May 2 1973, Black Panther activist Assata Shakur (fsn) JoAnne
Chesimard, was pulled over by the New Jersey State Police, shot
twice and then charged with murder of a police officer. Assata spent
six and a half years in prison under brutal circumstances before
escaping out of the maximum security wing of the Clinton Correctional
Facility for Women in New Jersey in 1979 and moving to Cuba.
name is Assata ("she who struggles")
Shakur ("the thankful one"), and I
am a 20th century escaped slave. Because of government persecution,
I was left with no other choice than to flee from the political
repression, racism and violence that dominate the US government's
policy towards people of color. I am an ex political prisoner, and
I have been living in exile in Cuba since 1984. I have been a political
activist most of my life, and although the U.S. government has done
everything in its power to criminalize me, I am not a criminal,
nor have I ever been one. In the 1960s, I participated in various
struggles: the black liberation movement, the student rights movement,
and the movement to end the war in Vietnam. I joined the Black
Panther Party. By 1969 the Black Panther Party had become the number
one organization targeted by the FBI's COINTELPRO
program. because the Black Panther Party demanded the total liberation
of black people, J. Edgar Hoover called it "greatest threat
to the internal security of the country" and vowed to destroy
it and its leaders and activists.
1978, my case was one of many cases bought before the United Nations
Organization in a petition filed by the National Conference of
Black Lawyers, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political
Repression, and the United Church of Christ Commission for Racial
Justice, exposing the existence of political prisoners in the
United States, their political persecution, and the cruel and
inhuman treatment they receive in US prisons. I was falsely accused
in six different "criminal cases" and in all six of these cases
I was eventually acquitted or the charges were dismissed. The
fact that I was acquitted or that the charges were dismissed,
did not mean that I received justice in the courts, that was certainly
not the case. It only meant that the "evidence" presented against
me was so flimsy and false that my innocence became evident. This
political persecution was part and parcel of the government's
policy of eliminating political opponents by charging them with
crimes and arresting them with no regard to the factual basis
of such charges.
May 2, 1973 I, along with Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata
Acoli were stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike, supposedly for
a "faulty tail light." Sundiata
Acoli got out of the car to determine why we were stopped. Zayd
and I remained in the car. State trooper Harper then came to the
car, opened the door and began to question us. Because we were black,
and riding in a car with Vermont license plates, he claimed he became
"suspicious." He then drew his gun, pointed it at us, and told us
to put our hands up in the air, in front of us, where he could see
them. I complied and in a split second, there was a sound that came
from outside the car, there was a sudden movement, and I was shot
once with my arms held up in the air, and then once again from the
back. Zayd Malik Shakur was later killed, trooper Werner Forester
was killed, and even though trooper Harper admitted that he shot
and killed Zayd Malik Shakur, under the New Jersey felony murder
law, I was charged with killing both Zayd Malik Shakur, who was
my closest friend and comrade, and charged in the death of trooper
Forester. Never in my life have I felt such grief. Zayd had vowed
to protect me, and to help me to get to a safe place, and it was
clear that he had lost his life, trying to protect both me and Sundiata.
Although he was also unarmed, and the gun that killed trooper Forester
was found under Zayd’s leg, Sundiata
Acoli, who was captured later, was also charged with both deaths.
Acoli nor I ever received a fair trial. We were both convicted
in the news media way before our trials. No news media was ever
permitted to interview us, although the New Jersey police and the
FBI fed stories to the press on a daily basis. In 1977, I was convicted
by an all- white jury and sentenced to life plus 33 years in prison.
In 1979, fearing that I would be murdered in prison, and knowing
that I would never receive any justice, I was liberated from prison,
aided by committed comrades who understood the depths of the injustices
in my case, and who were also extremely fearful for my life.
