Assata Main Page
What Is The Hands Off Assata
Campaign? 7/05 includes a what you can do section
Assata Shakur: Woman, Exile, Artist, Mother,
Congress attempts to further Assata Kidnapping,
Assata Shakur, 2005: The million dollar bounty:
news clips outline the story
HOA to show film on Assata in
Official Response to Announcement of $1 million Bounty and the Listing of ASSATA SHAKUR on Domestic Terrorist Watch List,
The Hands off Assata Campaign and
the Office of Councilman Charles Barron call for support,
Wednesday, May 25 at 1:30pm
City Hall, New York City
Common Gets Props From HOA, 4/18/00
Assata Shakur pages on AfroCubaWeb
Posada Carriles: a US terrorist
Black Radical Congress
Malcolm X Grassroots
National Conference of Black Lawyers
IFCO/Pastors for Peace
League for Peace and
New Afrikan Peoples
National Alliance Against
Racist and Political
California Coalition for Women Prisoners
HOA - Hands Off Assata!
Happy Birthday Assata! 10/06
HOA has a web site at www.handsoffassata.org.
[No longer functional]
HOA has an impressive list of sponsors, including Angela Y. Davis,
Susan Taylor, Khephra Burns, Charles Mingus, III, Asha Bandele, Malcolm X
Grassroots Movement, Hands Off Assata Campaign, National Center For Human
Rights Education, Affinity, National Conference Of Black Lawyers, and the Black Radical Congress.
HOA petition to
Chicago City Council, 9/05
The HOA/Chicago Coalition is mounting a city-wide petition campaign to
encourage its city council to pass a resolution against the $1million
bounty and the putting of Assata on the terrorist Watch List. If you are
from Chicago, please sign the petition below, if you are not, please form
a coaltion and develop your own demands based on your own city's needs. We
in Chicago are sure that $1millions could be better spent on schools,
healthcare, and affordable housing, and that our representatives
"would not" support prosecutorial misconduct. Please
join the Petition Campaign! Once done send to this HOA website.
What Is The Hands Off Assata Campaign?
The Hands Off Assata Campaign is a coming together of organizations and individuals who are outraged by the heightened attempts by Department of Justice and the State of New Jersey to illegally force a return of Assata Shakur from Cuba to the United States.
We believe that Assata Shakur is a bona fide political exile living in the island nation of Cuba. She was persecuted for her political beliefs and tortured while in prison. We support the international human rights and Geneva conventions, which enabled her to seek and secure political asylum in Cuba, and we support the right of the Cuban people to grant it to her. We are shocked by the issuing on May 2nd, 2005 of a $1million bounty/reward on head of Assata Shakur and the adding of her name to the “terrorist” watch list. Doing such a thing is tantamount to a call to "soldiers of fortune" to kidnap and kill Ms. Shakur and for them to engage in international espionage against the sovereign nation of Cuba. Given that there is no binding extradition treaty between Cuba and the United States, such a request is outside the context of international law. In addition, it is outside the parameters of common sense to label Ms. Shakur a terrorist. To do so is against all internationally held definitions of terrorism; and is an affront to those who have experienced it and/or studied it. Moreover, to say that bounty hunters should view her as “120 pounds of money” smacks of the tracking down of runaway slaves and vigilante violence, which is clearly immoral, unethical and anti-human. Thus, we call on the State of New Jersey & the US Government to rescind the bounty, to remove Ms. Shakur from the terrorist watch list, to respect international law, and to end the hostility towards the tiny nation of Cuba by normalizing relations with the Island and ending the US economic blockade.
What can you do?
1) Contact us so that we can add your organization's name to our list of endorsers.
2) Contact your Congressperson. Demand that he/she work to overturn this diabolical bounty and listing of Ms. Shakur on the terrorist Watch list.
3) Call or write to New Jersey State Police Superintendent, Rick Fuentes New Jersey State Police, P.O. Box 7068, West Trenton, NJ 08628. 609-882-2000 and the State Attorney General Peter Harvey 609-984-6500;
http://www.nj.gov/lps/contactus.htm, and demand that that they rescind the bounty and remove Ms. Skakur from the terrorist watch list.
