Friday, May 03, 2013

Hands (and Drones) Off Assata Shakur!

Crossposted from Kasama. Since I wrote this last night, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement has already reported that a giant "wanted" billboard has gone up in Newark, New Jersey. What an obscenity! Assata has been living peacefully in Cuba for THIRTY YEARS. What does it mean that she has now been labeled a "terrorist"?

Today the Obama administration's FBI added black liberation fighter Assata Shakur to its list of "Most Wanted Terrorists." They doubled the million-dollar price on her head; and she becomes the first woman on the list. Fortunately Assata Shakur is living free in Cuba after being liberated from a federal penitentiary in 1979, but it's clear her life is in mortal danger. Labeling Shakur a "terrorist" is a declaration of war against all dissenters and revolutionaries, and sets her up for murder at the hands of the state with complete impunity. It's also evidence of the continued bullying relationship between the United States and its anti-imperialist Caribbean neighbor, Cuba.

If Assata Shakur can be labelled a terrorist, so can anyone who has raised their fist against the empire.

Assata Shakur is a survivor of the vicious COINTELPRO campaign that attempted to smash the Black Panther Party and its offshoots in the 1960s and 1970s. Dozens of heroic black liberation fighters were murdered outright or sent away to prison for long sentences: the U.S. government was determined at any cost to smash a movement that refused to play by liberal rules. She was repeatedly framed with apolitical crimes she had nothing to do with; she went underground but was arrested in 1973 when the car she was a passenger in was attacked by New Jersey State police; and was very seriously wounded while trying to surrender.Democracy Now quotes a letter Shakur wrote to the Pope on the occasion of his visit to Cuba in 1998:

"At this point, I think that it is important to make one thing very clear. I have advocated and still advocate revolutionary changes in the structure and in the principles that govern the U.S. I advocate an end to capitalist exploitation, the abolition of racist policies, the eradication of sexism, and the elimination of political repression. If that is a crime, then I am totally guilty."

But what Shakur is not guilty of is terrorism. Indicted ten times by the government for supposed crimes ranging from bank robbery to murder and kidnapping, Shakur's only conviction was her final one, by an all-white jury, stacked with family members of cops, who ignored the copious medical evidence that showed she was shot while she had her hands held up high. This accusation of "terrorism" reflects the new reality of U.S. imperialism under Bush and Obama: with drone technology it's a license to kill.
In Occupy/Ocupemos Sunset Park, we closed each of our General Assemblies by linking hands and reciting Assata's words from her 1973 statement, "To My People":
"It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains."
Assata is our hero. We must be vigilant, and protect her and the freedom-fighter legacy she represents.
Check out Common's "Song for Assata" on youtube:


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