U.S. Senate's 1976 Church Commission report on intelligence operations
inside the USA, revealed that "The FBI has attempted covertly to
influence the publics perception of persons and organizations by
disseminating derogatory information to the press, either anonymously
or through "friendly" news contacts." This same policy is evidently
still very much in effect today. On December 24, 1997, The New Jersey
State called a press conference to announce that New Jersey State
Police had written a letter to Pope John Paul II asking him to intervene
on their behalf and to aid in having me extradited back to New Jersey
prisons. The New Jersey State Police refused to make their letter
public. Knowing that they had probably totally distort the facts,
and attempted to get the Pope to do the devils work in the name
of religion, I decided to write the Pope to inform him about the
reality of’ "justice" for black people in the State of New Jersey
and in the United States.
January of 1998, during the pope's visit to Cuba, I agreed to do
an interview with NBC journalist Ralph Penza around my letter to
the Pope, about my experiences in New Jersey court system, and about
the changes I saw in the United States and it's treatment of Black
people in the last 25 years. I agreed to do this interview because
I saw this secret letter to the Pope as a vicious, vulgar, publicity
maneuver on the part of the New Jersey State Police, and as a cynical
attempt to manipulate Pope John Paul II. I have lived in Cuba for
many years, and was completely out of touch with the sensationalist,
dishonest, nature of the establishment media today. It is worse
today than it was 30 years ago. After years of being victimized
by the "establishment" media it was naive of me to hope that I might
finally get the opportunity to tell "my side of the story." Instead
of an interview with me, what took place was a "staged media event"
in three parts, full of distortions, inaccuracies and outright lies.
NBC purposely misrepresented the facts. Not only did NBC spend thousands
of dollars promoting this "exclusive interview series" on NBC, they
also spent a great deal of money advertising this "exclusive interview"
on black radio stations and also placed notices in local newspapers.
AND LIES IN THE NBC SERIES
an NBC interview Gov. Whitman was quoted as saying that "this has
nothing to do with race, this had everything to do with crime."
Either Gov. Whitman is completely unfamiliar with the facts in my
case, or her sensitivity to racism and to the plight of black people
and other people of color in the United States is at a sub-zero
level. In 1973 the trial in Middlesex County had to be stopped because
of the overwhelming racism expressed in the jury room. The court
was finally forced to rule that the entire jury panel had been contaminated
by racist comments like "If she's black, she's guilty." In an obvious
effort to prevent us from being tried by "a jury of our peers the
New Jersey courts ordered that a jury be selected from Morris County,
New Jersey where only 2.2 percent of the population was black and
97.5 percent of potential jurors were white. In a study done in
Morris County, one of the wealthiest counties in the country, 92
percent of the registered voters said that they were familiar with
the case through the news media, and 72 percent believed we were
guilty based on pretrial publicity. During the jury selection process
in Morris County, white supremacists from the National Social[ist]
White People's Party, wearing Swastikas, demonstrated carrying signs
reading "SUPPORT WHITE POLICE." The trial was later moved back to
Middlesex County where 70 percent thought I was guilty based on
pretrial publicity I was tried by an all white jury, where the presumption
of innocence was not the criteria for jury selection. Potential
jurors were merely asked if they could "put their prejudices aside,
and "render a fair verdict." The basic reality in the United States
is that being black is a crime and black people are always "suspects"
and an accusation is usually a conviction. Most white people still
think that being a "black militant" or a "black revolutionary" is
tantamount to being guilty of some kind of crime. The current situation
in New Jersey's prisons, underlines the racism that dominates the
politics of the state of New Jersey, in particular and in the U.S.
as a whole. Although the population of New Jersey is approximately
78 percent white, more than 75 percent of New Jersey's prison population
is made up of blacks and Latinos. 80 percent of the women in Jersey
prisons are people of color. That may not seem like racism to Gov.
Whitman, but it reeks of racism to us.
NBC story implied that Governor Christie Whitman raised the reward
for my capture based on my interview with NBC. The fact of the matter
is that she has been campaigning since she was elected into office
to double the reward for my capture. In 1994, she appointed Col.
Carl Williams who immediately vowed to make my capture a priority.
In 1995, Gov. Whitman sought to "match a $25,000 departmental appropriation
sponsored by an "unidentified legislator." I watched a tape of Gov.
