By Scotty Reid
Since President Obama’s announcement that his administration will take executive action to “normalize” relations between the Cuban government and the United States, a number of politicians and police union’s have been screaming for the transfer of human rights activist Assata Shakur to the state of New Jersey.
Assata Shakur was convicted by a racist kangaroo court for the killing of a New Jersey State trooper who was likely shot by another trooper as the two carried out an ambush on three members of the Black Liberation Army, which was an organization that confronted police terrorism against the Black community from 1970 to 1981.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been calling on President Obama to facilitate Assata Shakur’s return before restoring full relations with Cuba. In a letter to the White House made, Governor Christie called the political asylum given to Assata Shakur by Cuba “an affront to every resident of our state, our country, and in particular, the men and women of the New Jersey State Police, who have tirelessly tried to bring this killer back to justice.”
However, it does not appear that the Cuban government is willing to turn its back on those it has given political asylum fleeing racist oppression and U.S. government repression. In an interview with the Associated Press, Cuban Foreign Ministry head of North American affairs Josefina Vidal said “Every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted, We’ve explained to the U.S. government in the past that there are some people living in Cuba to whom Cuba has legitimately granted political asylum,”.
In response to the statement, Governor Chris Christie said, “So Joanne Chesimard, a cold-blooded cop-killer, convicted by a jury of her peers, in what is without question the fairest and most just criminal justice system in the world — certainly much more just than anything that’s happened in Cuba under the Castro brothers. She is now, according to an official of the Cuban government, persecuted, these thugs in Cuba have given her political asylum for 30 years. It’s unacceptable.”
What is unacceptable is that Christie who has been accused of being a political bully, who barely escaped charges that he knew his political underlings shut down an entire bridge in New Jersey to tie up traffic as a political attack on a New Jersey mayor, thinks he has room to call anyone a thug. It is almost laughable that Christie would claim that the United States has the “the fairest and most just criminal justice system in the world” or that Assata Shakur was “convicted” by a “jury of her peers”. Christie knows that the criminal justice system in America has been called one of the most racist in the world and has led to the world’s largest prison population dwarfing that of Cuba. To call an all-white jury which included at least two people with ties to members of law enforcement, a jury of Assata Shakur’s peers, is to deny important and relevant facts in the case and is absurd.
The fact that the United States placed Assata Shakur on the most wanted terrorist list after 40 years is just further evidence of the charade America is playing when it comes to political dissidents living abroad and the hundreds of political prisoner it has been torturing for over 40 years. The Cuban government is right to continue to grant Assata Shakur and anyone else who dare stands up against domestic police terrorism. The mass protests and demonstrations against a system that fails to hold killer cops accountable for the thousands of citizens they have killed should send a message to Cuba that not much has changed in America since it decided that Assata Shakur would be granted political asylum.
40 years after a police terrorist was killed by another police terrorist who then blamed Assata, police are still allowed to terrorize the Black community with impunity and Assata Shakur stands as a symbol to all who are currently organizing to resist terrorism and 13th Amendment style slavery in the 21st Century. Those they cannot enslave, they will kill which is exactly what they want to do to Assata Shakur. They want to snuff out any aspirations towards resistance by a new generation of freedom fighters and going after Assata Shakur is just another intimidation tactic used by the guardians of white supremacy in the United States.