4) Plan a showing of the Film Eyes on the Rainbow (1996). This film portrays the life and current struggles of Assata
5) Join the Petition Campaign
Woman, Exile, Artist, Mother, 7/05
|ASSATA SHAKUR is an African-American woman. She is a social justice activist, a poet, an artist, a mother and a grandmother. She has lived in Cuba since the early 1980s. During the heady days of the 1960s and 1970s, she found herself a victim of both racial profiling and political targeting. After being spotted on the New Jersey turnpike on May 2, 1973, because she is black, it was discovered that she and her two companions were known members of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army. Like Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, Leonard Peltier and many members of the Civil Rights and American Indian Movements, Assata and her companions had been watched, their phones tapped, their families monitored, their organizations infiltrated, and widespread disinformation campaigns waged against them. They were like many activists of the day --targets of the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). In fact, Assata was wanted, not for anything she had actually done, but for a variety of crimes that government and state officials were trying to pin on her. This was common in the 1970s: discredit the voice of activists by painting them as criminals, trumping up indictments, tying them up in courts and if possible jailing them. In the mid 1970s, The Church Committee of the Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations and the Domestic Intelligence Subcommittee, headed by Senator Walter Mondale, provided incontrovertible documentation of a government sponsored conspiracy against the civil and human rights of all sorts of political activists.
THUS ON THAT DAY IN MAY, Assata was a marked woman. And after police stopped them, a shoot out occurred. When the smoke cleared one police officer, and one of Assata's companions, Zayd Shakur lay dead. Assata, shot and dragged from the car, lay wounded. Only belatedly taken to the hospital, Assata was then chained to her bed, tortured and questioned while injured. In fact, she never received adequate medical attention even though she had a broken clavicle and a paralyzed arm. Nonetheless, she was quickly jailed, prosecuted and incarcerated over the next few years for the series of trumped up cases. Interestingly, in five separate trials, and with largely white juries, charges were dismissed because of lack of evidence or she was acquitted of all charges ranging from bank robbery to murder. As the manager of one bank said at trial - she is just not the one who robbed my bank. Only in the final trial in 1977, where she was charged with the Turnpike killings, was she found guilty. This even though forensic evidence taken that day showed that she had not fired a weapon. She was sentenced to life + 33 years in prison. In 1979, and after nearly six years behind bars, she escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey and some time later emerged in Cuba where she applied for and received political asylum. Since being in Cuba, she has continued her college education, published an autobiography, and writes on global issues facing women, youth, and people of color.
Since 1990, rightist politicians and police bodies have reinvigorated their attempts to pursue Assata Shakur. They do this even though Assata has not tried to re-enter the United States and is, according to international law, a political exile that should be left alone. First linking "fear of crime" rhetoric with anti-Cuban sentiment, New Jersey governor Christine Todd-Whitman issued a $50,000, then $100,000 bounty on the head of Assata Shakur. Then in 1998, New Jersey and Florida legislators introduced and got passed - House Resolution 254 - which calls for the Cuban government to extradite Assata Shakur as a condition to normalizing US-Cuba relations.
And on May 2nd, 2005, the Department of Justice in connection with the State Police of New Jersey issued a bounty of $1 million bounty on Assata and is openly encouraging police bodies and bounty hunters to kidnap her. Interestingly, while Assata and Cuba are portrayed as "criminal", terrorist bombings, a political smear campaign, and ugly hostile economic acts have been stepped up against Cuba. Cuban citizens and foreign tourists have been killed and injured, and the US blockade against Cuba is making it almost impossible for Cubans and US-Americans to build any kind of meaningful relationship, dialogue or peace.
Congress attempts to further Assata Kidnapping,
|6/15/05 - for Immediate Release, HOA
There is an attempt to further the kidnapping of Assata Shakur. We
received the following from a member of the Congressional Black
There will be an amendment offered tonight or tomorrow on
the Science, State, Justice and Commerce (SSJC) Appropriations Bill
HR 2862 by Representative Fossella (R-NY) or King (R-NY)
regarding U.S. fugitives in Cuba.