Whitman's "testimony" in her interview with NBC. She gave a very
dramatic, exaggerated version of what happened, but there is no
evidence whatsoever to support her claim that Trooper Forester had
"four bullets in him at least, and then they got up and with his
own gun, fired two bullets into his head." She claimed that she
was writing Janet Reno for federal assistance in my capture, based
on what she saw in the NBC interview. If this is the kind of "information"
that is being passed on to Janet Reno and the Pope, it is clear
that the facts have been totally distorted. Whitman also claimed
that my return to prison should be a condition for "normalizing
relations with Cuba". How did I get so important that my life can
determine the foreign relations between two governments? Anybody
who knows anything about New Jersey politics can be certain that
her motives are purely political. She, like Torrecelli and several
other opportunistic politicians in New Jersey came to power, as
part time lobbyists for the Batista faction - soliciting votes from
right wing Cubans. They want to use my case as a barrier for normalizing
relations with Cuba, and as a pretext for maintaining the immoral
blockade against the Cuban people.
what can only be called deliberate deception and slander NBC aired
a photograph of a woman with a gun in her hand implying that the
woman in the photograph was me. I was not, in fact, the woman in
the photograph. The photograph was taken from a highly publicized
case where I was accused of bank robbery. Not only did I voluntarily
insist on participating in a lineup, during which witnesses selected
another woman, but during the trial, several witnesses, including
the manager of the bank, testified that the woman in that photograph
was not me. I was acquitted of that bank robbery. NBC aired that
photograph on at least 5 different occasions, representing the woman
in the photograph as me. How is it possible, that the New Jersey
State Police, who claim to have a detective working full time on
my case, Governor of New Jersey Christine Whitman, who claimed she
reviewed all the "evidence," or NBC, which has an extensive research
department, did not know that the photograph was false? It was a
vile, fraudulent attempt to make me look guilty. NBC deliberately
misrepresented the truth. Even after many people had called in,
and there was massive fax, and e-mail campaign protesting NBC's
mutilation of the facts, Ralph Penza and NBC continued to broadcast
that photograph, representing it as me. Not once have the New Jersey
State Police, Governor Christine Whitman, or NBC come forth and
stated that I was not the woman in the photograph, or that I had
been acquitted of that charge.
major lie and distortion was that we had left trooper Werner Forester
on the roadside to die. The truth is that there was a major cover-up
as to what happened on May 2, 1973. Trooper Harper, the same man
who shot me with my arms raised in the air, testified that he returned
to the State Police Headquarters which was less than 200 yards away,
"To seek aid." However, tape recordings and police reports made
on May 2, 1973 prove that not only did Trooper Harper give several
conflicting statements about what happened on the turnpike, but
he never once mentioned the name of Werner Forester, or the fact
that the incident took place right in front of the Trooper Headquarters.
In an effort to hide his tracks and cover his guilt he said nothing
whatsoever about Forester to his superiors or to his fellow officers.
In a clear attempt to discredit me, Col. Carl Williams of the New
Jersey State Police was allowed to give blow by blow distortions
of my interview. In my interview I stated that on the night of May
2, 1973 I was shot with my arms in the air, then shot again in the
back. Williams stated "that is absolutely false. Our records show
that she reached in her pocketbook, pulled out a nine millimeter
weapon and started firing." However, the claim that I reached into
my pocketbook and pulled out a gun, while inside the car was even
contested by trooper Harper. Although on three official reports,
and when he testified before the grand jury he stated that he saw
me take a gun out of my pocketbook, he finally admitted under cross
examination that he never saw me with my hands in a pocketbook,
never saw me with a weapon inside the car, and that he did not see
me shoot him.
truth is that I was examined by 3 medical specialists: (1)
A Neurologist who testified that I was immediately paralyzed immediately
after the being shot. (2) A Surgeon
who testified that "It was absolutely anatomically necessary that
both arms be in the air for Mrs. Chesimard to receive the wounds."
The same surgeon also testified that the claim by Trooper Harper
that I had been crouching in a firing position when I was shot was
"totally anatomically impossible." (3)
A Pathologist who testified that "There is no conceivable way that
it [the bullet] could have traveled over to hit the clavicle if
her arm was down." he said "It was impossible to have that trajectory.
