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Twitter search #HandsOffAssata

What Is The Hands Off Assata Campaign? 7/05 includes a what you can do section

Assata Shakur: Woman, Exile, Artist, Mother, 7/05

Congress attempts to further Assata Kidnapping
, 6/15/05

Assata Shakur, 2005: The million dollar bounty
: news clips outline the story

HOA to show film on Assata in Chicago, 7/19/05

Official Response to Announcement of $1 million Bounty and the Listing of ASSATA SHAKUR on Domestic Terrorist Watch List, 5/13/05

The Hands off Assata Campaign and the Office of Councilman Charles Barron call for support, 
Wednesday, May 25 at 1:30pm
City Hall, New York City

Common Gets Props From HOA, 4/18/00

Assata Shakur pages on AfroCubaWeb

Luis Posada Carriles: a US terrorist

HOA Endorsers 
(in formation)

Black Radical Congress

Global Exchange

Malcolm X Grassroots

National Conference of Black Lawyers

IFCO/Pastors for Peace

Venceremos Brigade

Women's International
League for Peace and 



New Afrikan Peoples

National Alliance Against
Racist and Political

California Coalition for Women Prisoners


HOA - Hands Off Assata!

Happy Birthday Assata! 10/06

HOA has a web site at [No longer functional]

HOA has an impressive list of sponsors, including Angela Y. Davis, Susan Taylor, Khephra Burns, Charles Mingus, III, Asha Bandele, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Hands Off Assata Campaign, National Center For Human Rights Education, Affinity, National Conference Of Black Lawyers, and the Black Radical Congress.

HOA petition to Chicago City Council, 9/05

The HOA/Chicago Coalition is mounting a city-wide petition campaign to encourage its city council to pass a resolution against the $1million bounty and the putting of Assata on the terrorist Watch List. If you are from Chicago, please sign the petition below, if you are not, please form a coaltion and develop your own demands based on your own city's needs. We in Chicago are sure that $1millions could be better spent on schools, healthcare, and affordable housing, and that our representatives "would not" support prosecutorial misconduct.  Please join the Petition Campaign! Once done send to this HOA website.

What Is The Hands Off Assata Campaign? 7/05

The Hands Off Assata Campaign is a coming together of organizations and individuals who are outraged by the heightened attempts by Department of Justice and the State of New Jersey to illegally force a return of Assata Shakur from Cuba to the United States. 

We believe that Assata Shakur is a bona fide political exile living in the island nation of Cuba. She was persecuted for her political beliefs and tortured while in prison. We support the international human rights and Geneva conventions, which enabled her to seek and secure political asylum in Cuba, and we support the right of the Cuban people to grant it to her. We are shocked by the issuing on May 2nd, 2005 of a $1million bounty/reward on head of Assata Shakur and the adding of her name to the “terrorist” watch list. Doing such a thing is tantamount to a call to "soldiers of fortune" to kidnap and kill Ms. Shakur and for them to engage in international espionage against the sovereign nation of Cuba. Given that there is no binding extradition treaty between Cuba and the United States, such a request is outside the context of international law. In addition, it is outside the parameters of common sense to label Ms. Shakur a terrorist. To do so is against all internationally held definitions of terrorism; and is an affront to those who have experienced it and/or studied it. Moreover, to say that bounty hunters should view her as “120 pounds of money” smacks of the tracking down of runaway slaves and vigilante violence, which is clearly immoral, unethical and anti-human. Thus, we call on the State of New Jersey & the US Government to rescind the bounty, to remove Ms. Shakur from the terrorist watch list, to respect international law, and to end the hostility towards the tiny nation of Cuba by normalizing relations with the Island and ending the US economic blockade. 

What can you do?

1) Contact us so that we can add your organization's name to our list of endorsers.

2) Contact your Congressperson. Demand that he/she work to overturn this diabolical bounty and listing of Ms. Shakur on the terrorist Watch list.

3) Call or write to New Jersey State Police Superintendent, Rick Fuentes New Jersey State Police, P.O. Box 7068, West Trenton, NJ 08628. 609-882-2000 and the State Attorney General Peter Harvey 609-984-6500;, and demand that that they rescind the bounty and remove Ms. Skakur from the terrorist watch list. 

