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Friday, May 3, 2013

Americans sleep while COINTELPRO inflames naming fellow American 2m-dollar “terrorist”

Government’s terrorizing tyranny to instill perpetual fear: its smear “Terrorist”
Excerpt, minor edit, ending comment by Carolyn Bennett

Attorney Lennox Hinds and professor and activist Angela Davis spoke today with Democracy Now! about 1970s political activist in exile Assata Shakur and the FBI’s announced $2 million call for assassins.

Why “terrorist,” why now?

Lennox Hinds comments

“…We have to look at it in the context of what has just happened in Boston.The FBI and the state police are attempting to inflame the public opinion to characterize political activist Assata Shakur as a terrorist though the acts she was convicted of had nothing to do with terrorism.
Assata Shakur

… If you look at the evidence, she was convicted of aiding and abetting, and therefore was present during the shootout. The FBI and the state police’s theory was that Sundiata Acoli shot Officer (New Jersey State Trooper Werner) Foerster. That was their theory during his trial.

Wikipedia note: Sundiata Acoli (b. 1939 Clark Edward Squire), a former member of the Black Liberation Army, was in 1974 sentenced to life in prison for killing a New Jersey state trooper. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundiata_Acoli

“If we look at the definition of terrorism,” Hinds continues, “what is it? It is the use or the threat of use of force against a civilian population to achieve political ends.

“What happened in the case of Assata Shakur? … She was targeted by … Director J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI in a program that was called COINTELPRO ─ a program unveiled in the 1970s by the Senate Intelligence Committee (chaired by Sen. Frank Church), which found that the FBI had been using legal but mostly illegal methods…, in the FBI’s own words, … ‘to discredit, to stop the rise of a black messiah’ so that there would be no ‘Mau Mau,’ in their words, ‘uprising in the United States.’ They were of course referring to the liberation movement that occurred in Kenya (Africa).

“… The FBI carried out a campaign targeting not only the Black Panther Party [but] the SCLC, Martin Luther King, Harry Belafonte and Eartha Kitt. They targeted anyone who supported the struggle for civil rights ─ that they considered dangerous.”

Evidence in conflict

“It is in this context,” Hinds says, “that we need to look at what happened on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973. …

“The allegation that Assata Shakur was a cold-blooded killer is not supported by any of the forensic evidence.

If we look at the trial, we’ll find that she was victimized, she was shot. She was shot in the back. The bullet exited and broke the clavicle in her shoulder. She could not raise a gun. She could not raise her hand to shoot. And she was shot while her hands were in the air…That is the forensic evidence.
There is not one scintilla of evidence placing a gun in her hand. No arsenic residue was found on her clothing or on her hands. So, the allegation by the state police that she took an officer’s gun and shot him, executed him in cold blood, is not only false; it is designed to inflame.

Davis also commented on the issue of evidence. “There’s no way that she could have possibly been the person who killed Foerster,” she said, “because she had her hands up and (she) was shot in the back with her hands in the air and could not have used a gun at that time.”

Angela Davis comments on context as pattern

“… I find it really interesting that the FBI decided to focus quite specifically on black women, because somehow they feared, it seems to me, that the movement would continue to grow and develop, particularly with the leadership and the involvement of black women.

“I was rendered a target, an ideological target, in the same way that Assata Shakur was called the ‘mother hen’ of the Black Liberation Army. The way in which she was represented became an invitation for racists and everyone who assented to the repressive behavior of the U.S. government to focus very specifically on her, to focus their hate, to focus vendettas on her.

“… I really find it surprising that when the grandchildren of those who were active in the late 60s and early 70s are becoming involved in similar movements today, there is this effort to again terrorize young people by representing such an important figure as Assata Shakur as a terrorist.

“I was quite surprised that in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, where, before the Tsarnaev brothers were discovered to be the alleged perpetrators, there was an attempt to represent the person who planted the bombs as either a black man or a dark-skin man with a hoodie.

I believe—this racialization of what is represented as terrorism is an attempt to bring the old-style racism into conversation with modes of repression in the 21st century.

“… There’s one other point that I would like to make, which is that at the same time Assata Shakur is being designated the first woman ever [to be placed] on the [FBI’s] 10 Most Wanted Terrorists list, the Cuban Five, Cuban citizens who attempted to prevent terrorist attacks on Cuba, continue to be held in prison in the United States.”

Democracy Now’s Juan González wonders at the government’s Osama bin Laden-ladened language: “The government statement that she [Assata Shakur] remains a threat to the United States, the implication being that she’s somehow trying to organize attacks on the country, is mind-boggling.  It’s one thing to say, ‘We have a case here of someone who’s still wanted.’

