U.S. Government Declares $1 Million Bounty For Assata Shakur, Tupac's Godmother

The federal government

has announced a $1 million bounty for the capture of fugitive JoAnne Chesimard,

who is widely known as Assata Shakur. Assata, who is also Tupac’s godmother,

has lived in Cuba nearly 30 years after escaping a maximum security jail.

Today [May 2] represents the 32nd anniversary of a notorious clash between members

of the Black Liberation Army and the New Jersey state troopers. At the end of

the conflict, two were dead and two were incarcerated, including Assata.

Rappers like Paris and Common have written sympathetic, reflective songs about

Assata [“Assata’s Song” and “A Song For Assata”

respectively]. Common explained his support of Shakur.

“The reason I was even connected to this woman is because of her humanity

and her passion for people,” the Chicago native told AllHipHop.com. “And

when I met her on a Black August trip four years ago and I learned she was innocent

and that all the pain and hate that had been placed upon her, she'd overcome.

There's no way than anyone in this world should want to harm her. She’s

such a beautiful human being.”

Accounts of that fateful day vary. On May 2 1973, New Jersey State Trooper James

Harper pulled over Assata, Zayd Shakur and Sundiata Acoli for an apparent broken

taillight on their vehicle.

The incident rapidly

escalated into a gunfight and resulted in the deaths of Zayd Shakur and Trooper

Werner Foerster. Harper and Assata were also injured in the melee.

The authorities

maintain that Assata murdered Foerster executioner style after he was injured,

but her lawyers charge that she herself was too severely wounded to do such

and act. She was hit twice and her gunshot wounds were inflicted as she surrendered.

Nevertheless, Assata was convicted and served six and a half years in prison

at the maximum security wing of the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women

in New Jersey.

In 1979, with the

help of others, she escaped and found asylum in Cuba. She asserts that she was

living in deplorable conditions and was brutalized by correctional officers.

Tupac’s godfather Mutulu Shakur, a political prisoner, was also sent to

prison and accused of helping Assata escape Clinton.

Despite her legal status, he still has staunch supporters stateside.

“Assata is innocent. She is a legitimate political refugee in Cuba. Castro

recognizes her as such because the case against her in New Jersey nearly 30

years ago was an attempt to frame a Black revolutionary who was herself shot

and tortured by police,” writer/author Dream Hampton told AllHipHop.com.

Hampton, author

of Jay-Z’s upcoming autobiography “The Black Book,” is also

a member of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, helps organize Black August and

helped launch the “Hands off Assata” campaign.

“But we should never lose sight of the fact that she's innocent. And now

more than ever she needs our support,” Hampton said. Hampton said that

three experts testified in the case and there was no gun power residue present

to support the theory that she murdered officer Foerster.

In her own words, Assata, now 57, has proclaimed her innocence in writings now

widely posted online. “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 US government's policy towards

people of color,” Shakur has written in the past. “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 U.S. government has done

everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal, nor have I ever

been one.”

On the classic song “Rebel Without A Pause,” Chuck D of Public Enemy

declared himself to be a “supporter of Chesimard” and Hampton concurred

that the fugitive continues to inspire the generations after her escape to Cuba

– as she is vilified in the mainstream press and domestic government.

“Black August, our annual Hip-Hop benefit concert, is inspired in part

by Assata. The artist[S] we've taken to Cuba---Mos, dead prez, Common and [Talib]

Kweli have all been moved to action by Assata. She's our soldier and hero.”

Regardless of her grassroots backing, the federal authorities haven’t

eased their pursuit of Assata Shakur and plan to use international influence

to squeeze her out of her Cuban sanctuary.

"She is now 120 pounds of money," State Police Superintendent Rick

Fuentes said to the NJ Star-Ledger. "[This new initiative] is going to

exert pressures that weren't in place nationally and internationally before.

And we're going to follow up to make sure everybody is aware of this both inside

and outside of Cuba."

The bounty on Assata Shakur is the largest reward ever placed on an individual

in the state of New Jersey.


Yohance Kyles (@HUEYmixwitRILEY)
EditorYohance Kyles (@HUEYmixwitRILE…