4) Plan a showing of the Film Eyes on the Rainbow (1996). This film portrays the life and current struggles of Assata Shakur.

5) Join the Petition Campaign


Assata Shakur: Woman, Exile, Artist, Mother, 7/05top

ASSATA SHAKUR is an African-American woman. She is a social justice activist, a poet, an artist, a mother and a grandmother. She has lived in Cuba since the early 1980s. During the heady days of the 1960s and 1970s, she found herself a victim of both racial profiling and political targeting. After being spotted on the New Jersey turnpike on May 2, 1973, because she is black, it was discovered that she and her two companions were known members of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army. Like Martin Luther King, Jr. Malcolm X, Leonard Peltier and many members of the Civil Rights and American Indian Movements, Assata and her companions had been watched, their phones tapped, their families monitored, their organizations infiltrated, and widespread disinformation campaigns waged against them. They were like many activists of the day --targets of the FBI's Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO). In fact, Assata was wanted, not for anything she had actually done, but for a variety of crimes that government and state officials were trying to pin on her. This was common in the 1970s: discredit the voice of activists by painting them as criminals, trumping up indictments, tying them up in courts and if possible jailing them. In the mid 1970s, The Church Committee of the Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations and the Domestic Intelligence Subcommittee, headed by Senator Walter Mondale, provided incontrovertible documentation of a government sponsored conspiracy against the civil and human rights of all sorts of political activists.

THUS ON THAT DAY IN MAY, Assata was a marked woman. And after police stopped them, a shoot out occurred. When the smoke cleared one police officer, and one of Assata's companions, Zayd Shakur lay dead. Assata, shot and dragged from the car, lay wounded. Only belatedly taken to the hospital, Assata was then chained to her bed, tortured and questioned while injured. In fact, she never received adequate medical attention even though she had a broken clavicle and a paralyzed arm. Nonetheless, she was quickly jailed, prosecuted and incarcerated over the next few years for the series of trumped up cases. Interestingly, in five separate trials, and with largely white juries, charges were dismissed because of lack of evidence or she was acquitted of all charges ranging from bank robbery to murder. As the manager of one bank said at trial - she is just not the one who robbed my bank. Only in the final trial in 1977, where she was charged with the Turnpike killings, was she found guilty. This even though forensic evidence taken that day showed that she had not fired a weapon. She was sentenced to life + 33 years in prison. In 1979, and after nearly six years behind bars, she escaped from Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey and some time later emerged in Cuba where she applied for and received political asylum. Since being in Cuba, she has continued her college education, published an autobiography, and writes on global issues facing women, youth, and people of color. 

Since 1990, rightist politicians and police bodies have reinvigorated their attempts to pursue Assata Shakur. They do this even though Assata has not tried to re-enter the United States and is, according to international law, a political exile that should be left alone. First linking "fear of crime" rhetoric with anti-Cuban sentiment, New Jersey governor Christine Todd-Whitman issued a $50,000, then $100,000 bounty on the head of Assata Shakur. Then in 1998, New Jersey and Florida legislators introduced and got passed - House Resolution 254 - which calls for the Cuban government to extradite Assata Shakur as a condition to normalizing US-Cuba relations. 

And on May 2nd, 2005, the Department of Justice in connection with the State Police of New Jersey issued a bounty of $1 million bounty on Assata and is openly encouraging police bodies and bounty hunters to kidnap her. Interestingly, while Assata and Cuba are portrayed as "criminal", terrorist bombings, a political smear campaign, and ugly hostile economic acts have been stepped up against Cuba. Cuban citizens and foreign tourists have been killed and injured, and the US blockade against Cuba is making it almost impossible for Cubans and US-Americans to build any kind of meaningful relationship, dialogue or peace. 

Congress attempts to further Assata Kidnapping, 6/15/05top

6/15/05 -  for Immediate Release, HOA

There is an attempt to further the kidnapping of Assata Shakur. We received the following from a member of the Congressional Black Caucus today.