It’s another thing to say that [the person is ] still a threat to the United States, when there’s been no indication over the last 30, 40 years that Assata Shakur has been involved in any type of movements or organizations directed against the United States government.

LOGIC OF TERRORISM: Terrorizing tyranny instilling perpetual fear

Angela Davis continues

“…There’s always this slippage between what should be protected free speech—that is to say, the advocacy of revolution, the advocacy of radical change—and what the FBI represents as ‘terrorism.’
Certainly, Assata continues to advocate radical transformation of this country, as many of us do. … I continue to say that we need revolutionary change. This is why it seems to me that the attack on her reflects the logic of terrorism, because it is designed precisely to frighten young people, especially today, who would be involved in the kind of radical activism that might lead to change.

“…Many of us have looked at the evidence and she is innocent. If anything, this (FBI $2 million terrorist call) is a vendetta. Assata is not a threat.

“…To represent her as a person who continues to be a threat to the U.S. government in the way that is described is, it seems to me ─

an effort to strike fear in the hearts of young people who would be active in the struggles that are represented historically by Assata and struggles that continue today.

Struggles against police violence, for example, continue.

… Consider the fact that so many people have been killed by the police in recent years. … Kimani Gray in New York, … Alan Blueford in Oakland, … Oscar Grant in Oakland, … there are some 63 people who were killed last year in Chicago by the Chicago police.

n my view, and I think of this often, is that the state of affairs in the United States rises from, is the result of a deliberate and

blissful ignorance embedded in the character of Americans
and, with it, their poor (and poorly-funded) formal schooling, education at all levels. 

Americans would rather stand in a big box store line to buy the latest gadget than to endure or fund the discipline of quality education for all. This fundamentally warped and chronic condition means 
(a) the American masses eagerly absorb, without questioning, any propaganda, any manipulation, any nonsense, any dogma, any oratory against their/our better interests and the interests of the society as a whole; and  
(b) in embracing the status quo, the current character and ethos, we will forever fail to constructively progress and will therefore always trend backwards.
I am constantly amazed, even alarmed by those who, while appearing to be intelligent people, talk constantly about “taking back America”  and “the good old days.” These nostalgists, in my mind, are terrifyingly dangerous.

I love the wisdom of Madison

Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

Today’s ‘other,’ or ‘terrorist’ or al Qaeda ─ If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

Sources and notes

“Angela Davis and Assata Shakur’s Lawyer Denounce FBI’s Adding of Exiled Activist to Terrorists List,” Friday, May 3, 2013, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/5/3/angela_davis_and_assata_shakurs_lawyer

“Assata Shakur in Her Own Words: Rare Recording of Activist Named to FBI Most Wanted Terrorists List”

AMY GOODMAN: … Assata Shakur in her own words: In 1998, Democracy Now! aired her reading an open letter to Pope John Paul II during his trip to Cuba. She wrote the message after New Jersey state troopers sent the pope a letter asking him to call for her extradition.… [This] is an excerpt of a letter Assata Shakur read, an open letter to Pope John Paul II, during his trip to Cuba in 1998.

ASSATA SHAKUR: My name is Assata Shakur, and I was born and raised in the United States. I am a descendant of Africans who were kidnapped and brought to the Americas as slaves. I spent my early childhood in the racist segregated South. I later moved to the northern part of the country, where I realized that Black people were equally victimized by racism and oppression.

I grew up and became a political activist, participating in student struggles, the anti-war movement, and, most of all, in the movement for the liberation of African Americans in the United States. I later joined the Black Panther Party, an organization that was targeted by the COINTELPRO program, a program that was set up by the Federal Bureau of Investigation to eliminate all political opposition to the U.S. government’s policies, to destroy the Black Liberation Movement in the United States, to discredit activists and to eliminate potential leaders.

Under the COINTELPRO program, many political activists were harassed, imprisoned, murdered or otherwise neutralized. As a result of being targeted by COINTELPRO, I, like many other young people, was faced with the threat of prison, underground, exile or death. The FBI, with the help of local police agencies, systematically fed false accusations and fake news articles to the press accusing me and other activists of crimes we did not commit. Although in my case the charges were eventually dropped or I was eventually acquitted, the national and local police agencies created a situation where, based on their false accusations against me, any police officer could shoot me on sight. It was not until the Freedom of Information Act was passed in the mid-'70s that we began to see the scope of the United States government's persecution of political activists.

At this point, I think that it is important to make one thing very clear. I have advocated and I still advocate revolutionary changes in the structure and in the principles that govern the United States. I advocate self-determination for my people and for all oppressed inside the United States. I advocate an end to capitalist exploitation, the abolition of racist policies, the eradication of sexism, and the elimination of political repression. If that is a crime, then I am totally guilty.

