FROM: HYPE Information Service
Oct. 5 rally to protest U.S. House vote on former Panther
From HYPE Information Service, 2 October 1998
(Washington, D.C.) -- Supporters of exiled former Black Panther Assata Shakur will hold a rally here Monday to protest a congressional resolution that calls on the government of Cuba to extradite her to the United States.
The Ad Hoc Coalition to Keep Assata Shakur Free will hold a press conference at noon on Capitol Hill on Independence Avenue, between 1st Street Southwest and 1st Street Southeast. The rally will follow the press conference.
House Concurrent Resolution 254, passed on Sept. 14, is a non-binding measure. Nevertheless, "it gives tacit approval for U.S. law enforcement agencies to kidnap Assata Shakur and other revolutionaries living in exile and illegally extradite them to America," according to coalition spokesman Damon McGhee.
Shakur, 51, was a key target of the FBI Counterintelligence Program launched in 1967 against numerous Black organizations and activists. A 1976 U.S. Senate investigation found that a primary objective of COINTELPRO was to destroy black political dissent in America. The Black Panther Party was singled out for persecution by the FBI.
Prior to her arrest in May, 1973, for the murder of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster, Shakur was "wanted" on several federal and state charges. All of these charges were subsequently dismissed or juries found her not guilty.
In March, 1977, Shakur was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Foerster, a crime she says she did not commit. She escaped from New Jersey's Clinton Correctional Institute in November, 1979, and subsequently was granted political asylum by the government of Cuba. Earlier this year, New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman offered a $50,000 bounty for Shakur's capture and return to New Jersey. An "open letter" protesting Whitman's offer was signed by hundreds of organizations and individuals in and outside of the United States.
The demands of the ad hoc coalition include: the repeal of House Concurrent Resolution 254; congressional hearings on COINTELPRO; a pardon and/or grant of executive clemency to Shakur; general and unconditional amnesty to all political prisoners, prisoners of war and exiles. "Assata Shakur lives today in forced exile in Cuba because of her commitment to equality of life for black people in America," McGhee said. Many other black activists, he added, have been in prison for over 20 years on COINTELPRO-fabricated charges, such as those against Shakur.
"The situation of these prisoners raises issues of fairness regarding the racist treatment of people of African descent in the U.S. criminal justice system," McGhee said.
Twenty-three of the 36 members of the Congressional Black Caucus voted for the resolution. Thirteen did not vote.
Contact: Cynthia Gaston, (202) 581-7364, (202) 581-2274 (fax).