There will be an amendment offered tonight or tomorrow on the Science, State, Justice and Commerce (SSJC) Appropriations Bill HR 2862 by Representative Fossella (R-NY) or King (R-NY) regarding U.S. fugitives in Cuba. 

"Reps. Vito J. Fossella, R-N.Y., and Peter T. King, R-N.Y. will offer an amendment providing that, of the funds made available for diplomatic and consular affairs for the U.S. Interests Section in Havana, an appropriate amount of such funds would be used to disseminate the names of fugitives, such as Joanne Chesimard (Assata Shakur) and William Morales, who are residing in Cuba, as well as provide any rewards for their capture."

What this means is that more money will be funnelled to the US offices in Cuba to further instigate the capture of Assata. Please call your Congressional representative today. Ask for their legislative aid on Cuba and tell them to vote NO on this Bill.

topOfficial Response to Announcement of $1 million Bounty and the Listing of ASSATA SHAKUR on Domestic Terrorist Watch List, 5/13/05

May 13, 2005
For Immediate Release 


On May 2nd the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New Jersey Troopers publicly announced a $1 million bounty for the capture of Assata Shakur.  May 2nd also marked the 32nd anniversary of the fatal shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that resulted in the deaths Trooper Werner Foerster and Zayd Shakur, and left Assata Shakur and Sundiata Acoli wounded.  Assata and Sundiata were both tried and convicted in separate trials for the deaths of Werner Foerster and Zayd Shakur. 

For more than three decades the FBI has attempted to demonize Assata Shakur. She is a mother and grandmother, author and artist. She is politically astute and intellectually sharp. She is warm, humble and spiritual. Years ago, the FBI labeled Assata “the heart and soul of the Black Liberation Army”. They issued all sorts of defamatory statements about her. As a result she was hunted like an animal by law enforcement agencies all over the country, as were many other Black Panther Party and BLA members. She has been used by the FBI as a symbol in various ways to further their political objectives. 

Convicted of murder for the death of a New Jersey State Trooper in 1977, Assata has been living in exile in Cuba. She is not convicted for any other incident or crime.  In 1998 the New Jersey Troopers petitioned Pope John Paul II as he prepared for his historic visit to Cuba and meeting with President Fidel Castro. They wanted him to pressure President Castro to return Assata to the United States. The Pope flatly turned down their request but did advise then President Clinton that the United States needed to end the senseless and inhumane blockade against Cuba. 

For years the New Jersey Troopers have held an annual commemoration ceremony for Trooper Werner Foerster in early May. Each year the local New Jersey papers print several stories about the events of May 2, 1973 that took place on the New Jersey Turnpike. Periodically various New Jersey officials have issued different statements sometimes accusing Assata and at other times accusing her co-defendant, Sundiata Acoli, of killing Foerster.  

Former New Jersey Governor, Christie Todd Whitman, curried political favor with the state’s police when she announced a bounty of $25,000 for Assata and later doubled it to $50,000. She was duly rewarded by President Bush who appointed her in 2001 to be the head of the Environmental Protection Agency.  The bounty was quietly increased by the FBI to a million dollars as it crept around the country looking for relatives, friends and associates to enlist in its scheme to kidnap Assata and return her to the United States. Time and time again, the FBI offered them a million dollars for their services. To some, they stated that there was no limit to how much they would pay for Assata’s return. 

The obsession shared by the New Jersey State Troopers and the FBI for Assata is highly unusual unless you examine the larger political picture and international affairs.  Since the victorious Cuban Revolution in 1959, the United States has engaged in an ongoing campaign to assassinate President Castro and overthrow the Cuban government. No fewer than 23 assassination attempts have been documented. Then in 1961 the failed Bay of Pigs attempt by President John F. Kennedy to invade and overthrow President Castro brought international embarrassment to the United States.  The Bay of Pigs debacle was one of many government attempts to use and bow to the wishes of the powerful Miami based Cuban exile community.  This is the same power base that Florida Governor Jeb Bush answers to and his brother, George W., is beholden to for the 2000 and 2004 “election” results. 