To make a long story short, I was captured in New Jersey in 1973, after being shot with both arms held in the air, and then shot again from the back. I was left on the ground to die, and when I did not, I was taken to a local hospital where I was threatened, beaten and tortured. In 1977 I was convicted in a trial that can only be described as a legal lynching.

In 1979 I was able to escape with the aid of some of my fellow comrades. I saw this as a necessary step, not only because I was innocent of the charges against me, but because I knew that in the racist legal system in the United States I would receive no justice. I was also afraid that I would be murdered in prison. I later arrived in Cuba where I am currently living in exile as a political refugee.

The New Jersey State Police and other law enforcement officials say they want to see me brought to "justice." But I would like to know what they mean by "justice." Is torture justice? I was kept in solitary confinement for more than two years, mostly in men’s prisons. Is that justice? My lawyers were threatened with imprisonment and imprisoned. Is that justice? I was tried by an all-white jury, without even the pretext of impartiality, and then sentenced to life in prison plus 33 years. Is that justice?

Let me emphasize that justice for me is not the issue I am addressing here; it is justice for my people that is at stake. When my people receive justice, I am sure that I will receive it, too.

Democracy Now! Friday, May 3, 2013, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/5/3/assata_shakur_in_her_own_words

Excerpted Wikipedia note

Assata Shakur or JoAnne Deborah Byron, an American woman born 1947, activist in the 1970s, in exile since the 1980s, U.S. government calls “terrorist” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assata_Shakur

Assata Olugbala Shakur (b. July 16, 1947, JoAnne Deborah Byron, married name Chesimard) “is a convicted murderer, an African-American activist and escaped convict who was a member of the Black Panther Party (BPP) and Black Liberation Army (BLA). Between 1971 and 1973, Shakur was accused of several crimes and made the subject of a multi-state manhunt.

“In May 1973 Shakur was involved in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike, during which New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster and BLA member Zayd Malik Shakur were killed and Shakur and Trooper James Harper were wounded.

“Between 1973 and 1977, Shakur was indicted in relation to six other alleged criminal incidents—charged with murder, attempted murder, armed robbery, bank robbery, and kidnapping—resulting in three acquittals and three dismissals.

“In 1977, she was convicted of the first-degree murder of Foerster and of seven other felonies related to the shootout.

“Shakur was then incarcerated in several prisons. She escaped from prison in 1979 and has been living in Cuba in political asylum since 1984.

“Since May 2, 2005, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has classified her as a domestic terrorist and offered a $1 million reward for assistance in her capture.

“On May 2, 2013, the FBI added her to the ‘Most Wanted Terrorist list’ and increased the reward for her capture to $2 million.

“Attempts to extradite her have resulted in letters to the Pope and a Congressional resolution. Shakur is the step-aunt of the deceased hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur, the stepson of her brother Mutulu Shakur. Her life has been portrayed in literature, film and song.”

Lennox Hinds
Attorney, university professor, civil rights activist

Lennox Hinds is a partner in the Harlem-based law firm Stevens, Hinds and White (trying cases in the United States and Africa); a professor at Rutgers University; former counsel for the ANC and the South African Government, a founding member of the National Conference of Black Lawyers [NCBL], a former President and permanent representative of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) at the United Nations, vice president of the IADL, which has jurist members throughout the world; and lead defense counsel before the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

He reportedly has defined “U.S. and NATO war crimes and crimes against humanity against Libya as laid out in key sections of the United Nations Charter.”

Harvard Crimson, http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1980/9/20/rutgers-professor-fights-disbarment-pnew-brunswick/

Angela Davis
Political activist, university professor, writer

Angela Davis has been an activist and writer promoting women’s rights and racial justice while pursuing her career as a philosopher and teacher at the University of Santa Cruz and San Francisco University.

Angela Yvonne Davis (b. January 26, 1944) is an American political activist, scholar, and author. In the 1960s, she became a nationally prominent activist and radical, a leader of the Communist Party USA, and had close relations with but was never an official member of the Black Panther Party through her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. She was tried and acquitted of suspected involvement in the Soledad brothers’ August 1970 abduction and murder of Judge Harold Haley in Marin County, California. During the 1980s, she was twice a U.S. vice presidential candidate on the Communist Party USA ticket.

Davis’s continuing interests include prisoner rights. She is the founder of Critical Resistance, an organization working to abolish the prison-industrial complex. She is national speaker and professor (ret.) with the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is the former director of the university’s Feminist Studies department. Her research interests are in feminism, African American studies, critical theory, Marxism, popular music, social consciousness, and the philosophy and history of punishment and prisons.


Brainy quotes

James Madison Quotes, Fourth President of the United States. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/j/james_madison.html


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