"Reps. Vito J. Fossella, R-N.Y., and Peter T. King, R-N.Y. will
offer an amendment providing that, of
the funds made available for diplomatic and consular affairs for the
U.S. Interests Section in Havana, an appropriate amount of such
funds would be used to disseminate the names of fugitives, such as
Joanne Chesimard (Assata Shakur) and William Morales, who are
residing in Cuba, as well as provide any rewards for their
What this means is that more money will be funnelled to the US
offices in Cuba to further instigate the capture of Assata. Please
call your Congressional representative today. Ask for their
legislative aid on Cuba and tell them to vote NO on this Bill.
Official Response to Announcement of $1 million Bounty and the Listing of ASSATA SHAKUR on Domestic Terrorist Watch List,
For Immediate Release
OFF ASSATA CAMPAIGN
On May 2nd the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the
New Jersey Troopers publicly announced a $1 million bounty for the capture
of Assata Shakur. May 2nd also marked the 32nd
anniversary of the fatal shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that resulted
in the deaths Trooper Werner Foerster and Zayd Shakur, and left Assata
Shakur and Sundiata Acoli wounded. Assata
and Sundiata were both tried and convicted in separate trials for the
deaths of Werner Foerster and Zayd Shakur.
For more than three
decades the FBI has attempted to demonize Assata Shakur. She is a mother
and grandmother, author and artist. She is politically astute and
intellectually sharp. She is warm, humble and spiritual. Years ago, the
FBI labeled Assata “the heart and soul of the Black Liberation Army”.
They issued all sorts of defamatory statements about her. As a result she
was hunted like an animal by law enforcement agencies all over the
country, as were many other Black Panther Party and BLA members. She has
been used by the FBI as a symbol in various ways to further their
Convicted of murder for
the death of a New Jersey State Trooper in 1977, Assata has been living in
exile in Cuba. She is not convicted for any other incident or crime. In 1998 the New Jersey Troopers petitioned Pope John Paul II
as he prepared for his historic visit to Cuba and meeting with President
Fidel Castro. They wanted him to pressure President Castro to return
Assata to the United States. The Pope flatly turned down their request but
did advise then President Clinton that the United States needed to end the
senseless and inhumane blockade against Cuba.
For years the New Jersey
Troopers have held an annual commemoration ceremony for Trooper Werner
Foerster in early May. Each year the local New Jersey papers print several
stories about the events of May 2, 1973 that took place on the New Jersey
Turnpike. Periodically various New Jersey officials have issued different
statements sometimes accusing Assata and at other times accusing her
co-defendant, Sundiata Acoli, of killing Foerster.
Former New Jersey
Governor, Christie Todd Whitman, curried political favor with the
state’s police when she announced a bounty of $25,000 for Assata and
later doubled it to $50,000. She was duly rewarded by President Bush who
appointed her in 2001 to be the head of the Environmental Protection
Agency. The bounty was
quietly increased by the FBI to a million dollars as it crept around the
country looking for relatives, friends and associates to enlist in its
scheme to kidnap Assata and return her to the United States. Time and time
again, the FBI offered them a million dollars for their services. To some,
they stated that there was no limit to how much they would pay for
The obsession shared by
the New Jersey State Troopers and the FBI for Assata is highly unusual
unless you examine the larger political picture and international affairs.
Since the victorious Cuban Revolution in 1959, the United States
has engaged in an ongoing campaign to assassinate President Castro and
overthrow the Cuban government. No fewer than 23 assassination attempts
have been documented. Then in 1961 the failed Bay of Pigs attempt by
President John F. Kennedy to invade and overthrow President Castro brought
international embarrassment to the United States.
The Bay of Pigs debacle was one of many government attempts to use
and bow to the wishes of the powerful Miami based Cuban exile community.
This is the same power base that Florida Governor Jeb Bush answers
to and his brother, George W., is beholden to for the 2000 and 2004
Since the rise to power of
Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez in 1998, the United States has greedily
watched as political links developed between Cuba and Venezuela. What does
Venezuela have that the United States wants? Oil! What does Cuba have that the United States wants? It occupies
a strategic geographic location that would enable the United States to
militarily control the Caribbean. Of course Cuba also has the tenacity to
show the people of the world that there is another way to exist. It is
possible for education and health care to be guaranteed to every citizen.
