[Pnews] Assata Shakur and plight of U.S. political prisoners, 'unfinished business'
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Nov 13 17:18:12 EST 2013
Assata Shakur and plight of U.S. political prisoners, 'unfinished
By Askia Muhammad <http://www.twitter.com/askiaphotojourn> -Senior
Editor- | Last updated: Nov 13, 2013
WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) - After nearly 55 years of punishing U.S.
economic sanctions strangling the Cuban people and their revolutionary
government, there is fear now that a $2 million bounty placed on the
head of escaped Black Liberation Army (BLA) leader Assata Shakur, could
lead a desperate person on the island to try to assassinate her in order
to collect the bounty on her head, this according to Lennox Hinds, a
professor in the Criminal Justice Program at Rutgers University, and
attorney of record for Ms. Shakur.
"I would not be surprised," Mr. Hinds told /The Final Call/, "if (Pres.
Barack Obama) does not give the order for them to send the (Navy) Seals
to infiltrate and capture her" on the Caribbean island.
Mr. Hinds joined dozens of activists from around the country Nov. 2, at
the Law School of the University of the District of Columbia, at a
"celebration" and all-day series of educational workshops organized by
the Jericho Movement <http://www.thejerichomovement.com/> for freedom
for political prisoners on the anniversary of the "liberation of Assata
Shakur," from U.S. imprisonment for a crime her supporters insist she
did not commit.
"The only way that we can change that, is to force the people around
him, that is the people of conscience, to educate him on who she is,"
Mr. Hinds continued.
"At this moment she is a 'terrorist.' Who is a terrorist? Another client
of mine---Nelson Mandela---he was on the terrorist watch list, okay? Why
was he on the terrorist watch list? Many members of Congress (said), 'Is
he on the terrorist watch list? We're surprised.' There they are trying
to take pictures with him. Right?" he added, speaking of the 95 year-old
former South African president and freedom fighter.
"But he's a terrorist because an ally of the United States---apartheid
South Africa---said he was a terrorist," Mr. Hinds explained. "Everybody
thought he had horns and a tail. The ANC (African National Congress) was
a terrorist organization, and so they put them on the terrorist watch
list. They put her on the terrorist watch list (Ms. Shakur). We have to
change that dynamic and it's possible to do that."
Assata Shakur has always maintained that when she was in captivity, she
was a political prisoner in the war that elements of the U.S. government
has waged against African people since their capture and enslavement on
these shores, the Jericho Movement insists.
In May, 1973 she was arrested after she was wounded in a shootout on the
New Jersey Turnpike in which Black Liberation Army member Zayd Malik
Shakur and state trooper Werner Foerster were killed. She was charged
with a laundry list of crimes attributed to the BLA, including murder,
bank robbery, and kidnapping.
"It was a classic case of profiling," attorney Nkechi Taifa told /The
Final Call,/ "in which the car they were riding ostensibly had a broken
taillight. The FBI and the state troopers knew who they were following,
knew who they were looking for and it was pure harassment as described
in the COINTELPRO (Counter Intelligence Program)
<http://www.noi.org/cointelpro> to arrest activists on any type of
charge, put them in jail, have them spend up their resources on legal
matters and spend the rest of the summer in jail. That was really the
reason in which they were stopped.
"Assata was shot with her hands in the air, seated," Atty. Taifa
continued. "That was proven by three neurologists during the trial, who
talked about the bullets that entered her, and the only way they could
have entered was with her hands in the air. Yet, she was convicted of
the death of one of the state troopers, despite the fact again, that it
was proven that she never shot any weapon. There was no
residue---gunpowder residue---on her hands" or clothing.
Although she was charged with committing a series of bank robberies
along the East Coast, she was either acquitted, or the charges against
her were dropped in each case, Atty. Taifa explained.
"She considers herself a modern-day escaped slave on the Underground
Railroad, similar to Harriet Tubman. Back in the day, Harriet Tubman had
a $12,000 bounty on her head. Today, Assata Shakur has a $2 million bounty.
That means that anybody who might be feeling the impact of economic
demise who sees her on the streets of Havana, has the legal license to
kill her and get a reward, or turn her in and get a reward."
Today, she is No. 1 on the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" terrorist list, the
first woman so listed, even though the crimes of which she was accused
were acts of defiance of the secret, illegal, U.S. domestic spying
program, and were certainly not considered to be acts of "terror" at
that time, Atty. Taifa insisted.
