ten people have been charged with spying for the Cuban
government by trying to penetrate our Miami-based U.S. Southern
Command, MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, and the Boca Chica Naval Air
Station in Key West.
  The FBI reports that Castro's spies also sought to infiltrate Cuban-
American groups and manipulate other political groups and the U.S.
media.
  Accordingly, I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting H. Con.
Res. 254.
  Mr. LANTOS. Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
  Mr. BEREUTER. Madam Speaker, I urge unanimous support for this
resolution, and I yield back the balance of my time.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mrs. Morella). The question is on the motion
offered by the gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter) that the House
suspend the rules and agree to the concurrent resolution, H. Con. Res.
254, as amended.
  The question was taken.
  Mr. BEREUTER. Madam Speaker, on that I demand the yeas and nays.
  The yeas and nays were ordered.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to clause 5 of rule I and the
Chair's prior announcement, further proceedings on this motion will be
postponed.
From referrals:
       H. Con. Res. 254. Concurrent resolution calling on the
     Government of Cuba to extradite to the United States
     convicted felon Joanne Chesimard and all other individuals
     who have fled the United States to avoid prosecution or
     confinement for criminal offenses and who are currently
     living freely in Cuba, to the Committee on Foreign Relations.                      

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Response from the Center for Constitutional Rightstop

Michael Ratner
CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
666 BROADWAY
New York, N.Y. 10012
(212) 614-6430
(212) 614-6499 (fax)

Re: Assata Shakur (Joanne Chesimard)

Dear Members of the House of Representatives:

On September 14, 1998 the House of Representatives passed H. Con. Res. 254, calling on the government of Cuba to extradite Assata Shakur (Joanne Chesimard). That resolution was not only incredibly hypocritical, but
illegal and unwarranted as well. As I will explain in this letter there is no basis for that resolution.

First,  even apart from Assata Shakur's  innocence and the unfairness of her trial,  it is politically hypocritical for the United States to insist on her extradition. If there is a place where terrorists can call home, it is the Untied States. It gives refuge to criminals who have attacked and murdered scores if not hundreds of Cubans. Most notorious of these is Orlando Bosch, living in Miami, who was convicted of blowing up a Cubana airliner killing 76 people, including a young Cuban fencing team.  And what of the agents of the CIA who planned and paid for numerous sabotage and terrorist attacks in Cuba.

But the U.S. is not only a home for Cuban terrorists. Living among us is Emmanuel Constant, the former head of the Haitian paramilitary organization FRAPH; its members tortured and murdered hundreds in the aftermath of the 1991 coup in Haiti. During the coup Constant was on the CIA payroll.  After the coup the U.S. labeled FRAPH "terrorist"  and Secretary of State Warren Christopher said his presence here  "would seriously undermine U.S. foreign policy interests... and cast doubt upon the seriousness of our resolve to combat human rights violations. He said Constant "was instrumental in sustaining the repression that prevailed in Haiti...."  Yet the State Department refused a Haitian extradition request and stopped his deportation back to Haiti. Constant walks the streets of New York intimidating and frightening Haitians.

And what of  the Salvadoran General Jose Guillermo Garcia and the head of El Salvador's national guard, Vides Cassanonva, who according to the United Nations covered up and protected the murderers of the three nuns and lay worker in El Salvador. They obtained political asylum and are living well in Palm Coast, Florida. The U.S. has laid out a welcome mat for other terrorists including General Hector Gramajo, accused of killing as many as 10,000 Guatemalan Indians, General Prosper Avril, a former dictator of Haiti and responsible for the torture of opposition leaders and Sintong Panjaitan, an Indonesian general, responsible for the 1991 Santa Cruz massacre in East Timor that killed hundreds.

But, these are only a few terrorists who the U.S. has welcomed; scores more are probably unknown to the public, hidden in the U.S. after carrying out its bidding overseas. Second,  under the extradition treaty with Cuba, it has the absolute and unfettered right not to extradite Assasta Shakur. Assuming the treaty is still valid, it contains a clear exception to extradition for crimes that are of a "political character."  Article VI of the treaty states:

A fugitive criminal shall not be surrendered if the offense in respect of which his surrender is demanded be of a political character, or if it is proved that the requisition for his surrender has, in fact, been made with a view to try or punish him for an offense of a political character. Interestingly, after the revolution it was the United States that first invoked this "political offense" exception to shield two escaped murderers who had been convicted of killing a prominent member of the Cuban Communist Party. Ramos v. Diaz, 179 F. Supp. 458 (1959).   Cuba has made the decision that Assata Shakur's case fits the "political exception" of the treaty. On April 2, Cuba forcefully turned down any request for Assata's extradition. A spokesman for the Foreign Ministry, Alejandro Gonzalez, said Assata was "a civil rights activist." He stated that she would not be extradited as the "government of Cuba has sufficient reasons to disagree with the charges against her and fears that she might be the target of unfair treatment." This decision by the Cuban government cannot be questioned or overruled by the United States. Article VI of the treaty is clear on this: If any question shall arise as to whether a case comes within the provisions of this article, the decision of the authorities of the government on which the demand for the surrender is made, or which may gave granted the extradition shall be final.  As the treaty states: the Cuban decision is final. The current demand by the House of Representatives flies in the face of the treaty and violates U.S. treaty obligations and U.S. law.

Third, I believe, as do many others, that Assata Shakur is innocent. The evidence at trial showed that  she was illegally stopped by racist New Jersey State police, shot in the back with her hands in the air and  tried
by a jury inflamed by politicians and a press bent on her conviction. The New Jersey State Police have a long history of discriminatory and racist conduct that unfortunately is still continuing. No matter what position you
take as to Assata Shakur's innocence or guilt, her trial was clearly, like that of Sam Shepard's, a miscarriage of justice.

The vote on the resolution represents political  grandstanding of the worst sort.  But for the United States and the House of Representatives hypocrisy, inconsistency and illegality are a matter of a course when dealing with Assata Shakur and Cuba.

Sincerely yours,

Michael Ratner

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Letter to Maxine Waters from Sundiata attorney Joan P. Gibbs, 9/1998top

September 22, 1998

The Honorable Maxine Waters
United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C.

Dear Representative Waters:

    I write to express my outrage over your and other members of the
Congressional Black Caucus recent vote in support of House Con. Res. 254
expressing the sense of Congress that, inter alia, "the Government of Cuba
should extradite to the United States convicted murderer Joanne Chesimard in
order for her to complete her life sentence for the murder of New Jersey State
Trooper Werner Foerster. . ." Rumor has it that at the time of the vote you,
and presumably your staff, did not know that Assata Shakur's birth name was
Joanne Chesimard. If that is true, it speaks volumes about your and your
staff's knowledge of the history and struggles of people of African descent
in the United States.

