Oct. 5 rally to protest
U.S. House vote on former Panther
From Afrikan.net/HYPE Information Service>
2 October 1998
(Washington, D.C.) -- Supporters of exiled former
Black Panther Assata Shakur will hold a rally here Monday to protest
a congressional resolution that calls on the government of Cuba
to extradite her to the United States.
The Ad Hoc Coalition to Keep Assata Shakur Free
will hold a press conference at noon on Capitol Hill on Independence
Avenue, between 1st Street Southwest and 1st Street Southeast. The
rally will follow the press conference.
House Concurrent Resolution 254, passed on Sept.
14, is a non-binding measure. Nevertheless, "it gives tacit
approval for U.S. law enforcement agencies to kidnap Assata Shakur
and other revolutionaries living in exile and illegally extradite
them to America," according to coalition spokesman Damon McGhee.
Shakur, 51, was a key target of the FBI Counterintelligence
Program launched in 1967 against numerous Black organizations and
activists. A 1976 U.S. Senate investigation found that a primary
objective of COINTELPRO was to destroy black political dissent in
America. The Black Panther Party was singled out for persecution
by the FBI.
Prior to her arrest in May, 1973, for the murder
of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster, Shakur was "wanted"
on several federal and state charges. All of these charges were
subsequently dismissed or juries found her not guilty.
In March, 1977, Shakur was sentenced to life in
prison for the murder of Foerster, a crime she says she did not
commit. She escaped from New Jersey's Clinton Correctional Institute
in November, 1979, and subsequently was granted political asylum
by the government of Cuba. Earlier this year, New Jersey Gov. Christine
Todd Whitman offered a $50,000 bounty for Shakur's capture and return
to New Jersey. An "open letter" protesting Whitman's offer
was signed by hundreds of organizations and individuals in and outside
of the United States.
The demands of the ad hoc coalition include: the
repeal of House Concurrent Resolution 254; congressional hearings
on COINTELPRO; a pardon and/or grant of executive clemency to Shakur;
general and unconditional amnesty to all political prisoners, prisoners
of war and exiles. "Assata Shakur lives today in forced exile
in Cuba because of her commitment to equality of life for black
people in America," McGhee said. Many other black activists,
he added, have been in prison for over 20 years on COINTELPRO-fabricated
charges, such as those against Shakur.
"The situation of these prisoners raises issues
of fairness regarding the racist treatment of people of African
descent in the U.S. criminal justice system," McGhee said.
Twenty-three of the 36 members of the Congressional
Black Caucus voted for the resolution. Thirteen did not vote.