For Immediate release
May 10, 2013
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA-USA, email@example.com
WE STAND WITH ASSATA
GABRIELA-USA Stands in Solidarity with Assata Shakur
(image by Dignidad Rebelde www.dignidadrebelde.com)
Assata Shakur, who was born Joanne Chesimard and was a former member of the Black Panther Party, was recently placed on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list as the first woman and second domestic “terrorist” on the list. Shakur currently lives in exile as a political asylum in Cuba since 1979 after she escaped (or liberated) from jail. Shakur was convicted of killing a New Jersey police officer in 1973 at the height of her participation in revolutionary, socialist organizing in and through the US Black Power movement. Shakur’s wrongful arrest and conviction was clearly motivated by the government’s will to destroy the Black revolutionary movement as the case developed without clear evidence of her guilt. In the throes of US-backed, anti-people and anti-democractic programs like COINTELPRO, Assata Shakur was one of many victims of US imperialist aggression in its home turf.
The FBI’s recent move to make Assata Shakur visible again works to delegitimize her and the activism she has contributed to. It seeks to rewrite the history of Black revolutionary activism in the US as domestic “terrorism.” Where evidence fails to prove Shakur’s culpability in the alleged crime of killing a New Jersey police officer, the rebranding of her act as terrorism sends a clear message that police departments in the US are immune from punishment even if they themselves are sources of hate, racism and oppression. As the FBI codifies Black revolutionary activism as domestic “terrorism” by targeting Shakur, the agency is making a point that Black revolutionary movement building in the US in the present can also be treated as “terrorism.” This abhorrent move seeks to equate Black revolutionary spirit with the war on terrorism.
GABRIELA-USA condemns Shakur’s placement on this list of “terrorists” because we challenge the US imperial power that arbitrarily defines who is labeled a “terrorist.” This mislabeling seeks to undermine and delegitimize the claims Shakur makes about the racist violence the US government perpetrates upon the people of color in the US. And in those terms, will anyone who then challenges and critiques US government policy be labeled a “terrorist?” Will every person that stands up against institutionalized inequality be labeled a “terrorist?”
The normalization of the logics of “terrorism” is becoming a US imperialist witch-hunt with Assata Shakur at the top of the list. GABRIELA-USA stands with Assata Shakur in this time of criminalization. We, alongside many organizations and groups, maintain her innocence in this politically motivated woman-hunt. GABRIELA-USA applauds Assata Shakur’s legacy of internationalism and we will remain vigilant about the developments in this case.
Assata Shakur was and continues to be a revolutionary that identifies the destructive nature of political repression, racism, and violence embedded in US politics. She is a symbol of revolutionary activism in which young people from marginalized communities can draw inspiration and strength from; her resilience and revolutionary aptitude against the superpower of the world, US imperialism, must give us all hope to bring imperialism to its knees. She has continually criticized the US government for their failings and violence towards people of color in the US. And more importantly, Shakur reminds all of us that the only thing we have to lose is our chains. We must continue building across class, racial and ethnic, sexuality and gender lines in the US and globally as we continue to feel the brunt of imperialist violence and aggression from our urban neighborhoods, our schools to our homelands.
Hands Off Assata!
Free All Political Prisoners!