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