    Because of her commitment to the liberation of African people in the United
States, her defiance in the face of her brutalization and torture by New
Jersey State troopers and lastly her heroic liberation from prison, Assata
Shakur is a heroine to thousands, if not millions, of people of African
descent in the United States and to even greater number of people around a
world. Earlier this year, for example, following New Jersey Governor Christine
Whitman's offering of first a $50,000 bounty for her capture and return to
New Jersey, an "open letter" signed by hundreds of organizations and
individuals in and outside the United States was send to Governor Whitman.
Copies of this letter and Assata's "Statement to the United Nations Commission
on Human Rights" is being send by regular mail to you for your and your staff,
as well as other Caucus' supporters of Resolution 254, education as to who she
is and what she means to freedom loving peoples.
       
    Over the last few days, the media has been filled with pictures of you and
the President at the recent Congressional Black Caucus dinner. In introducing
the President, you were quoted as stating that African Americans supported the
President "because African Americans are uniquely qualified to know unfairness
when we see it." That is certainly true.

    One of the most blatant and unlawful examples of "unfairness" in recent
history is the FBI, along with other law enforcement agencies, infamous
"counterintelligence program" against so-called "Black Nationalist-Hate
Groups." "The purpose," of this particular counterintelligence program,
according to an August 25, 1967 memoranda, was "to expose, disrupt, misdirect,
or otherwise neutralize the activities of Black nationalist hate-type
organizations and groupings, their leadership, spokesmen, membership and
supporters. . ."

    As a result of COINTELPRO, hundreds of African Americans, including perhaps
yourself and other members of the Caucus, were targeted for surveillance,
harassment, jailed and/or outright murdered. See, for example, Lennox Hinds,
Illusions of Justice: Human Rights Violations in the United States (Iowa:
School of Social Work, University of Iowa 1978); Kenneth O'Reilly, Racial
Matters: Secret Files on Black America 1960-1972 (New York : Free Press 1989);
Kenneth O'Reilly, Black Americans: The FBI Files (New York: Carroll & Graf
Publishers, Inc. 1994). Falsely accusing Black activists of crimes they did
not commit was one of the FBI and local law enforcement officers favorite
tactics. For example, I am sure you are aware of the case of Geronimo Pratt, a
former leader of the Los Angles Chapter of the Black Panther Party, who spent
over twenty years in prison for a murder that the FBI knew he could not have
committed because he was hundreds of miles away at the time. Similarly,
Assata, at the time of her arrest, was "wanted" on federal and state charges
in New York, all of which juries subsequently found her not guilty of or were
dismissed.

    Though Congress condemned the FBI for its violations of the constitutional
rights of Black activists as well as other activists through its various
counterintelligence programs, it did not offer any remedial relief or
compensation to the thousands of activists who suffered as a consequence of
such violations. Today, indeed, there are dozens of Black political prisoners
and prisoners of war languishing in federal and state prisons throughout the
United States as a direct or indirect result of the FBI's counterintelligence
programs. Sundiata Acoli, Assata's co- defendant, has been incarcerated since
1973. When he became eligible for parole in 1994, the New Jersey State Parole
Board denied him release and assigned him a new parole eligibility date of
June 4, 2006 because of, inter alia, his former membership in the Black
Panther Party and his support of the Black Liberation Army. Sundiata, who I
am one of the attorney for, is now 61 years old and if New Jersey has its way
will remain in prison for the remainder of his natural life because of his
political beliefs and associations in contradiction to his purported rights to
freedom of speech and association under the First Amendment.


    The Congressional Black Caucus on several occasions has been asked to hold
hearings on the COINTELPRO program, generally, and its effects on the arrest
and trials of these prisoners, in particular, but has yet to hold such
hearings. In the interest of "fairness", I urge that the Caucus immediately
request that hearings on COINTELPRO be held by the House and/or the Senate or
hold them itself. Certainly, the situation of Black/New African political
prisoners and prisoners of war, some of whom have been in prison for over
twenty years, raises issues of "fairness" too, issues of far more relevance
and importance to people of African descent in the United States than the
President's current crisis and affairs.

    In closing, I urge you to reconsider your vote in support of Resolution 254
and to work for its repeal and an end to inhumane boycott of Cuba. Cuba, under
the leadership of His Excellency Fidel Castro, was one of, if not, the
stauchest supporters of the people of Southern Africa (e.g. South Africa and
Angola) in their long struggles for their independence. It's granting of
asylum to Assata was an act of tremendous solidarity with the liberation
struggle of African people in the United States. Instead of denouncing Cuba
for its friendship with our struggles, the Caucus should be defending it.

    I look forward to your reply.

Thank you,


Joan P. Gibbs   

 

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Analysis of the Congressional Black Caucus' role

CBC members voting YEA (against Assata)---(23)
Bishop; Carson; Clay; Clyburn; Conyers; Cummings; Davis (IL); Dixon;Fattah; Ford; Hilliard; Jackson (IL); Jackson-Lee (TX); Lee; McKinney;Meek (FL); Millender-McDonald; Payne; Scott; Stokes; Thompson; Waters; Wynn

CBC members voting NAY (for Assata)---(0)

CBC members NOT VOTING---(13)
Brown (FL); Clayton; Green; Hastings (FL); Jefferson; Kilpatrick; Lewis (GA); Meeks (NY); Owens; Rangel; Rush; Towns; Watt (NC)

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Emailing Congress, including Rep. Maxine Waters

To express your feelings on this Congressional resolution, you can cut and paste any text you want or better yet, write your own letter (gets more attention) and email it to your rep.  There's a handy service on the House site, http://www.house.gov/writerep  which enables you to look up your rep and send him or her an email.

Rep. Waters can be contacted via the internet by going to her website located at: http://www.house.gov/waters/, and clicking on her “Guestbook” link where a message can be sent. Rep. Waters’ website also includes a link with email, URL and postal addresses for all of the Congressional Black Caucus.

A list of email addresses for the US Congress, state by state, can be found at: http://www.webslingerz.com/jhoffman/state. This list can be useful for other crucial votes and bills coming up in Congress.

Return to Assata Index

Oct 5 Assata Demo Day: Bro. Damon McGhee, Black Autonomy Internationaltop

FROM: Marpessa Kupendua, INTERNET:nattyreb@ix.netcom.com

DATE: 9/29/98 2:27 PM
Re: !*HANDS OFF ASSATA! - PROTEST 10/5 AT NOON

******************************************

DAY OF OUTRAGE FOR SIS. ASSATA SHAKUR !

******************************************

WHEN: OCTOBER 5, 1998

WHERE: CAPITOL HILL, WASHINGTON, D.C.
Independence Avenue between 1st St. SW and 1st St. SE
(This is a three block area which runs on the south side of the Capitol,
in front of the Rayburn, Longworth and Cannon Office buildings.)
Near the Capitol South Metro station.

WHEN: HIGH NOON!

NOTE: Most of the CBC and the civil rights all-stars will be right
around the corner from us on Monday at a demo in front of the Supreme
Court sponsored by the NAACP calling for more black clerks.