It is possible for every citizen to have a home and most importantly, hope
for the future. It is a
sovereign nation with the right to grant asylum whenever it sees fit.
Equally important is that the majority of the Cuban population is
of African descent. The
significance of this fact is not lost on the other Third World nations
around the globe.
The United States’ CIA
has boldly intervened in Venezuelan affairs and aided in the failed coup
there in 2002. Bitter to
admit defeat, the United States continued to look for ways to provoke a
confrontation with President Chavez.
They found it in Luis Posada Carriles. In fact, Posada provides
Bush with a two for one shot at Chavez and Castro. For many years Posada
has been a CIA operative. He is wanted in Venezuela for his role in the
1976 shoot down of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 civilians including the
national fencing team. He escaped from prison there. In 1998 he claimed
responsibility for planning attacks on various Cuban establishments
including the 1997 bombing of a tourist hotel that resulted in the death
of an Italian tourist and the wounding of 11 others. In 2000 Posada was
arrested in Panama for plotting to murder President Castro during the
Ibero-American summit being held in that country. He was convicted and sentenced to eight years. In November
2004, the outgoing Panamanian President, Mireya Moscoso, pardoned Posada
allegedly in exchange for $4 million paid by a Cuban American. Money
talked and Posada walked, disappearing from public view for several
In March 2005, he surfaced
in Miami. His lawyer, Eduardo Soto, admitted a few weeks later that Posada
was in Miami as he filed his petition for political asylum. House of Representative William Delahunt (D-Mass) stated
recently, “I can’t imagine how one could defend a terrorist where
there exists overwhelming evidence that he was responsible or a
co-conspirator in blowing up a civilian airliner.”
To many the revelation that Posada is in the country is shocking.
But they were apparently unaware that his co-conspirator, Orlando Bosch,
has been living comfortably in Miami for at least the past two years. The
revelation of Posada’s presence in the United States set off a tidal
wave of international and domestic criticism including accusations of
political hypocrisy. President Castro called on President Bush to return
Posada to Venezuela. Many
demanded that the United States not allow Posada to remain in the country.
But the role of Bosch and
Posada as terrorists is indisputable. They plotted, murdered, bombed
innocents and bragged about it. So what could Bush do? He tried denying
that Posada was in the country but Posada’s lawyer had already said that
he was. Roger Noriega, top
State Department official for Western Hemisphere affairs, claimed he had
no knowledge of Posada’s whereabouts; again, hard to believe. Things, as
one can see, went from the sublime to the ridiculous.
Meanwhile President Castro
issued a series of statements about Posada’s presence in the United
States and accused Bush of harboring of a terrorist.
His comments grabbed the attention of the local media and hit a
sympathetic nerve. It was impossible to explain Posada’s presence in the
United States after the numerous public statements Bush had made about
terrorists. Perhaps the most memorable of these is “If you harbor a
terrorist, you are a terrorist.” Things were getting very ugly very fast
However, the timing
couldn’t have been better (for the Bush administration) since the
anniversary of the New Jersey Turnpike incident was fast approaching.
Here was an opportunity to “save face” and take another stab at
Castro. A miserably
transparent attempt to deflect attention from the political embarrassment
of Posada’s presence developed overnight.
In the blink of an eye,
Assata was suddenly placed on the domestic terrorist list. How very
convenient. Now Bush could aim a similar accusation at Castro, harboring a
Turning back to Assata and
her 1973 chance encounter with Trooper Foerster on the New Jersey
Turnpike, it can hardly be labeled a terrorist act or plot no matter how
you characterize the facts. No doubt she and her companions did not plan
on the events of May 2, 1973. They didn’t plan or provoke any encounter
with the police nor did they brag about Trooper Foerster’s death.
Who defines a terrorist?
