Assata: Terrorist, or Survivor of Terrorism?
Rough Transcript of Audio Recording
Submitted by Noelle Hanhrahan
With the news of the posting of an additional eight hundred and fifty thousand dollars for the return of former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army member Assata Shakur from Cuba, the U.S. government has taken another step in its ridiculous so-called War on Terrorism. They did this by New Jersey officials branding Assata with the latest libelous label â€œterroristâ€ in an attempt to justify this modern day slave bounty. If anybody knows about terrorism itâ€™s Americans, for this nation was founded in terrorism. So deep is this truth that it lies in the subconscious of almost every American and can be unleashed with unnerving ease. Come on. Complete this phrase â€œThe only good Indian is a ________.” Whether weâ€™re Black, white, rich, or poor that phrase echoes in American consciousness, an inheritance from a time when those dark thoughts were dark realities of, yes, genocide against the native peoples that fed and healed the starving settlers from Europe who survived the Atlantic crossings. Terrorism, white terrible violence against red life and black life and brown life and yellow life. That is Americaâ€™s truest hidden history, hidden beneath lies about â€œall men are created equalâ€.
In 1973, when Assata Shakur and Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata Acoli were stopped on the New Jersey turnpike, they werenâ€™t stopped because the cops wanted to â€œrender assistanceâ€. This was a car stop for the unwritten crime of Driving While Black, before we developed the term. And the cops tried to kill every Black Panther in that car, for this unwritten crime. Zayd was shot to death and Assata was shot twice. And in an act of arrogance that only American judicial terrorists can devise, she was charged with murdering both Zayd and the cop that tried to kill her.
Assata went through a devil’s brew of show trials in several states, best summed up in a book by her lawyer/aunt Evelyn Williams titled “Inadmissible Evidence.” These were trials that seemed more fitting for Mississippi than Middlesex County, New Jersey, or Manhattan borough, New York. But no matter where that happened, they featured all white juries, and ambitious judges who didn’t even pretend to be fair and unbiased arbiters. Even despite these obvious obstructions, she was occasionally acquitted, and when she was convicted in Middlesex, it was clear this was a verdict not of her guilt, but of her political ideas. To label this woman a terrorist, is to bleed all meaning from the word. For, during her life as an activist, during her wounding and her arrest, and during her travails as an accused in courtrooms that were more lynching posts than halls of justice, she was terrorized by a system that wanted to punish her for daring to rebel.
It is fitting that these words are written on May 13, 2005, twenty years to the day from the police mass murder and bombing of the MOVE home in Philadelphia. Today, twenty years later, only one person, Ramona Africa, ever spent a day in jail. What of those cops who shot and bombed unarmed children? What of the politicians who unleashed these dogs of urban war? Like Ramona, Assata was jailed for daring to survive.
Cuba’s valiant Fidel Castro responded almost immediately to announce his refusal to recognize this modern day slave bounty. He pronounced her a political prisoner during her time in American Gulags, perhaps remembering that she was held in an all-male jail during her incarceration.
For centuries, nothing has so stirred up American fury like the escape of a slave. That ainâ€™t just distant history. For daring to slip her bonds and escape from brutal and unjust bondage, the Empire now labels her a terrorist. Thatâ€™s because to them, nothing is more terrifying than resistance to their imperial will.
As for terrorists, if they really wanna find some, it should’nt be too hard to find them. Just check the White House.
From death row, this is Mumia Abu Jamal.