"The prosecutors presented no medical testimony whatsoever to refute
the above medical evidence. No evidence whatsoever was ever presented
that I had a 9 millimeter weapon, in fact New Jersey State Police
testified that the 9 millimeter weapon belonged to Zayd Malik Shakur
based on a holster fitting the weapon that they was recovered from
his body. There were no fingerprints, or any other evidence whatsoever
that linked me to any guns or ammunition. The results of the Neutron
Activation test to determine whether or not I had fired a weapon
were negative. Although Col. Williams refers to us as the "criminal
element" neither Zayd, or Sundiata
Acoli or I were criminals, we were political activists. I was
a college student until the police kicked down my door in an effort
to force me to "cooperate" with them and Sundiata
Acoli was a computer expert who had worked for NASA, before
he joined the Black Panther Party and was targeted by COINTELPRO.
an obvious maneuver to provoke sympathy for the police, the NBC
series juxtaposed my interview with the weeping widow of Werner
Forester. While I can sympathize with her grief, I believe that
her appearance was deliberately included to appeal to peoples emotions,
to blur the facts, to make me look like a villain, and to create
the kind of lynch mob mentality that has historically been associated
with white women portrayed as victims of black people. In essence
the supposed interview with me became a forum for the New State
Police, Forester's widow, and the obviously hostile commentary of
Ralph Penza. The two initial programs together lasted 3.5 minutes
- me - 59 seconds, the widow 50 seconds, the state police 38 seconds,
and Penza - 68 seconds. Not once in the interview was I ever asked
about Zayd, Sundiata
or their families. As the interview went on, it was painfully
evident that Ralph Penza would never see me as a human being. Although
I tried to talk about racism and about the victims of government
and police repression, it was clear that he was totally uninterested.
I have stated publicly on various occasions that I was ashamed of
participating in my trial in New Jersey trial because it was so
racist, but I did testify. Even though I was extremely limited by
the judge, as to what I could testify about, I testified as clearly
as I could about what happened that night. After being almost fatally
wounded I managed to climb in the back seat of the car to get away
from the shooting. Sundiata
drove the car five miles down the road carried me into a grassy
area because he was afraid that the police would see the car parked
on the side of the road and just start shooting into it again. Yes,
it was five miles down the highway where I was captured, dragged
out of the car, stomped and then left on the ground. Although I
drifted in and out of consciousness I remember clearly that both
while I was lying on the ground, and while I was in the ambulance,
I kept hearing the State troopers ask "is she dead yet?" Because
of my condition I have no independent recollection of how long I
was on the ground, or how long it was before the ambulance was allowed
to leave for the hospital, but in the trial transcript trooper Harper
stated that it was while he was being questioned, some time after
2:00 am that a detective told him that I had just been brought into
the hospital. I was the only live "suspect" in custody, and prior
to that time Harper, had never told anyone that a woman had shot
I watched Governor Whitman's interview the one thing that struck
me was her "outrage" at my joy about being a grandmother, and my
"quite nice life" as she put it here in Cuba. While I love the Cuban
people and the solidarity they have shown me, the pain of being
torn away from everybody I love has been intense. I have never had
the opportunity to see or to hold my grandchild. If Gov. Whitman
thinks that my life has been so nice, that 50 years of dealing with
racism, poverty, persecution, brutality, prison, underground, exile
and blatant lies has been so nice, then Id be more than happy to
let her walk in my shoes for a while so she can get a taste of how
it feels. I am a proud black woman, and I'm not about to get on
the television and cry for Ralph Penza or any other journalist,
but the way I have suffered in my lifetime, and the way my people
have suffered, only god can bear witness to.
Williams of the New Jersey State Police stated "we would do everything
we could go get her off the island of Cuba and if that includes
kidnapping, we would do it." I guess the theory is that if they
could kidnap millions of Africans from Africa 400 years ago, they
should be able to kidnap one African woman today. It is nothing
but an attempt to bring about the re-incarnation of the Fugitive
Slave Act. All I represent is just another slave that they want
to bring back to the plantation. Well, I might be a slave, but
I will go to my grave a rebellious slave. I am and I feel like
a maroon woman. I will never voluntarily accept the condition
of slavery, whether its de-facto or ipso facto, official, or unofficial.