*******************************************************

Comrades, Sistas and Brothas,

By now you are aware of the recent action taken by the congress of the
united states entitled HR 254 in which the amerikkkan government
openly called for cuba to extradite our beloved Sis. Assata Shakur
and the political revolutionaries in exile in cuba. We must unequivocally
declare, "HELL, NO!!!!!

***********************************************************

BLACK AUTONOMY, INTERNATIONAL IS CALLING FOR A MASS
DEMONSTRATION ON WASHINGTON D.C. AND DECLARING MONDAY
OCTOBER 5TH, 1998 AS "A DAY OF OUTRAGE" ON CAPITOL HILL,
THE VERY SITE OF THIS FASCIST CRIME AGAINST OUR PEOPLE.

*************************************************************

ALL SISTAS AND BROTHAS, POLITICAL ORGANIZATIONS, AND
ACTIVISTS WE NEED YOU TO COLLECTIVELY PARTICIPATE AND
LET OUR VOICES AND OUR FEET BE HEARD IN PRINCIPLED UNITY!!!
THIS WILL BE A PROTEST DEMONSTRATION AGAINST THE
GOVERNMENT AND ITS LACKEYS, I.E. THE CONGRESS
AND THE CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS!!!!!

For those sistas and brothas who are in close proximity to DC, WE NEED
YOU TO BE THERE NOT IN SPIRITUAL SOLIDARITY, BUT IN MIND AND
BODY!!! WE MUST ACT NOW. IF WE FAIL TO ACT NOW OUR ENEMIES

WILL SEE THIS AS AN OPPORTUNITY TO MOVE ON SIS. ASSATA THINKING
THAT WE WILL NOT RESPOND ANYWAY!! WE MUST RESPOND NOW!!
THE STRATEGY IS SIMPLE, SIMULTANEOUS DEMOS!!!

For those who cannot reach Washington DC, simultaneous demonstrations
in the front of the home district offices of these negro lackeys is the
most necessary alternative. Wherever offices of Black congresspersons
are there needs to be a protest. Conyers in Michigan, McKinney in
Georgia, Waters in California, Rangel in New York, Ford in Tennessee,
Jesse Jr. in the Chi, and Bobby Rush in the Chi. BOBBY RUSH SHOULD

EXPERIENCE A SERIOUS PROTEST BEING A PANTHER AND KNOWING
SIS ASSATA. DON'T LET THESE TRAITORS OFF THE HOOK. THE WHOLE
DAMN CAUCUS MUST BE DEMONSTRATED AGAINST FOR THIS SELL-OUT.
WE MUST SPEAK WITH A LOUD, PRINCIPALLY UNIFIED VOICE ON
MONDAY, OCTOBER 5TH TO LET THIS GOVERNMENT KNOW THAT WE
WANT THEM TO KEEP THEIR HANDS OFF OF SIS ASSATA AND ALL OF
OUR SISTAS AND BROTHAS. This collective effort will offer a resounding
shout with a national impact.

LET OUR ANGER BE SOLIDIFIED WITH A CORE SET OF DEMANDS TO THE CBC.
I. WE DEMAND THAT THE GOVERNMENT KEEP IT HANDS OFF OF SIS ASSATA
AND ALL REVOLUTIONARY SISTAS AND BROTHAS IN EXILE.

II. WE DEMAND THAT THE CBC ACTIVELY AND PUBLICLY MOVE TO RECALL
THAT RESOLUTION, HR 254 AND KILL IT IMMEDIATELY.

III. WE DEMAND THAT THE CBC EXPOSE FASCIST AMERCIAN GOVERNMENTAL
TERRORISM BY OPENING UP CONGRESSIONAL HEARINGS ON THE
COUNTER-INTELLIGENCE PROGRAM (COINTELPRO) OF THE FBI AND
OTHER SIMILAR NEFARIOUS ACTIVITIES BY OTHER US INTELLIGENCE
AGENCIES AGAINST BLACK REVOLUTIONARY ORGANIZATIONS SUCH AS
THE BPP, BLA, ETC AND INDIVIDUALS SUCH AS SIS ASSATA, BRO.
SUNDIATA, MARSHAL EDDIE CONWAY. BRO. HERMAN BELL, BRO.
MUMIA, ETC. THE COINTELPRO HEARINGS MUST BE STARTED
IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!!!!!

IV. WE MUST ALSO DEMAND THAT THE GOVERNMENT KEEP ITS HANDS
OFF OF CUBA PERIOD!!!!

PLEASE support this effort by faxing and widely circulating this call
as this is short notice because this Resolution DEMANDS an URGENT
response. We especially need you to PLEASE contact sistas and
brothas in D.C. and surrounding areas to inform them of
this demonstration as well as put this information out in your local
and alternative media! PLEASE ADD THIS CALL TO YOUR WEBSITES ASAP.

WE NEED TO HUSTLE TO MAKE MONDAY OCT 5TH A REALITY.
WE HAVE GOT TO DEMONSTRATE AND COUNTER-ATTACK
THIS GOVERNMENTAL TERRORISM.

CONTACT: BRO. DAMON MCGHEE, BLACK AUTONOMY INTERNATIONAL
(770) 972-5002. OR AT THE E-MAIL ADDRESS blanarcho@hotmail.com.
IF I AM OUT, PLEASE LEAVE A MESSAGE AND I WILL RETURN YOUR CALL.
WE WILL BE PUTTING MORE INFO OUT ON THIS AS THE DAYS
PROGRESS, PLEASE CONTACT US WITH SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
OR E-MAIL SIS. MARPESSA AT nattyreb@ix.netcom.com.

INDIVIDUAL/ORGANIZATIONAL ENDORSEMENTS (as of 9/30/98)
--------------------------------------------

Black Autonomy International
Afrikan Frontline Network
International Concerned Family and Friends of
   Mumia Abu-Jamal, DC Chapter
REAL JUSTICE!
M'Backe House of Hope
Black Information Television, DE
Million Man March LOC, DE
(Contact Sis. Marpessa to add your name here)

REMINDER: Please keep sending in signatures for the
letter to the CBC on HR 254 that was sent out yesterday,
e-mail nattyreb@ix.netcom.com if you need an
additional copy [or check the link]. The site at
http://afrikan.net also has more info on this whole
situation and the URGENT NEED for MAXIMUM INVOLVEMENT
from as many freedom-loving people as possible!

******************************************

WE MUST BUILD A STRONG, PRINCIPALLLY UNIFIED, UNITED
FRONT AROUND OUR SISTA ASSATA SHAKUR, OUR SISTAS
AND BROTHAS IN EXILE, AND CUBAN SISTAS AND BROTHAS!
LET US UNITE PRINCIPALLY!!! COME TO DC ON MONDAY,
OCTOBER 5TH AND DENOUNCE HR 254!!