Since the rise to power of Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez in 1998, the United States has greedily watched as political links developed between Cuba and Venezuela. What does Venezuela have that the United States wants? Oil!  What does Cuba have that the United States wants? It occupies a strategic geographic location that would enable the United States to militarily control the Caribbean. Of course Cuba also has the tenacity to show the people of the world that there is another way to exist. It is possible for education and health care to be guaranteed to every citizen. It is possible for every citizen to have a home and most importantly, hope for the future.  It is a sovereign nation with the right to grant asylum whenever it sees fit.  Equally important is that the majority of the Cuban population is of African descent.  The significance of this fact is not lost on the other Third World nations around the globe. 

The United States’ CIA has boldly intervened in Venezuelan affairs and aided in the failed coup there in 2002.  Bitter to admit defeat, the United States continued to look for ways to provoke a confrontation with President Chavez.  They found it in Luis Posada Carriles. In fact, Posada provides Bush with a two for one shot at Chavez and Castro. For many years Posada has been a CIA operative. He is wanted in Venezuela for his role in the 1976 shoot down of a Cuban airliner that killed 73 civilians including the national fencing team. He escaped from prison there. In 1998 he claimed responsibility for planning attacks on various Cuban establishments including the 1997 bombing of a tourist hotel that resulted in the death of an Italian tourist and the wounding of 11 others. In 2000 Posada was arrested in Panama for plotting to murder President Castro during the Ibero-American summit being held in that country.  He was convicted and sentenced to eight years. In November 2004, the outgoing Panamanian President, Mireya Moscoso, pardoned Posada allegedly in exchange for $4 million paid by a Cuban American. Money talked and Posada walked, disappearing from public view for several months.  top

In March 2005, he surfaced in Miami. His lawyer, Eduardo Soto, admitted a few weeks later that Posada was in Miami as he filed his petition for political asylum.  House of Representative William Delahunt (D-Mass) stated recently, “I can’t imagine how one could defend a terrorist where there exists overwhelming evidence that he was responsible or a co-conspirator in blowing up a civilian airliner.”  To many the revelation that Posada is in the country is shocking. But they were apparently unaware that his co-conspirator, Orlando Bosch, has been living comfortably in Miami for at least the past two years. The revelation of Posada’s presence in the United States set off a tidal wave of international and domestic criticism including accusations of political hypocrisy. President Castro called on President Bush to return Posada to Venezuela.  Many demanded that the United States not allow Posada to remain in the country.   

But the role of Bosch and Posada as terrorists is indisputable. They plotted, murdered, bombed innocents and bragged about it. So what could Bush do? He tried denying that Posada was in the country but Posada’s lawyer had already said that he was.  Roger Noriega, top State Department official for Western Hemisphere affairs, claimed he had no knowledge of Posada’s whereabouts; again, hard to believe. Things, as one can see, went from the sublime to the ridiculous. 

Meanwhile President Castro issued a series of statements about Posada’s presence in the United States and accused Bush of harboring of a terrorist.  His comments grabbed the attention of the local media and hit a sympathetic nerve. It was impossible to explain Posada’s presence in the United States after the numerous public statements Bush had made about terrorists. Perhaps the most memorable of these is “If you harbor a terrorist, you are a terrorist.” Things were getting very ugly very fast for Bush. 

However, the timing couldn’t have been better (for the Bush administration) since the anniversary of the New Jersey Turnpike incident was fast approaching.  Here was an opportunity to “save face” and take another stab at Castro.  A miserably transparent attempt to deflect attention from the political embarrassment of Posada’s presence developed overnight. 

In the blink of an eye, Assata was suddenly placed on the domestic terrorist list. How very convenient. Now Bush could aim a similar accusation at Castro, harboring a terrorist. 

Turning back to Assata and her 1973 chance encounter with Trooper Foerster on the New Jersey Turnpike, it can hardly be labeled a terrorist act or plot no matter how you characterize the facts. No doubt she and her companions did not plan on the events of May 2, 1973. They didn’t plan or provoke any encounter with the police nor did they brag about Trooper Foerster’s death. 