In another recent interview, Williams talked about asking the
federal government to add to the $50,000 reward for my capture.
He also talked about seeking "outside money, or something like
that, a benefactor, whatever." Now who is he looking to "contribute"
to that "cause"? The ku klux klan, the neo nazi parties, the white
militia organizations? But the plot gets even thicker. He says
that the money might lure bounty hunters. "There are individuals
out there, I guess they call themselves ‘soldiers of fortune ’
who might be interested in doing something, in turning her over
to us." Well, in the old days they used to call them slave catchers,
trackers, or patter rollers, now they are called mercenaries.
Neither the governor nor the state police say one word about "justice."
They have no moral authority to do so. The level of their moral
and ethical bankruptcy is evident in their eagerness to not only
break the law and hire hoodlums, all in the name of "law and order."
But you know what gets to me, what makes me truly indignant? With
the schools in Paterson, N.J. falling down, with areas of Newark
looking like a disaster area, with the crack epidemic, with the
wide-spread poverty and unemployment in New Jersey, these depraved,
decadent, would-be slave masters want federal funds to help put
this "n-word wench" back in her place. They call me the "most
wanted woman" in Amerikkka. I find that ironic. I've never felt
very "wanted" before. When it came to jobs, I was never the "most
wanted," when it came to "economic opportunities I was never the
"most wanted, when it came to decent housing." It seems like the
only time Black people are on the "most wanted" list is when they
want to put us in prison. But at this moment, I am not so concerned
about myself. Everybody has to die sometime, and all I want is
to go with dignity. I am more concerned about the growing poverty,
the growing despair that is rife in Amerikkka. I am more concerned
about our younger generations, who represent our future. I am
more concerned that one third of young black are either in prison
or under the jurisdiction of the "criminal in-justice system."
I am more concerned about the rise of the prison industrial complex
that is turning our people into slaves again. I am more concerned
about the repression, the police brutality, violence, the rising
wave of racism that makes up the political landscape of the U.S.
today. Our young people deserve a future, and I consider it the
mandate of my ancestors to be part of the struggle to insure that
they have one. They have the right to live free from political
repression. The U.S. is becoming more and more of a police state
and that fact compels us to fight against political repression.
I urge you all, every single person who reads this statement,
to fight to free all political prisoners. As the concentration
camps in the U.S. turn into death camps, I urge you to fight to
abolish the death penalty. I make a special, urgent appeal to
you to fight to save the life of Mumia
Abu-Jamal, the only political prisoner who is currently on
death row. It has been a long time since I have lived inside the
United States. But during my lifetime I have seen every prominent
black leader, politician or activist come under attack by the
establishment media. When African Americans appear on news programs
they are usually talking about sports, entertainment or they are
in handcuffs. When we have a protest they ridicule it, minimized
it, or cut the numbers of the people who attended in half.
news is big business and it is owned operated by affluent white
men. Unfortunately, they shape the way that many people see the
world, and even the way people see themselves. Too often black journalists,
and other journalists of color mimic their white counterparts. They
often gear their reports to reflect the foreign policies and the
domestic policies of the same people who are oppressing their people.
In the establishment media, the bombing and of murder of thousands
of innocent women and children in Libya or Iraq or Panama is seen
as "patriotic," while those who fight for freedom, no matter where
they are, are seen as "radicals," "extremists," or "terrorists."
Like most poor and oppressed people in the United States, I do not
have a voice. Black people, poor people in the U.S. have no real
freedom of speech, no real freedom of expression and very little
freedom of the press. The black press and the progressive media
has historically played an essential role in the struggle for social
justice. We need to continue and to expand that tradition. We need
to create media outlets that help to educate our people and our
children, and not annihilate their minds. I am only one woman. I
own no TV stations, or Radio Stations or Newspapers. But I feel
that people need to be educated as to what is going on, and to understand
the connection between the news media and the instruments of repression
in Amerikkka. All I have is my voice, my spirit and the will to tell
the truth. But I sincerely ask, those of you
in the Black media, those of you in the progressive media, those
of you who believe in truth, freedom To publish this statement and
to let people know what is happening. We have no voice, so you must
be the voice of the voiceless.