What actions define a terrorist? Is
it a politically manipulated designation used to further the agendas of
the present administration? While
there is certainly no agreed upon definition of 'terrorism' even the
U.S. State Department's self-serving definition that it involves
"premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against
non-combatant targets" rules out the incident on the NJ Turnpike
which was - by all accounts - initiated by the troopers in a state
notoriously known for racial profiling on the Turnpike.
Assata stands convicted
(the result of a highly politicized trial) of one criminal act, the murder
of Trooper Foerster. The U.S.
Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs reports that the FBI
identified 785 assailants convicted in the killing of law enforcement
officers between 1993 and 2002. Should
we expect that the next political announcement to be that those 785
individuals have also been placed on the domestic terrorism list?
Is a murder conviction of a police officer the criteria? If so,
then should we expect the list to increase by at least 785?
Perhaps, the commission of
any heinous act makes one a terrorist. If so, what of the joint team of
FBI agents and Chicago police that murdered Black Panther leaders, Fred
Hampton and Mark Clark, in their sleep during in a pre-dawn raid at their
they not be named as terrorists? When now, Reverend, then Mayor, Wilson
Goode ordered the bombing of the MOVE headquarters located at 6221 Osage
Avenue in Philadelphia in 1985 that killed 11 people including 5 children,
and resulted in the destruction of the entire neighborhood, including 62
homes, was that an act of terrorism? Should we expect to see his name
added to the list? Were the New York City Police Officers who shot and
killed the unarmed grandmother, Eleanor Bumpers, during an apartment
eviction, terrorists? They murdered her. Maybe the members of New York’s
finest that fired 41 bullets at unarmed immigrant Amadou Diallo will have
their names added to the list of domestic terrorists.
If this be the case, should not the names of the convicted abortion
clinic bombers be added to the list? Are the officers who beat, assaulted
and sodomized young Abner Louima terrorists? What about the soldiers who
shot unarmed detainees in Guantanamo?
In this current climate we
find the terrorism label abused and manipulated. Political motivations,
not international law, or ethical sensibilities, are increasingly being
used to determine who is and who is not defined as a terrorist. It is an
outrage that this government would offend the sensitivities of the
American public by labeling Assata Shakur a terrorist.
In 1976 the Senate Select
Subcommittee headed by Senator Frank Church of Utah issued its report on
the activities of the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO).
That Program was aimed at destroying any political dissent in the
country. Among its targets were Rev. Martin Luther King, Kwame Ture’ (f.k.a.
Stokely Carmichael) Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, the Black
Liberation Army, the New Left, the Weather Underground, the American
Indian Movement, the Puerto Rican independence movement and the Communist
Party. Led by J. Edgar
Hoover, the FBI left no stone unturned and no dirty trick untried. Part of
this campaign was to criminalize legitimate political movements and
individuals. The FBI maimed, murdered and imprisoned hundreds of political
activists. The Report concluded that “Many of the techniques used would
be intolerable in a democratic society even if all the targets had been
involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that.”
The condemnation of the FBI practices temporarily limited its
However, in 2001 the FBI
was able to publicly reinstitute all the previously condemned COINTELPRO
practices under the guise of the Patriot Act. Increased surveillance of
political organizations and individuals began. Harassment, arrest,
incarceration and intimidation of political activists have once again been
restored as “acceptable” police practices.
This recent labeling of
Assata as a terrorist is done as part of the broader campaign to demonize
and criminalize political dissent and resistance.
This agenda was begun by the previous United States Attorney
General, John Ashcroft. All over the country FBI agents started
questioning and harassing past and present political activists.
In courtrooms and filed documents, the FBI and U.S. Attorneys began
referring to domestic political activists as terrorists. The label has far
reaching implications. The
First Amendment is in serious danger and so is anyone who dares to
exercise their rights under its protections.
The convergence of
Posada’s entry into the United States, the hardening of relations with
Cuba under Bush mandated Executive orders, and the otherwise inexplicable
labeling of Assata as a terrorist fit well into a much broader politically
motivated scheme. Her name
must immediately be removed from the list and the bounty offer rescinded.
For more information,
contact handsoff_AT_afrocubaweb.com [_AT_ = @]