I have been a political activist most of my life, and although the U.S. 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 Black Panther Party had become the number one organization targeted by the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. Because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it “greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and vowed to destroy it and its leaders and activists."
These are the words of Assata Shakur, formerly known as JoAnne Chesimard. Wrongfully convicted in 1977, for a murder that she would have been physically unable to commit. It's pretty hard to shoot someone with an arm that you had been shot in, and which Forensics experts testified that her hands were in the "Surrender Position." Nevertheless, she was sentenced to Life in Prison for the 1973 murder of a New Jersey State Trooper. Her conviction was at the hands of an All White Jury. If you've ever read her biography "Assata," you would have no choice but to agonize at the treatment she received between the time of her arrest & eventual escape from Clinton correctional in 1979 (being left in the morgue-next to her fallen comrad Zayd Shakur, being abused in the hospital & then placed in a Men's Prison, etc.).
Though held in a maximum Security Prison, the visiting area at The Clinton Correctional Facility was said to be more Medium Security. Exposing other shockingly loose security measures, Assata Shakur was liberated by a team of three took three Prison Guards hostage to secure her safe exit from the prison. Each of the three guards were released unharmed & Assata Shakur moved from Safe House to Safe House until eventually being granted Political asylum to Cuba five years later. Today she sits with a $2 Million Dollar Bounty on her Head, and listed on The FBI's Most wanted Terrorist List. But to me, she is a HERO! She personifies every bit of the definition of Freedom, Self-Determination, Justice & Power. May she continue to be safe in these changing times. P.E.A.C.E.