*********************************************

Return to Assata Index

Petition to the Congressional Black Caucus, 9/98

FROM: Marpessa Kupendua, INTERNET:nattyreb@ix.netcom.com
DATE: 9/28/98 8:00 PM
Re: !*Call for Signatures for Letter to CBC Re: HR254

PLEASE DISTRIBUTE WIDELY
==================

Thanks to the excellent writing of Sis. JoNina Abron and Atty. Joan Gibbs, members of the Harambee Collective in solidarity with this letter-writing protest campaign are submitting the following letter for signatures for all of those who wish to make it plain to the members of the Congressional Black Caucus that we vehemently oppose their action/inaction in this latest attempt by the U.S. Government to forceably extradite Sis. Assata Shakur and other political exiles to the U.S., trampling on the rights of Cuba to grant political asylum to whoever they see fit.

Please format your signatures as follows:

Name - Title/Affiliation - City/State

Please send your signatures to nattyreb@ix.netcom.com

and a final version of the letter with signatures will be sent out the first week of October by e-mail, fax and postal mail to the CBC.

We are also encouraging folks to print out the letter and collect signatures off-line beyond that time frame so that this will be an ongoing and as broad-based a campaign as possible. Please put these letters on your literature tables, at your places of worship, sororities/fraternities, social hang-outs, apartment buildings, etc., and mail them in to the CBC at the address below. Please post this letter to your web sites, send to the editor of your local newspapers, call-in to talk radio, and include information on Assata in any educational forums, conferences, or events that are upcoming. We hope that this can be a continual protest as well as an education for all those who may otherwise be unaware of the severity of this situation and would like to get this as widely distributed as possible.

Also, please feel free to amend this letter or compose your own personal letter to send to congresspersons who cooperated with this dangerous piece of legislation.

========================
October, 1998

The Honorable Maxine Waters
Chairperson
Congressional Black Caucus
United States House of Representatives
330 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Ms. Waters:

As Black activists and community organizers, we are outraged at the Congressional Black Caucus for its support of H.R. 254, passed in the House on September 14, 1998, expressing the sense of Congress that, inter alia, "the Government of Cuba should extradite to the United States convicted murderer Joanne Chesimard in order for her to complete her life sentence for the murder of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster. . ." By advocating the return of Black political refugee Assata Shakur (Joanne Chesimard) from Cuba to the United States--the primary intent of H.R. 254--the CBC has taken an unconscionable action against Black political dissent in America.

For over 30 years, Ms. Shakur has been one of those dissenters, and that is why today she lives in forced exile in Cuba. Because of her commitment to the liberation of African people in the United States, her defiance in the face of her brutalization and torture by New Jersey State troopers, and lastly her heroic liberation from prison,

Assata Shakur is a heroine to thousands, if not millions, of people of African descent in the United States and to an even greater number of people around the world. Earlier this year, for an example, following New Jersey Governor Christine Whitman's offering of first a $50,000 bounty for Ms. Shakur's capture and return to New Jersey, an "open letter" signed by hundreds of organizations and individuals in and outside the United States was sent to Governor Whitman.

Ms. Shakur was a primary target of a campaign of which CBC members are well aware--the infamous FBI counterintelligence Program launched against the Black Liberation Movement in 1967. COINTELPRO was one of the most violent and criminal efforts in American history to destroy the right of Black people in this country to organize against racism, poverty, police brutality and other issues that plague our communities to this day. In the words of the Church Committee's 1976 report to the U.S. Senate:

"...Many of the techniques used [in COINTELPRO] would be intolerable in a democratic society....The American people need to be assured that never again will an agency of the government be permitted to conduct a secret war against those citizens it considers threats to the established order." Ms. Shakur belonged to the Black Panther Party,whose destruction, according to the Church Committee, was the primary objective of COINTELPRO.

As a result of COINTELPRO, hundreds of African Americans, including perhaps yourself and other members of the Caucus, were targeted for surveillance, harassment, jailed and/or outright murdered. (See, for example, Lennox Hinds, "Illusions of Justice: Human Rights Violations in the United States," Iowa: School of Social Work, University of Iowa, 1978; Kenneth O'Reilly, "Racial Matters: The FBI's Secret File on Black America, 1960-1972," New York: Free Press,1989; Kenneth O'Reilly, "Black Americans: The FBI Files," New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc. 1994).

Falsely accusing Black activists of crimes they did not commit was one of the FBI's favorite tactics. For example, we are sure you are aware of the case of Geronimo Pratt, a former leader of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Black Panther Party, who spent twenty-seven years in prison for a murder that the FBI knew he could not have committed because he was hundreds of miles away at the time.

Similarly, at the time of her arrest on the New Jersey turnpike in May, 1973, Ms. Shakur was "wanted" on federal and state charges for her alleged involvement in nearly every violent crime in New York that involved a Black woman. The FBI opened its "CHESROB" file after the capture of Ms. Shakur. Subsequently, Ms. Shakur was indicted on charges of robbery, armed robbery, kidnapping, attempted murder and murder, all of which were dismissed or juries found her not guilty. In March, 1977, she received a life sentence for the New Jersey shootings--a crime for which she steadfastly maintains her innocence.

Consequently, Ms. Shakur escaped from New Jersey's Clinton Correctional Institute in November, 1979, and was eventually granted political asylum by the government of Cuba.

Many members of the CBC hold office today because of the organizing efforts of Black activists, who, like Ms. Shakur, were unjustly targeted by COINTELPRO for their commitment to equality of life for Black people in America. That is why we object so strenuously to the CBC's support of H.R. 254-- either by voting for it or not voting at all. How can the highest elected Black officials in America take such a reactionary position against Black political dissent? Your failure to oppose H.R. 254 is a betrayal of Black America, for which *all* CBC members should immediately apologize.

The Congressional Black Caucus on several occasions has been asked to hold hearings on COINTELPRO, generally, and its effects on the arrest and trials of Black/New Afrikan political prisoners and prisoners of war targeted by COINTELPRO. Certainly, the situation of these prisoners, some of whom have been incarcerated for over twenty years, raises issues of "fairness", issues of far more relevance and importance to people of African descent in the United States than the President's current crisis and affairs.

Among the signers of this letter are activists who will sponsor protests in Washington, D.C. and around the country the first week of October, demanding that Congress repeal H.R. 254 and end the inhumane U.S. boycott of Cuba. We call on you to urge your colleagues in the CBC to reconsider their votes in support of Resolution 254 and lead efforts to repeal this reactionary legislation. Finally, in the interest of fairness, we urge the Caucus to immediately request that the House and/or Senate hold hearings on COINTELPRO or that the Caucus itself hold the hearings. It is time to end the 31-year-old nightmare against Black political dissent in America.

Sincerely,

Name - Title/Affiliation - City/State

cc: Congressional Black Caucus

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Maxine Water's letter to Castro announcing a reversal of her vote on Assata, 9/1998top

///\\\///\\\///\\\///\\\///\\\///\\\///\\\
Congresswoman Maxine Waters' Letter to President Fidel Castro on Assata Shakur

I received this letter by fax on Tue 29 Sep 98 from the office of Congresswoman Maxine Waters. Statements in brackets are my own.

