What will happen with Assata Shakur now?
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Now that U.S.- Cuba diplomatic relations have thawed, law enforcement officials in New Jersey are hoping that cop-killer Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, will be extradited to the United States.
Chesimard, a former member of the Black Panthers and Black Liberation Army, was convicted of killing a state trooper. She was sent to prison, escaped and fled to Cuba.
That was 40-years ago. At the time, the State Department offered to lift the embargo against Cuba in exchange for Chesimard, and other exiles.
Fidel Castro, said no.
During the 1970’s, the Black Power Movement galvanized, and the FBI sought to infiltrate and destroy social justice movements that were seen as a national security threat including the Black Liberation Army.
Joann Chesimard was targeted, and in May of 1973, she was involved in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that killed Trooper Werner Forester.
Chesimard was wounded, and one of her accomplices killed. She was charged with murder.
“Long story short, I was captured in New Jersey in 1973. After holding up both arms in the air, and then shot again from the back. I was left on the ground to die,” she said in an interview.
It took three years to get to trial.
“In 1977 I was convicted in a trial that can only be described as a legal lynching,” she added.
The trial was plagued with constitutional issues. An all white jury, five of whom had personal connections to state troopers.
An assemblyman spoke to the jurors while they were sequestered.
There was no gunpowder residue on her fingers, and none of her fingerprints on any weapon at the crime scene.
Chesimard was hit in the back.
“The bullet exited and broke the clavicle in her shoulder. She could not raise a gun, she could not raise her hand to shoot,” said Attorney Lennox Hinds.
She became a symbol of the Black Power Movement. The rapper “Common” rejoiced her in a song.
The Black Liberation Army took two prison guards hostage and freed Chesimard from prison.
She disappeared and changed her name to Assata Shakur.
The FBI and New Jersey State Police wanted her so badly, the reward reached $2 million. She became the first woman on the FBI’s top ten wanted list.
The FBI called her a domestic terrorist. New Jersey officials say as long as there is an active warrant for Chesimard the FBI will continue pursue justice regardless of how long it takes.