Open Letter from Assata Shakur
My name is Assata Shakur, and 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 toward people of color. I am an ex-political prisoner, and I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984.
I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the government has done everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black Panther Party. By 1969, the party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI's COINTELPRO program. Because the party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country" and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists.
In 1978, my case was one of many cases bought before the United Nations in a petition filed by the National Conference of Black Lawyers, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression and the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, exposIng the existence of political prisoners in the United States, their political persecution and the cruel and inhuman treatment they receive in U.S. prisons.
According to the report:
the FBI, and the New York Police Department in particular, charged and accused Assata Shakur of participating in attacks on law-enforcement personnel and widely circulated such charges and accusations among police agencies and units. The FBI and the NYPD further charged her with being a leader of the Black Liberation Army, which the government and its respective agencies described as an organization engaged in the shooting of police officers. This description of the Black Liberation Army and the accusation of Assata Shakur's relationship to it was widely circulated by government agents among police agencies and units. As a result of these activities by the government, Ms. Shakur became a hunted person; posters in police precincts and banks described her as being involved in serious criminal activities; she was highlighted on the FBI's most-wanted list; and to police at all levels, she became a 'shoot-to-kill' target.
I was falsely accused in six different "criminal" cases, and in all six of these cases, I was eventually acquitted, or the charges were dismissed. The fact of acquittal or dismissal of charges did not mean that I received justice in the courts: that was certainly not the case. It meant only that the "evidence" against me was so flimsy and false that my innocence became evident. This political persecution was part and parcel of the government's policy of eliminating political opponents by charging them with crimes and arresting them with no regard to the factual basis of such charges.
On May 2, 1973 I, along with Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata Acoli, was stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike, supposedly for a "faulty tail light." Acoli got out of the car to determine why we had been stopped; Zayd and I remained in the car. State trooper Harper then came to the car, opened the door and began to question us. Because we were black, and riding in a car with Vermont licence plates, he claimed he became "suspicious." He then drew his gun, pointed it at us and told us to put our hands up in the air, in front of us, where he could see them. I complied. In a split second, a sound came from outside the car, there was a sudden movement and I was shot once with my arms held up in the air, and then again from the back. Zayd Malik Shakur was later killed, trooper Werner Foerster was killed and even though Harper admitted that he shot and killed Zayd Malik Shakur, under the New Jersey felony murder law, I was charged with killing both Zayd Malik Shakur, who was my closest friend and comrade, and charged in the death of trooper Foerster. …