Yemi Toure
ytoure@mindspring.com
///\\\///\\\///\\\///\\\///\\\///\\\

[letterhead of:]
Congressional Black Caucus
Congress of the United States
2344 Rayburn Building - Washington, DC 20515 - (202) 225-2201

September 29, 1998

President Fidel Castro
Central Committee
Plaza de la Revolucion
Habana, Cuba

Dear President Castro,

I am writing to clarify my position on a resolution recently passed by the United States House of Representatives on September 14, 1998.

I, and some of the Members of the Congressional Black Caucus, mistakenly voted for House Concurrent Resolution 254 which called on the Government of Cuba to extradite to the United States Joanne Chesimard and all other individuals who have fled the United States from political persecution and received political asylum in Cuba. Joanne Chesimard was the birth name of a political activist known to most Members of the Congressional Black Caucus as Assata Shakur.

For the record, I am opposed to the resolution.

By way of explanation, the Republican leadership quietly slipped this bill onto the accelerated suspension calendar last week as one of thirteen (13) bills that had been announced that same day. The suspension calendar is supposed to be reserved for non-controversial legislation like naming federal buildings and post offices. But, the Republican leadership chose to push this provision in an apparent effort to look tough on Cuba for The November elections.

As evidence of their deceptive intent, the resolution did not mention Assata Shakur, but chose to only call her Joanne Chesimard.

Unfortunately, none of our offices were alerted to the fact that this legislation was coming up for a vote by any of the numerous advocacy groups that monitor related issues.

Once I discovered the nature of this deception, I prepared a statement of opposition, which I delivered on the floor the next day. I unequivocally stated that a mistake was made and I would have voted against the legislation.

Allow me to explain why I am opposed to this measure.

I support the right of all nations to grant political asylum to individuals fleeing political persecution. The United States grants political asylum to individuals from all over the world who successfully prove they are fleeing political persecution. Other sovereign nations have the same right, including the sovereign nation of Cuba.

Although there are Members of Congress that may disagree with particular decisions made by other sovereign governments regarding political asylum, it is the inviolate right of legitimate governments to grant asylum pursuant to the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I will fight to maintain the ability of political refugees to find asylum in United States and respect the right of other governments to be able to grant political asylum. Just as we maintain the right to grant political asylum for individuals from Cuba, we must respect the right of the government of Cuba to grant political asylum for individuals from the U.S. fleeing political persecution.

I believe that the current thirty-seven year embargo on Cuba is a relic of a Cold War past, now over, and is primarily hurting the poor and working people of Cuba. I was encouraged by the words of the Pope in his visit to Cuba this year, and look forward to a new era of US-Cuban relations. Part of these efforts include work to allow humanitarian and medical aid for Cuba.

The second reason I oppose this measure is because I respect the right of Assata Shakur to seek political asylum. Assata Shakur has maintained that she was persecuted as a result of her political beliefs and political affiliations. As a result, she left the United States and sought political asylum in Cuba, where she still resides.

In a sad and shameful chapter of our history, during the 1960s and 1970s, many civil rights, Black Power and other politically active groups were secretly targeted by the FBI for prosecution based on their political beliefs. The groups and individuals targeted included Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, officials of the American Friends Service Committee, National Council of Churches and other civil rights, religious and peace movement leaders.

However, the most vicious and reprehensible acts were taken against the leaders and organizations associated with the Black Power or Black Liberation Movement. Assata Shakur, was a member of the Black Panther Party, one of the leading groups associated with the Black Liberation Movement. The Black Panther Party was the primary target of U.S. domestic government political harrassment and persecution during this era.

This illegal, clandestine political persecution was wrong in 1973, and remains wrong today.

I hope that my position is clear. I hope to see a new era of U.S.-Cuban relations in the future.

Sincerely,

[signature]

Maxine Waters, Chair
Congressional Black Caucus

[attachment to the letter]
PERSONAL EXPLANATION (House of Representatives - September 15,1998)
Page: H7785

Ms. WATERS. Mr. Speaker, I inadvertently voted 'yea' on rollcall vote No. 428. If I had been aware of this, I would have changed my vote to 'nay' instead of 'yea.'

[end]

Return to Assata Index

Statement from Sundiata Acoli to Oct 5 Demonstration, 10/1998top

From: JGibbs3926@aol.com

Date: Sat, 3 Oct 1998 10:58:41 EDT

Statement of Sundiata Acoli to Demonstrations Against House Resolution 254

Greetings! Thank you all for coming to the Nation's capitol to demonstrate your opposition to, anger and disgust at Res. 254 called for the extradition of Assata Shakur from Cuba. The resolution states "Assata and the driver [i.e. me] opened fire with automatic pistols, striking Trooper Werner Foerster twice in the chest and Trooper James Harper in the left shoulder...then turned Trooper Foerster's own weapon on him firing an additional two bullets into his head execution style..."

Those are very emotional words, but to any humane person all such deaths are tragic. Zayd Shakur the other passenger and our companion also died from trooper gunfire during the same incident. His death is equally tragic but these tragedies are compounded by Gov. Whitman's attempt to use Assata and the trooper's death to whip up hysterics solely to revive her faded-out political career. And its particularly tragic that many Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members meekly went along with Whitman's charade. Some didn't and I commend all those who did not.

Those CBC members who did vote for the resolution acted as though they have forgotten the real history of African people in this country or the real way African motorists and other people of color are treated on the New Jersey Turnpike even today. It was worst in 1973 when Assata, Zayd and I were stopped there.

In the same manner, New Jersey State Troopers recently opened fire without provocation, on three basketball try-out students, two Blacks and one Puerto Ricans, in a van: Trooper Harper opened fire on Assata sitting in the car with her hands in the air. Trooper Foerster opened fire on me and shot me in the hand as I struggled to prevent him from killing me. It does not take a rocket scientists to figure that since he fired one bullet into my hand, and his weapon which was recovered at the scene was found to have been fired only twice, that it's mathematically impossible for two bullets from his own weapon to be found in his head. They did find two bullets in his head, though, and both were revolver bullets. The only two revolvers on the scene belong to Troopers Foerster and Harper. The other three weapons recovered at the scene and attributed to me and my passengers were each semi-automatic pistols.

The continuing tragedy is the twenty five years of lies, hysterical and cover-up to hide what really happened on the turnpike in May 1973. But truth crushed to earth will rise again. Assata, Zayd and I were only three of many Black Panther Party (BPP) members and other political activists of the 1960s, 1970s and beyond who were targeted by COINTELPRO, then branded as criminals so that we could be hunted down, shot and killed like animals; or if we survived, imprisoned for life. But that is a price many of us willing paid during that era to struggle for our people's freedom. Its because of the struggle and sacrifices of people like Assata that many CBC members and other middle-class blacks are where they are today.