Who defines a terrorist? What actions define a terrorist?  Is it a politically manipulated designation used to further the agendas of the present administration? While there is certainly no agreed upon definition of 'terrorism'  even the U.S. State Department's self-serving definition that it involves "premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets" rules out the incident on the NJ Turnpike which was - by all accounts - initiated by the troopers in a state notoriously known for racial profiling on the Turnpike. 

Assata stands convicted (the result of a highly politicized trial) of one criminal act, the murder of Trooper Foerster.  The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs reports that the FBI identified 785 assailants convicted in the killing of law enforcement officers between 1993 and 2002.  Should we expect that the next political announcement to be that those 785 individuals have also been placed on the domestic terrorism list?  Is a murder conviction of a police officer the criteria? If so, then should we expect the list to increase by at least 785? 

Perhaps, the commission of any heinous act makes one a terrorist. If so, what of the joint team of FBI agents and Chicago police that murdered Black Panther leaders, Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, in their sleep during in a pre-dawn raid at their apartment?  Should they not be named as terrorists? When now, Reverend, then Mayor, Wilson Goode ordered the bombing of the MOVE headquarters located at 6221 Osage Avenue in Philadelphia in 1985 that killed 11 people including 5 children, and resulted in the destruction of the entire neighborhood, including 62 homes, was that an act of terrorism? Should we expect to see his name added to the list? Were the New York City Police Officers who shot and killed the unarmed grandmother, Eleanor Bumpers, during an apartment eviction, terrorists? They murdered her. Maybe the members of New York’s finest that fired 41 bullets at unarmed immigrant Amadou Diallo will have their names added to the list of domestic terrorists.  If this be the case, should not the names of the convicted abortion clinic bombers be added to the list? Are the officers who beat, assaulted and sodomized young Abner Louima terrorists? What about the soldiers who shot unarmed detainees in Guantanamo? top

In this current climate we find the terrorism label abused and manipulated. Political motivations, not international law, or ethical sensibilities, are increasingly being used to determine who is and who is not defined as a terrorist. It is an outrage that this government would offend the sensitivities of the American public by labeling Assata Shakur a terrorist.

In 1976 the Senate Select Subcommittee headed by Senator Frank Church of Utah issued its report on the activities of the FBI’s Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO).  That Program was aimed at destroying any political dissent in the country. Among its targets were Rev. Martin Luther King, Kwame Ture’ (f.k.a. Stokely Carmichael) Malcolm X, the Black Panther Party, the Black Liberation Army, the New Left, the Weather Underground, the American Indian Movement, the Puerto Rican independence movement and the Communist Party.  Led by J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI left no stone unturned and no dirty trick untried. Part of this campaign was to criminalize legitimate political movements and individuals. The FBI maimed, murdered and imprisoned hundreds of political activists. The Report concluded that “Many of the techniques used would be intolerable in a democratic society even if all the targets had been involved in violent activity, but COINTELPRO went far beyond that.”  The condemnation of the FBI practices temporarily limited its activities.

However, in 2001 the FBI was able to publicly reinstitute all the previously condemned COINTELPRO practices under the guise of the Patriot Act. Increased surveillance of political organizations and individuals began. Harassment, arrest, incarceration and intimidation of political activists have once again been restored as “acceptable” police practices.

This recent labeling of Assata as a terrorist is done as part of the broader campaign to demonize and criminalize political dissent and resistance.  This agenda was begun by the previous United States Attorney General, John Ashcroft. All over the country FBI agents started questioning and harassing past and present political activists.  In courtrooms and filed documents, the FBI and U.S. Attorneys began referring to domestic political activists as terrorists. The label has far reaching implications.  The First Amendment is in serious danger and so is anyone who dares to exercise their rights under its protections.

The convergence of Posada’s entry into the United States, the hardening of relations with Cuba under Bush mandated Executive orders, and the otherwise inexplicable labeling of Assata as a terrorist fit well into a much broader politically motivated scheme.  Her name must immediately be removed from the list and the bounty offer rescinded.

