On May 2, 1973, Blank Panther Party member Assata Shakur was convicted of killing a New Jersey police officer during a shoot-out that left one of her fellow activists dead. In 1979 Shakur escaped from jail with the help of supporters from the Black Liberation Army movement and relocated to Cuba, where she has reportedly lived since 1984. Even though the crime Shakur allegedly committed is decades old, the state of New Jersey announced that it was adding $1 million to the FBI’s $1 million reward for her capture, bringing the total reward to $2 million dollars.
Shakur, now 66, was wounded during the shootout on the Jersey Turnpike. Many observers feel that the pressure to capture Shakur after all these years is a testament to the double standard by which black liberation activists are held. There is also a good deal of skepticism regarding Shakur’s guilty verdict given disparities in the American criminal justice system, then and now.
Another question is why Shakur’s name has been added to a list of terrorists given that Shakur is 66 and has not been implicated in any crimes other the one she was allegedly involved with in decades earlier? Is a 66 year old woman a danger to the public? Doesn’t New Jersey have better uses for the $1 million dollars they added to Shakur’s bounty?
Shakur once wrote of her experience, “I am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution, I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political repression, racism and violence that dominate the U.S. government’s policy towards people of color.”
In some ways Shakur is an escaped slave, but the dogs haven’t given up the hunt. If only those hounds were on the scent of ex KKK members who terrorized blacks in this country for decades. That would be justice.