Instead of voting for a resolution demanding Assata's extradition, the CBC should be sponsoring a resolution demanding that the charges against Assata be dropped and calling for a congressional investigation, not only into the 1973 turnpike incident, but also into an investigation of COINTELPRO's dirty hands in setting up so many political activists of that era: many who are still in prison today and must be freed if we ever to bring a principled closure to the 1960s. Anything less is a sell-out.

And last, Assata has given and gives so much to us. It was recently brought to my attention how little we give back to Assata. So I want your participation in an upcoming national fundraiser to give something back to Assata. The details of this fundraiser will be provided you. The gist of it involves a national fundraiser to provide Assata's daughter and her family with funds to travel frequently to see Assata and to maintain frequent telephone contact with her when away. I know its a gift that's dear to her heart and I urge you to give the max so that Assata can see/talk with her children and her grandchild as often as possible. It will make her very happy.

I thank you.

Hands Off Assata!

Free Mumia and All Political Prisoners and Prisoners of War!

Sundiata Acoli

Return to Assata Index

REPORT ON 10/5/98 DAY OF OUTRAGE
FOR ASSATA SHAKUR!top

==========================
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - 10/15/98
==========================

STEERING COMMITTEE, AD HOC COALITION TO KEEP
ASSATA FREE -- REPORT ON 10/5/98 DAY OF OUTRAGE
FOR ASSATA SHAKUR!
-----------------------------------------------

HANDS OFF ASSATA! HANDS OFF CUBA!
ALL POWER 2 DA PEOPLE!


BACKGROUND

On Sept. 14, 1998, the U.S. House of Representatives (with the
Senate concurring) passed House Concurrent Resolution 254,
which states:

1. The Government of Cuba should return to the United States
convicted murderer Joanne Chesimard in order for her to complete
her life sentence for the murder of New Jersey State Trooper
Werner Foerster;

2. The Government of Cuba should return to the United States all
other individuals who have fled the United States to avoid
prosecution or confinement for criminal offenses and who are
currently living freely in Cuba in order for them to face
prosecution or confinement in the United States; and

3. The return from Cuba to the United States of all individuals
who have fled the United States to avoid prosecution or
confinement for criminal offenses and who are currently living in
Cuba should be a top priority for the United States Government.

Twenty-three of the thirty-six members of the Congressional Black
Caucus voted for the resolution. Thirteen did not vote. The
resolution is non-binding, meaning that it does not have the force
of law. Nevertheless, attorneys for the National Council of Black
Lawyers said that this "sense of Congress" could be used as a
basis for any attack on our beloved Sister Assata and is a sizeable
threat to her continued "freedom."

From the Organizer, DAMON MCGEE of BLACK AUTONOMY
INTERNATIONAL:

"I first received word concerning H CON RES 254 from Sis
Thandisizwe Chimurenga of Crossroads Support Network, and
more information from Bro. Kedar of Crossroads (my cousin and
father of Assata's grandchild). What I read of H CON RES 254 at
the Afrocuba Web Site literally alarmed me.

"I felt that there should have been an immediate response to this
congressional resolution, in terms of demonstrations and protests
as soon as they were handed down. The life and example of Sis.
Assata Shakur, a BPP member/organizer, a facilitator of the
Underground and BLA, affectionately and rightly called the Heart
and Soul of the Black Liberation Army, her sacrifice and the
sacrifice of all PP'S and POW'S and Exile's, I'm sure, motivates
us all and sustains us to continue to fight for their freedom and the
ultimate freedom of all of our people.

"I decided right then to call for a demonstration on behalf of Sis.
Assata against this congressional fascist onslaught. I called it
A DAY OF OUTRAGE FOR SIS ASSATA SHAKUR because I
was outraged that the Congress i. e. the white government would
move on Sis. Assata so boldly and the CBC would fully assist the
Congress in this imperialist move so nakedly. TOTAL
SELLOUT!!!!"

Indeed, it is our young people who are suffering tremendously
under the overt war against Black youth in this country. Damon
was joined by activists and concerned community people around
the country who organized the Oct. 5 demonstration against
H CON RES 254 on Capitol Hill in Washington.

The October 5 Day of Outrage for Assata Shakur was endorsed
by:
Black Autonomy International
UNIA-ACL Div.330 Wash. D.C.
Million Man March/Million Woman March Alumni Foundation of
Wash. D.C.
ICFFMAJ/DC Chapter
New Afrikan Liberation Front
Afrikan Frontline Network
REAL JUSTICE!
M'Backe House of Hope
Million Man March Local Organizing Committee, DE, Inc.


PREPARATION FOR THE DEMONSTRATION

Out of town organizers arrived in DC Sunday afternoon and
began leafletting and postering local hot spots including the
campus of Howard University, their student center and radio
station, alerting the students that were there of the traitorous
actions of the CBC in their collusion with the extradition attempts
of the US Congress specifically to Sis. Assata Shakur and to
other US exiles living in Cuba in general. The point was made
that Cuba's sovereignty was not the business of the US to be
interfering with and that we would expose the CBC and Congress
for acting as Gov. Christine Whitman's lackeys and henchpersons
in unanimously upholding H. Con Res. 254. Students were appalled
to learn that this action had been secretly and quietly carried out
without any publicity surrounding it, that none of the media-picked
"black leaders" publicly condemned it, nor had they received any
word at all on campus of the activity we had planned for the next
day.

At 10:00 a.m. Monday Coalition organizers were out leafletting
and educating at a protest called by the NAACP outside the US
Supreme Court where approximately 200 people from around the
country gathered to protest the lack of black clerks there. Again,
many attendees were shocked to learn of H. Con Res. 254, which
had not been articulated to them by the organizers of this
demonstration, and many became enraged at the fact that this
information had not been shared with them by their own
organization. Several young people pledged to join the noontime
demonstration for Assata, while others were reluctantly forced to
return to their waiting buses and return to their home states.


THE PRESS CONFERENCE

Some confusion ensued over where the press conference was to
take place, and organizers ended up holding their press conference
quite a distance from where we (and perhaps others) thought we
would be at noontime. The press conference was covered by the
Final Call and other alternative press, including a radio interview
hurriedly and graciously facilitated by strong, determined and
committed Sis. Elisheba Ali with Bro. Bey. Press conference
participants included Demo organizer Damon McGee of Black
Autonomy International, former PP Komboa Ervin of Black
Autonomy International, former PP Herman Ferguson of the
New Afrikan Liberation Front, Sis. Marpessa of Afrikan Frontline
Network, and Sis. Mary Killington of the PG-RNA who read a
solidarity statement from Bro. Imari Obadele. The righteous
information put out at the press conference included the following
demands:

1. REPEAL House CON RES 254.

2. CONVENE hearings immediately into the COINTELPRO war
on political dissent, particularly its war on the Black Panther Party
and other Black revolutionary organizations, specifically to
make restitution to all COINTELPRO targeted victims of the
Federal Bureau of Investigations as is public record within the
findings of the Church Committee hearings.

