Two public universities in California have hosted talks by Sekou Odinga, a black radical and cop killer described as an American “political prisoner.”
The University of California, Irvine hosted a lecture by Odinga Wednesday afternoon. The description used by the university’s School of Humanities to describe the event characterizes Odinga (who is also identified by his birth name, Nathaniel Burns) in quite positive terms, claiming he is a recently released “prisoner of war:”
Sekou Abdullah Odinga grew up in Jamaica, Queens-New York in a family of nine. He is a husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was inspired by the revolutionary principles of Malcolm X when he joined the Organization of Afro-American Unity, followed later by the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army. He is a Muslim, a citizen of the Republic of New Afrika and for thirty-three years was a U.S. held political prisoner of war. In 2009, Sekou reached his mandatory release date for his federal conviction in connection to the Liberation of Assata Shakur – living in exile in Cuba – and was “paroled” to the New York State prison system. After five years, he won a parole hearing and was released on parole on November 25th, 2014 from the New York State sentence.
Well, that is one way to describe Odinga. Another is to point out that he wasn’t put behind bars for “political” crimes, but instead for attempted murder and other serious felonies. In 1984, Odinga was convicted for his role in breaking Assata Shakur out of prison and helping her escape to Cuba (where she remains today), as well as engaging in a shootout with six police officers investigating the 1981 Brink’s armored car robbery.
During the trial of other participants in the Brink’s robbery, Odinga testified that bank robbery was just a form of “expropriation” to fund revolutionary activities. Odinga also justified the murder of police officers, which he characterized as “retaliation for ongoing atrocities.”
Odinga doesn’t seem to have moderated his attitudes since then.
“I am a Political Prisoner of War!” he says on the website SekouOdinga.com. “What war? The war of national liberation that has been going since Afrikans were first kidnapped and brought to the Americas and enslaved. Some of us have never agreed to be American and have struggled to free and build the Republic of New Afrika. Under international law, oppressed people have that right, the right to be free of their oppression and to build a nation that will protect their right to be free and independent. That’s what we were doing … That’s why I’m now a Political Prisoner of War.”
The “Republic of New Afrika,” which Odinga is described to be citizen of, does not exist. Its proponents seek to carve out a black-majority country in the deep South, using lands taken from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana.
Despite being convicted of numerous crimes, Odinga has been a cause célèbre for some activists. Websites created prior to his 2014 release tout him as a victim of an unjust system convicted of crimes he didn’t commit. The language used on these websites is very close to that used by UC-Irvine to tout the event.
UC-Irvine doesn’t appear unique in its effusive praise for Odinga. On Tuesday, Odinga appeared at an event sponsored by California State University, Los Angeles, which was sponsored by its department of pan-African studies. Like at UC-Irvine, advertisements described Odinga has a “political prisoner.”
UC-Irvine’s peculiar description of Odinga’s appearance was first noticed by blogger Gary Fouse. The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to UC-Irvine regarding the event’s description but hasn’t yet received a reply.
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