[Ppnews] Hands off Assata! - City College NY

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Feb 9 08:59:21 EST 2007


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Assata Shakur: A woman warrior
Friday, February 9, 2007
By: Alina Serrano

'Hands off Assata!'

The writer a student at City College of the City 
University of New York. This article first 
appeared in the February 2007 issue of 
<http://socialismandliberation.org/mag/index.php?aid=751>Socialism 
and Liberation.org.

In December 2006, a gain won 17 years ago by City 
University of New York’s City College students 
came under sudden attack. A right-wing media 
campaign prompted CUNY chancellor Matthew 
Goldstein and the college’s administration to 
demand that students take down the sign above the 
student center. The center had been named the 
"Guillermo Morales/Assata Shakur Community and 
Student Center" in the wake of massive 1989 protests against tuition increases.

Morales and Shakur were both City College 
students in the 1960s. Morales is a Puerto Rican revolutionary and active in

the Armed Forces for National Liberation (FALN), 
a group fighting for Puerto Rico’s independence 
and liberation. Shakur was a member of the Black 
Panther Party and later the Black Liberation 
Army. Both are currently living as political exiles in Cuba.

The media campaign against the Morales/Shakur 
Center was carefully timed. It opened up only 
days after New York City cops shot and killed 
23-year-old Sean Bell in a hail of 50 bullets. It 
was a deliberate attempt to divert public attention from the cop murder.

But the campaign also became an opportunity for 
today’s students to learn about a great revolutionary Black woman hero.

Assata Shakur was born JoAnne Chesimard. She took 
the name Assata meaning "she who struggles" and 
Shakur meaning "the thankful one." She became 
politically active as a student at CUNY’s 
Manhattan Community College and later at City College.

She joined the Black Panther Party, where she 
worked with the Harlem office. In her 
autobiography, she describes the challenge of 
doing revolutionary work­she set up a Saturday 
liberation school for young people­in the midst 
of severe police repression and the FBI’s 
counter-intelligence program COINTELPRO.

After she left the Panthers, she began working 
with the underground Black Liberation Army. "I 
wasn’t one who believed that we should wait until 
our political struggle had reached a high point 
before we began to organize the underground," she wrote.

In the course of that work, Shakur was arrested 
on a series of charges ranging from robbery to 
attempted murder. Each time she was acquitted.

But in 1973, she was arrested in an incident on 
the New Jersey Turnpike in which a cop was 
killed. She was shot. One of her comrades, Zayd 
Shakur, was killed and the other, Sundiata Acoli, 
was sentenced to prison for the confrontation. He 
was recently denied parole for another 20 years.

Shakur charges that she and her co-defendants 
"were convicted [of killing the cop] in the news 
media way before our trials." During the highway 
confrontation, later forensics investigation 
proved that she was shot in the back while her 
hands were raised, and evidence showed that she did not fire a gun.

Shakur currently lives in Cuba as an exile. In 
1979, supporters helped her to escape from 
prison. In 1986, she was given asylum in Cuba, 
where she continues to fight for equality, 
freedom and revolution for the Black and Latino 
masses and all the working class.

Assata Shakur is a woman warrior who has worked 
and sacrificed tirelessly in the struggle. She 
belongs in the legacy of African American 
abolitionists like Harriet Tubman, who worked to 
free hundreds of slaves, and Ida B. Wells, who 
fought for Black people’s rights and women’s rights.

Throughout the history of the African American 
people’s struggles, women heroes have shown that 
the only way to a better life was to organize and 
fight in a disciplined way. Shakur acted with 
great dignity and courage when she stood up to 
federal government and state repression 
throughout her trials. She would very likely not 
be alive and in Cuba if it were not for the 
well-organized communities that respected her work.

To this day, Shakur needs the support of the 
progressive movement in the United States. The 
right-wing campaign at City College is part of a 
larger, well-organized effort to recapture her. 
In 2005, she was classified as a "domestic 
terrorist" by the U.S. government and had a $1 million bounty put on her head.

Assata has said, "All I represent is just another 
slave that they want to bring back to the 
plantation. Well, I might be a slave, but I will 
go to my grave a rebellious slave."


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