For more information, contact [_AT_ = @]


Assata and Posada: Two different colors, two different stories  5/18/2005 SF Bay View: "The generally unacknowledged factor of Posada and Bosch’s blowing up of the Cubana airliner, however, is this. If tourists to Cuba take the time to visit Havana’s Sport’s Palace, guides will inevitably take them to the memorial wall. From there, visitors will be greeted by row after row of young, mostly Black faces staring back at them – photographs of Cuba’s Olympic athletes who were returning from the Pan American Games in Venezuela and were on board the airliner Posada and Bosch likely bombed. Therefore, by putting a $1 million bounty on Sister Shakur, who, they say, is linked to the killing of one white person, while allowing Posada and Bosch remain free in the U.S. after killing at least 73 mostly Black people, the U.S. has once again exposed itself as a government that continues to capitulate to and accommodate itself to racism."

Common Gets Props From HOA ( Hands Off Assata), 4/00top


Everybody got a rap
Everybody got a beat
Everybody got a rhyme
But no one but Common
In the mix
Common at Black August, Havana

Common at Black August, Havana, 1999

SO WHAT you say

Common, in his newest and hottest CD, Like Water for Chocolate, knows you not only got to keep it real, but you got to speak to the reality that got us locked up, profiled, lined up and sidelined. He has been to school and knows that the best way to get props is to give them. And so in Common’s new CD he has sampled and given props to Assata Shakur, a legendary sista who stood up against the system in the 60s and 70s-- someone who refused to bow down to the idea that Black and poor people had to accept the beat down. Then, like Malcolm, because she said NO, she became an enemy of the state. Like other members of the Black Panther Party, she came into the sights of Big Brother—the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program-- and was tapped, watched, harassed and finally framed. Assata was no criminal but they wanted to make her one so that no one today would know or care who she is or what she fought for. This is the 411: It did not work. You cannot stop the spirit. And this is the spirit that Common has called on in his rhyme—a rhyme that is in with the circle of time. Today Assata is alive and well and living in Cuba, where she fled in fear of her life after escaping from prison more than 20 years ago. She received political asylum because another country accepted her claim that she could not be treated fairly here in the US. Since then she has gone to college, published an autobiography, written poetry and essays, and had a movie made about her. She has kept contact with her daughter and grandchild when they have been able to come and see her. She has not tried to come into the United States. SO WHAT’s WRONG ? Because Assata did not die or sell out, because she is a symbol that you cannot kill the spirit -- still today there are illegal efforts to try to force her return, including putting a bounty on her head—like was done with runaway slaves.

We at the HANDS OFF ASSATA campaign want to give all due to Common for making the music the message. This is our song, our rhyme, our beat: We are not going to let not one other of our sistas or brothers who fought so hard for us to be harassed, persecuted and kidnapped. The law says Assata is a political exile entitled to remain where she is. So we say to Governor Christine Whitman of New Jersey call off your $100,000 bounty. Maybe you should use that money to see what the troopers are doing to brothers and sistas on the turnpike today. We say to those members of Congress that supported a call to Cuba to expel Assata , don’t be no fool--take it back. We say if you really want to know the truth about what happened with Assata, and many of the too strong crew, call for public hearings on the FBI’s Counter intelligence program. Ask why she was targeted, why her phone was tapped. Ask why in five cases brought against Assata after she was arrested in 1973 , the charges were dismissed for lack of evidence or she was acquitted in trials before largely white juries. Ask about the facts behind her arrest in 1973 when she and her companions were stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike. Ask why there was a shootout in which one policeman and one of her companions were killed and she was shot twice in the back. Ask why she was chained to her bed, and not given adequate medical attention. Ask why even though the evidence showed she had not fired any weapon she was convicted and given a life sentence plus 33 years. Ask why this case was put on her. We all want to know. We know that what the FBI did has not seen the light of day because if it did there are a lot of cases besides Assata’s that would show up shaky.

We at HANDS OFF ASSATA want to raise our hands in the air and wave them like we DO care. We care about what Common cares about which is what Assata cares about – we care about what happens to our youth, our fathers, our mothers, our sistas, our brothers. We believe that by struggling for ASSATA we struggle for the best in ourselves.

Come check us out at or send requests for info to HOA/Global Exchange, P/O/ Box 438731, Chicago, Ill 60643.

Contacting HOAtop [replace _A_ with @]

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