3. PARDON AND/OR GRANT AN EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY
TO ASSATA SHAKUR and all COINTELPRO-targeted victims
forced into political exile during the war on Black revolutionaries.

4. GRANT A GENERAL AND UNCONDITIONAL AMNESTY
to all political prisoners and prisoners of war.

Although press releases had been sent out to all major news
organizations by hardworking press coordinators in D.C. and
elsewhere, and in fact many were present to cover the Clinton
"Sexgate" distraction, mainstream news organs refused to turn
their cameras our way, which was not unexpected.


THE DEMONSTRATION

As soon as we set up our picket line we were immediately beset
by police with paddy wagons and police cars with angry police
menacing demonstrators, but all were handled deftly by NCBL
attorneys Gilda Ali, Maynard Curry and Ron Issacs. In light of the
many students present, organizers grudgingly agreed to procure
the permit demanded in order to prevent mass arrests before the
demonstration even had a chance to begin as we were told by
police that our demonstration was "illegal". A grave error was
made, however, when organizers allowed the demonstration leader,
Damon McGee, to be taken to procure this permit, missing the entire
early portion of the demonstration and causing great concern
regarding his safety after his prolonged absence.

Approximately 50 persons demonstrated at the peak of this activity
including students, adults and elders from Virginia, Washington,
Philadelphia, NJ, NY, Delaware, Tennessee and Georgia (two in
wheelchairs) who chanted down the CBC and Congress for their
actions. We were constantly given a variety of orders from the
police with every step that we took, such as having too many
people picketing, too many people picketing in one place, too
many people not walking in a straight line, and other ridiculous
infringements of our First Amendment rights. Confusion
continued to abound for approximately the first half hour of our
demonstration as we were moved from place to place so rapidly
that half of our comrades were on one block while the other
half were on another block. This can never be allowed to occur
again; we were fragmented by the police and others when we
should have stayed together.

Nonetheless, this high spirited demonstration was in full swing at
approximately 12:15 despite *all* obstacles placed in our path.
Chants were righteously put forth through a karaoke machine and
Neal of the Anarchist Black Cross worked hard all day offering
"Hands Off Assata" T-shirts and informational booklets to the
dozens of passersby. Alternative news organizations videotaped
and photographed the demonstration to document the entire day
and ensure further that any actions taken against us would be
on tape, and we were much appreciative of their presence.

We then moved to the Sam Rayburn Office building where
a DC organizer had learned the CBC was "meeting"
(later discovered to have been inside emotionally
pleading for the political life of their great horny hope, Bill
Clinton). A security guard inside the building told us that we
would not confront the CBC as these cowards would probably
use an underground tunnel and not exit the front of the
building as so many other officials had during the demonstration
into their waiting limousines and taxicabs. A young man-child of
the sun shouted with great distinction: "CBC don't speak for me,
they don't want Assata free!". Passing cars honked in solidarity.
We leafletted everyone who exited and entered the building and
ended the protest by calling out the names of each CBC member
and exposing their collusion until approximately 2:30 p.m.

We received much support from Sis. JoNina Abron, Sis. Joan
Gibbs, and many too numerous to name here who, although unable
to attend, worked feverishly at our side helping defend our Sista
and doing all that they could to make this demonstration the
success that it was.

Let it further be known that we each represented close to 100
people who signed a protest letter to Maxine Waters with every
CBC member carbon copied. We demanded that each member of
the CBC publicly denounce this Resolution at a nationwide press
conference in order to hold any credibility amongst the keepers of
the revolutionary flame that propelled them into office in the first
place.


CONCERNS RAISED AND ADDRESSED:

The Steering Committee was cautioned by organizers not directly
working with the Ad Hoc Coalition who left frantic telephone
messages the morning of the demonstration that we were to keep
the focus on Assata and not on Maxine Waters, since Waters had
entered a statement on the record that she mistakenly voted "yes"
on H Con Res 254 when she meant to vote "no", had written a letter
to Fidel Castro, and had pledged to support a call for COINTELPRO
hearings on a radio program on WBAI.

In building this demonstration the focus had always been and was
not going to fail to focus on Sis. Assata -- yet still some
demonstrators brought signs with slogans like "I Support Assata
Shakur - Maxine Waters." These signs were not used during the
demonstration for some very specific reasons.

1. Organizers felt strongly that Maxine Waters would not have
attempted to distance herself from this Resolution had she not been
e-mailed, faxed and mailed letters protesting this, that writing a
letter to Fidel Castro was a desperate attempt to save face as
Castro had already stated that he would not extradite Sis. Assata
to the US during the Pope's visit to Cuba in January, and that he
was not the one posing a threat to her in the first place. Her letter
would have been taken more sincerely had it been written to her
colleagues in Congress and that she and other CBC members who
claim to have made a mistake or had reasons to not be present for
this vote needed to hold a nationwide press conference denouncing
the Resolution.

2. Maxine Waters had cursed and threatened young organizer
Damon McGee with "personally destroying him" in a 30-minute
telephone harangue at his home and his job if "you people
demonstrate on me", that she would "make certain that we paid for
taking any such action" and cursed him as an MF, SOB, "doing
the work of the white man" and that it would be "you (Damon)
and me (herself)" if he dared to continue with this "bullshit".
Elder Herman Ferguson of the NALF also publicly acknowledged
being cursed out by Maxine Waters, but her cursing our young
Bro. included threatening him as Damon related "that if the
demonstration were to occur she would come after me and crush
me. She declared it a personal vendetta." Maxine Waters'
campaign of telephone harassment extended even beyond this
young bro. and Elder Bro. Herman Ferguson, but even included
a phone call to a lawyer at her home (whose home number is
private and not listed), and demanded through her aide that
AFN distribute her letter to Castro to everyone on the internet
*immediately* upon fax receival.

Based on all of the above, organizers felt that it was more
necessary than ever to expose this arrogance and campaign of
threats and attempted intimidation in the event that any harm did
befall our young brother, Damon, and to show the true nature of
this woman who days before claimed to be in solidarity with
Assata's continued safe asylum on WBAI radio. She bragged to
former PP and veteran organizer Herman Ferguson during one of
her obscenity-laden phone calls that she had "cussed out four of five
people today" and was apparently quite emboldened by her status
as CBC chair to disrespect and threaten anyone she so chose to.

That notwithstanding, the focus of the day was *not* on Maxine
Waters at all, but on the US Congress and particularly the CBC,
of which Maxine Waters is the Chair. We reject the notion that
36 people could not recognize the significance of this bill and
could come up with so many excuses for their voting yes or not
bothering to vote at all on that day. We believe that it was
politically expedient for them to not fight this bill and to blame
human rights/political activists for not "bringing it to their
attention" was farcical and insulting as their aides and themselves
were aware of this bill since it was first introduced by Cong.
Barney Franks on 3/30/98, and if there were genuine regret on
their parts for somehow "missing" this vote, instead of blaming it
on "Republican" bogeymen that they should have quickly and very
publicly denounced the Resolution and demanded that it be
rescinded, in defense not only of Sis. Assata but of the black
activists on whose shoulders their weak-knees all stand.