"There is unfinished business since the Civil Rights era. And that
unfinished business is the plight of the political prisoners who are
still languishing in prison as a result of that era's" illegal actions
against Black people."
Despite arguments from critics labeling Ms. Shakur and others as
otherwise, they are not common criminals said the attorney.
"These are people who answered the cry from thousands and thousands that
something must be done about all of this madness. This madness of Black
men's hearts being cut out in Buffalo, N.Y., this madness of Black women
being shot at in Chattanooga, Tenn.
"These are the things that were happening in the '60s and '70s that the
Black Liberation Army, which was an offshoot of the Black Panther Party,
decided that they would seek to do something about it. And it is in the
context in the context of that era that many people are still languishing."
Many of those who have been identified by the Jericho Movement and its
allies which organized the celebration as political prisoners are
Muslims. Many, like Imam Jamil El Amin became Muslims after getting
involved in the Black liberation movement, according to Masai Ehehosi, a
member of the Republic of New Africa who now advocates the complete
"destruction" of the prison-industrial complex, after spending 14 years
in prison as a result of his own participation in the BLA.
"Imam Jamil El Amin, a man formerly known as H. Rap Brown may come up a
few times in this conversation," Mr. Ehehosi told the assembly, "because
among other things, not only was the organization that he was a part of
in the early days---SNCC (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee)
one of the specific targets of the Counter Intelligence Program---but
he's also one of the individuals who was named specifically as a target
when they talked about 'how do we stop the development of a Black
Messiah, able to unify and electrify the people.'
"You'll see why there's a lot of reasons why the oppressor would in fact
fear (the Muslim) community. Sometimes we come to the question where
folks try to take us outside of the folds of Islam. That's not the way
we view it at all. Some folks would like to fall back on the fact that
he's in there because of being H. Rap Brown. We just think that H. Rap
Brown was a man of character.
"So the state targeted him from the beginning because they knew his
character. When he became a Muslim he became more of a threat. He said
he loves Allah more than he loves the state. Imam Jamil was one of the
ones who said 'fascism is here in America. Fascism is coming and they're
going to call it patriotism," said Mr. Ehehosi.
There is indisputable evidence that the government has "preemptively"
targeted Muslims for prosecution and incarceration, as a part of the
scheme to "build the surveillance state with political prisoners," and
it comes from attorney Stephen F. Downs, who spent his professional
career as the chief attorney for the New York State Commission on
Judicial Conduct, disciplining bad judges.
Mr. Downs, founder of Project SALAM, has worked closely with more than
100---mostly Muslim---defendants and inmates who were pre-selected for
prosecution before they committed any crimes.
When the trial of one Muslim defendant was over, "I was convinced, along
with a lot of other people, that the government had deliberately framed
an innocent man," Mr. Downs told the assembly. "It wasn't just that they
had made a mistake. They understood exactly who he was and what he was
"He was a peaceful man. He was not involved in terrorism. And they
framed him anyway. We were mystified by this. In my professional career
I had never seen a case like that. I had seen people wrongfully
convicted, but never in the same kind of deliberate, almost angry way,
by the government, taking down someone who was innocent. We began to
look around the country to try to find other people.
"Pretty soon we began to find a lot of people," he said. All of them had
one thing in common; they were part of a patter on what he calls
"preemptive prosecution." Victims of the practice were enticed or
entrapped into committing crimes, often at the hands of provocateurs who
were forgiven of terrible crimes, and often given handsome cash rewards
for their efforts.
This government overreaching, however, may eventually spell the end of
the practice of preemptive prosecution. "I was very depressed a couple
of months ago. We didn't seem to be going anywhere," Mr. Downs said in
response to a question from /The Final Call,/ "and then along came
"Snowden's leak, I think will turn out to be one of the pivotal moments
in American history, because he changed the debate. Suddenly, White
folks began to see that they were being treated like Muslims. I've
always felt that we're going to win when we get the people to fear the
government more than they fear the Muslims.
"People have to understand that Muslims are simply being used as the
excuse. They are creating the fear. To have 'national security' you have
to a war? All of these folks up here are part of a fake war, a phony war
that justifies going in and violating the Constitution. All of this
security state violates the Constitution he added.
"Inevitably, if you give the government that much power, they're going
to overreach. Once they overreach, we have an opportunity to join
together, but we've got to join together," to combat the surveillance
state," said Mr. Downs.
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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