[Ppnews] Hands Off Assata Campaign official statement

PPnews at freedomarchives.org PPnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri May 13 16:22:57 EDT 2005


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.
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.  Sundiata at age 68 continues to languish in prison 32 years 
later, having been denied parole repeatedly.
Assata Shakur 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 political objectives.
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.
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 Assata's return.
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 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 "election" results.
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 months.
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.  Things went from the sublime to the 
ridiculous. Roger Noriega, the top State Department official for Western 
Hemisphere affairs, claimed he didn't know if Posada was in the United 
States. That revelation didn't impress many people.
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 
for Bush.
However, the timing couldn't have been better 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 terrorist.
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 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 in the killing of law 
enforcement officers between 1993 and 2002.  Should we expect that the next 
political announcement will be that those 785 individuals have also been 
placed on the domestic terrorism list?  Is murder of a police officer the 
criteria? If so, then should we expect the list to increase by at least 785?
Perhaps, the commission of a heinous act makes one a terrorist. That would 
certainly get Bosch and Posada on the list, so it can't be that. What about 
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 apartment?  Will they 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? 
Can 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.  Will the names of the convicted abortion clinic bombers be 
added to the list? Were the officers who beat, assaulted and sodomized 
young Abner Louima terrorists? What about the soldiers who shot unarmed 
detainees in Guantanamo?
In this political era we find the terrorism label abused and manipulated. 
It is an outrage that this government would offend the sensitivities of the 
American public by labeling Assata as 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 activities.
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 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.

hoa at afrocubaweb.com

The Freedom Archives
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San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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