3. Representatives of the CBC and some organizers had pointed
out that this Resolution had "no teeth" and in and of itself was
only an "opinion", however NCBL legal experts informed us that
this "sense of Congress" could be used as a basis for *any* attack
on our beloved Sister and was very definitely a sizeable threat to
her continued "freedom." This resolution sets a dangerous
precedent and we cannot be lulled into any sort of complacency
regarding the goals set forth very clearly within it.

From Komboa Ervin, Black Autonomy International: "There
has been very little class analysis of the Black community itself
put forward by contemporary nationalist and radical movements
since the destruction of the Black Panther Party, (and now we
even see attacks on the idea of unity with any other folks except
Blacks, even with known political sellouts and cops). In my humble
opinion, this is why so much class peace, ideological (religious
and conspiracy style) mystification, and Black radicals are now
defending people like Maxine Waters on "race unity" and other
specious grounds, or taking no action at all to defend a real
revolutionary like Assata Shakur when an alleged "friend of
Cuba" like Maxine Waters is involved, and deadly legislation is
passed. I don't think the issue is to 'keep Maxine and the CBC
informed so they can do the right thing' like some folks have said.
They will never do the right thing without mass pressure, including
demonstrations.

"I also want to make clear to everyone however, that these
demonstrations were not merely about the interests of the Cuban
state, as some have tried to characterize our resistance to H. Con.
R. 254, even as much as we are gratified over their admirable
support of this sister whom they granted asylum. No, the real issue
is her right to escape the clutches of the US government after an
unjust conviction and destruction of the Black Liberation
movement of the 1960's and 70's. This distinction must be made
clear. We do not uncritically support any government, because
governments act in their own national interests, even if that is in
conflict with the rights of an individual.

"Vis a vis any confrontation with imperialism as (part of the
international class war), we support Cuba and Assata. But we
support Assata and all political exiles even over the national
interests of their host asylum countries. I hope that no one in
Cuba is fooled by Maxine Waters, or any phony radicals who
would sacrifice (and never lift a finger to support) Assata Shakur.
I also hope that Cuba will resist this treachery by the CBC and
other so-called "progressive Black politicians". The point here I
am making is our Black liberation struggle cannot be bound by
the dictates of Cuba, Tanzania, Azania or any political party/leader
governing such a country, though we may unite in international
solidarity. We cannot ever be uncritical of any leader of a
nation-state, whether socialist or capitalist, for to do that is to
surrender to herd thinking and becoming international intellectual
groupies. That is what I consider the Western Left to be at this
time.

"I am making these comments to criticize the elements of the
so-called American Left which have made comments criticizing the
10/5 demos on grounds that they 'hurt Cuba', 'hurt Assata's
case' and slandered a 'friend of Cuba'. This is nonsense of the
worst sort and must be exposed and rejected.

"A final word: I think that the 10/5 demos, which were small
events and were in some cases disorganized, were still extremely
important in showing the CBC that they are being watched and
being challenged. It is thus a form of political accountability in
support of Assata Shakur. They also raised the issue publicly for
the first time, and they separate our true friends and revolutionary
internationalists from poseurs, political groupies, and Left wing
cultists. Where were they when we needed them to help defend
Assata? Defending Maxine instead...in one form or another.
ONLY THE TRUTH IS REVOLUTIONARY."

4. Youngblood comrade organizer Mustafa Qadir wrote that:
"We suffered from the physical non-support of so-called
revolutionaries and Afrikan organizations at these emergency
demos for Assata Shakur. i think We should stress the
importance of creating ALLIANCE with one another, especially
around someone We all seem to admire. Assata deserves the full
support of all Afrikan organizations and this may be a good time
to stress that. We got all these negroes screaming black this black
that, but when it comes down to supporting and acting on behalf
of Afrikan people, those negroes are nowhere to be found. Where
were all the college students, frats, sororities, Afrikan and
New Afrikan organizations based right in DC?

"For future demos/rallys/events maybe We can form some type of
Afrikan Alliance Collective, a group of Afrikans who have
communication access to Afrikan organizations. With this type of
collective, We can begin to confirm which Afrikan organizations
will be able to give time, energy, funds, and people to certain
events or around certain issues affecting Our struggle for
liberation."

5. Although we chanted "Keep Assata Free" during our demo,
after a lengthy discussion following the demo organizers
determined that Assata and other political exiles should not be
considered "free" at all, in fact, they are still imprisoned in their
countries of asylum, kept away from their loved ones and
birthplace with the constant threat of US retaliation more present
now than ever, making them Political Prisoners in Exile as they
are still imprisoned.

6. A follow-up activity was proposed to be held at the UN on
Black Solidarity Day (11/2/98) and supporters are strongly
encouraged to continue to hold events to give those opposed to the
planned kidnapping of Assata Shakur a permanent voice in all
alternative gatherings.


SUMMATION

Our work was fruitful and these emergency demos, no matter what
their physical number, were successful. They happened first and
foremost despite and in spite of external pressure. We tread over
hot coals, fought off snakes, pushed away scorpions and spiders,
and still put fear in the white government and its negro
lackeys.

This movement must catch fire and Assata must be part of *every*
campaign going on around human rights/political prisoners, we
encourage everyone to take a leading role in pushing forward on
our Sista's behalf, forcing the issue of H Con Res 254 and
freedom and amnesty for our political prisoners BACK TO THE
TABLE and exposing the wickedness of those who purport to be
working on our collective behalf. We must be so consistent and
visible on this matter that the veil of silence, secrecy and betrayal
be lifted for the whole world to see. We will not quietly let them
sign a death warrant for our Sista, we will not go away, we will
not stop fighting for real freedom for our Sista, for if she is not
safe, then none of us are safe. Let it be known that this
demonstration was conceived by *one young brother* who said,
"HELL NO," he would not accept this, and that for this young
man to be threatened to be "destroyed" by the CBC Chairperson
*is* an outrage that will *not* go unnoticed or be hushed up.

This demonstration was a beginning that put such fear and alarm
in the enemy around the issues of PP'S, POW'S, and EXILES that
ridiculous lies and outrageous attacks were beset upon the
organizers of this demonstration since DAY ONE. Committee
members believe that it also was successful in that folks joined us
in simultaneous demonstrations in Chicago, Michigan, New York,
and in other areas. We should build this coalition and force this
government to fulfill our demands for *concrete* follow-through
on the Church Committee hearings with total and unconditional
amnesty for all PP's, POW's, and Exiles. We want Sis. Assata
and all of our freedom fighters home with us. The true
success of this effort is whether or not we continue.... and we
must. We love our Sista Assata and will continue to let the world
know!

KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!
HANDS OFF ASSATA!
HANDS OFF CUBA!
+++++++++++++++++++++
(END)



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