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Will Assata Shakur be extradited from Cuba?

Will Assata Shakur be extradited from Cuba?

She’s a convicted domestic terrorist who executed a state trooper
according to the FBI. Joanne Chesimard has lived in Cuba for nearly 30
years. Hiding in plain sight — even lecturing at a local
all under the direct protection of the government – a blessing from
. She’s known there as Assata Shakur. But back in the United
States — law enforcement refers to her as Joanne Chesimard. Her
original name, a woman convicted in the death of a New Jersey State Trooper.
POSTED:MAY 02 2015 06:32PM EDT
UPDATED:AUG 05 2015 12:51PM EDT

She’s a convicted domestic terrorist who executed a state trooper,
according to the FBI.

Joanne Chesimard has lived in Cuba for nearly 30 years. She’s known
there as Assata Shakur. But, back in the United States, law enforcement
refers to her as Joanne Chesimard. That is the original name of the
woman convicted in the death of a New Jersey state trooper.

Now that the two nations, the US and Cuba, are repairing old political
wounds, her case, and her fate, is back front and center.

Havana is a city where history hides out in the open. It is easy to see
as you walk the old cobblestone roads, from the classic cars, Chevys and
Fords, to constant reminders of the revolution etched across the heart
of the island nation.

And on those same streets, where the communist movement took hold in
1959, American fugitives were once welcomed.

Among the most notable was Joanne Chesimard. In an audio recording
explaining her case to the Vatican before the pope’s visit in 1998,
Joanna says she saw her crimes as a ‘necessary step.’

“Not only because I was innocent of the charges against me, but because
I knew with the racist legal system, I would receive no justice” she said.

But justice in this case, the concept of fairness, is as elusive as the
fragile truce finally emerging between Cuba and United States.

It was May 2nd, 1973 just after midnight. Chesimard and two other
members of the Black Liberation also known as the BLA, were stopped
by New Jersey State Troopers in East Brunswick.

Authorities say during that time, there was a discussion with a trooper
and the group. The trooper had asked for identification. The troopers
discover an ammunition clip which triggered a confrontation followed by
a bloody shootout

One of the BLA members was killed and 34-year-old trooper Werner
Foerster is shot with his own service weapon.

Chesimard and the other surviving BLA member, Sundiata Acoli were
charged with murder.

Investigators believe she fired the first shot, wounding the other
trooper then took Foerster’s gun and shot him twice in the head as he
lay on the ground.

Her defenders maintain she couldn’t have fired because she too was shot.

She spoke about it.. In a documentary.

“My arms were in the air. And a split second later. They shot me. With
my arms in the air. And then again in the back,” she said in a clip.

In 1977, after a set of lengthy trials, Chesimard — by then calling
herself “Assata Shakur”…was convicted and sent to the Clinton
Correctional Facility for women..

She wouldn’t be there long.

The escape happened on Nov 2nd 1979, 2 years after the conviction. 3
members of the BLA posed as visitors at the . But once inside they
pulled pistols and took 2 guards hostage. Eventually escaping with
Chesimard in a prison van. She lived underground for several years and
by the mid 80s Fidel Castro granted her asylum.

In the eyes of the FBI, the eyes of the New Jersey State , New
Jersey State Troopers this case have never been closed.

In 2013, 40 years after that night on the NJ turnpike, Joanne Chesimard
was the first female added to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.

Richard Frankel is the Special Agent in charge of the FBI’s Newark office.

“She was a domestic terrorist,” he said. “She was part of a terrorist
organization and she committed a terrorist act killing the state
trooper. So, she’s always been in the opinion of the FBI a domestic

The agency, along with the state of New Jersey, is offering a $2 million
dollar reward for the now 67 year old fugitive.

Dr. Peniel Joseph a professor of African-American History at Tufts
University says to truly understand the gravity of the Shakur case, you
have to take into consideration the charged racial climate in the US
during the 60s and 70s.

“I think in the 1960’s and 70’s political radicals who were African
American, certainly ran into the duality of law enforcement in terms of,
what law enforcement might say occurred vs. what actually happened,” he

The BLA, known for its militancy and toward law enforcement,
considered themselves revolutionaries fighting for independence,
modeling themselves in part on the Cuban revolution just a few years

A godmother to late rapper Tupac Shakur, she remains a relevant figure
in the Black Power movement. Powerful and controversial as well…

Just recently, Kean University in Union New Jersey cancelled a
commencement speech from musician Common over a song he wrote about her.

Now, on the Havana streets, where the woman convicted for the crime has
written her own history. the next chapter, remains uncertain.

Here are some links related to the story:

Source: Will Assata Shakur be extradited from Cuba? | WNYW –

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