The black woman the Women’s March decided to celebrate earlier this week is a known cop-killer with ties to extremist black organizations.
The Women’s March honored Assata Shakur on her birthday Monday, holding her up as a “sign of resistance” and a “feminist figure” who fought sexism within the movements she worked.
The glaring problem is that Shakur has a long history of violent crimes against law enforcement officers and partnered with groups like the Black Panther Party and the militant Black Liberation Army.
Shakur, born in 1947 as Joanne Deborah Bryon, became heavily involved in activist groups during her college years, protesting racism and participating in rent strikes and anti-war protests.
After she graduated from college, she joined with the Black Panther Party (BPP), a Marxist group that advocated armed resistance against police brutality, the immediate freedom of all black people from jail and reparations for the community.
The type of activism Shakur participated in naturally delved into discussions on the possibility of a race war in America, Professor Peniel E. Joseph, a history professor at Tufts University, noted. Shakur was part of the “self-styled revolutionaries who committed acts of violence that they defined as revolutionary, inspired by guerrilla revolts in places like Cuba,” he said.
Huey P. Newton, the leader of the BPP, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter for the murder of an Oakland, Cali., police officer in 1968. Eldridge Cleaver, another BPP member, admitted later in life that he used to rape white women to “defy and trample on the white man’s law.”
Shakur eventually left the group and joined the Black Liberation Army (BLA), a group of mostly former BPP members who felt that the party wasn’t radical enough. The BLA advocated for an armed struggle to gain the “liberation and self-determination of black people in the United States.”
During her time with the BLA, Shakur was charged for the attempted murder of a police officer in 1973, three bank robberies, kidnappings and the murders of two drug dealers. In most of these cases, Shakur was either acquitted or the charges were dismissed.
Shakur later faced murder charges for the fatal shooting of a New Jersey state trooper. According to police accounts, Shakur and two members from the BLA were pulled over by two New Jersey state troopers May 2, 1973. An altercation ensued, with one state trooper dead from gunshot wounds, the other state trooper injured, Shakur wounded, and one BLA member dead.
A jury found Shakur guilty of first degree murder, assault and battery of a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to kill, illegal possession of a weapon, and armed robbery.
She was handed a life sentence in a New Jersey state prison but managed to escape with the help of “the Collective,” an umbrella group of radical organizations. She lived underground for years before fleeing to Cuba, where she resides to this day.
She is now hailed as a hero to many black organizations, especially the Black Lives Matter movement.
“When I use Assata’s powerful demand in my organizing work, I always begin by sharing where it comes from, sharing about Assata’s significance to the Black Liberation Movement, what it’s political purpose and message is, and why it’s important in our context,”Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza wrote on the website explaining the group’s background.
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