[Ppnews] 1998 Sundiata & CCR on Assata
PPnews at freedomarchives.org
PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 3 16:15:47 EDT 2005
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
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!
CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS
New York, N.Y. 10012
(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.
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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