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS, Wish
I could be there,Assata
poem by Assata Shakur)
it on now. Carry
it on. Carry
it on now. Carry
it on. Carry
on the tradition.
Their were Black People since the childhood of time who
carried it on. In
Ghana and Mali and Timbuktu We
carried it on. Carried
on the tradition.
hid in the bush. When
the slave masters came holding
when the moment was ripe, leaped
out and lanced the lifeblood of
our would-be masters. We
carried it on.
slave ships, hurling
ourselves into oceans. Slitting
the throats of our captors. We
took their whips. And
their ships Blood
flowed in the Atlantic and
it wasn't all ours. We
carried it on.
Missy arsenic apple pies. Stole
the axes from the shed. Went
and chopped off master's head. We
ran. We fought. We
organized a railroad. An
carried it on.
newspapers. In meetings. In
arguments and street fights. We
carried it on.
tales told to children. In
chants and cantatas. In
poems and blues songs and
saxophone screams, We
carried it on.
classrooms. In churches. In
courtrooms. In prisons. We
carried it on.
soapboxes and picket lines. Welfare
lines, unemployment Our
lives on the line, We
carried it on.
sit-ins and pray ins And
march ins and die ins, We
carried it on.
cold Missouri midnights Pitting
shotguns against lynch mobs On
burning Brooklyn streets Pitting
rocks against rifles, We
carried it on.
water hoses and bulldogs. Against
nightsticks and bullets. Against
tanks and tear gas. Needles
and nooses. Bombs
and birth control. We
carried it on.
Selma and San Juan. Mozambique,
Brazil and in Boston, We
carried it on.
the lies and the sell-outs, The
mistakes and the madness. Through
pain and hunger and frustration, We
carried it on.
on the tradition. Carried
a strong tradition. Carried
a proud tradition. Carried
a Black tradition. Carry
it down to the children. Pass
it down. Carry
it on. Carry
it on now. Carry
it on TO
Prison Industrial Complex"
Sisters, Brothers, Comrades,
in our history has critical resistance to the status quo been
more important. The growth of the
Prison Industrial complex has been appallingly rapid and the
escalating repression that has accompanied it is totally
alarming. What of future lies ahead of us? What are the implications
of for our children?
who are targeted as the victims of the
Prison Industrial Complex are mainly people of color.
They are Native Americans, Africans, Asians, and Latinos, who
came from societies where there were no prisons and where
prisons were an unknown concept. Prisons
were introduced in Africa, the Americas and Asia as by-products
of slavery and colonialism, and they continue to be instruments
exploitation and oppression. In the heart of the imperialist
empires, prisons also meant oppression. The prisons of Europe
were so overcrowded that European prisoners were sent to the colonies
and encouraged to enslave and colonize other peoples. In
England, during the so-called period of expansion, there
were not only debtor's prisons for the poor, but also more than
200 crimes that were punishable by death. During the French
revolution, the storming and destruction of the Bastille Prison,
became a symbol for liberation all over Europe. And
today, those of us whose ancestors were imprisoned in Slave
forts like Elmina, or Goree
Island, now find ourselves imprisoned in places like
Elmira, Rikers Island, Terminal Island, Marion or Florence.
The prisons that are being constructed In the United States
today are more sophisticated than concentration camps like Auschwitz
or Dachau, but they serve the same purpose. The profits
from prison industries, and prison slave labor is surpassing
the super exploitation levels of forced labor in Nazi concentration
Prison Industrial Complex is not only a mechanism to convert
Public tax money into profits for private corporations,
it is an essential element of modern neo-liberal capitalism. It
serves two purposes. One to neutralize and contain huge
segments of potentially rebellious sectors of the population,
and two, to sustain a system of super exploitation, where
mainly black and Latino captives are imprisoned in white
rural, overseer communities. People of color are easy targets.
Our criminalization and villianization is an Amerikkkan tradition.
The image of the dirty-lazy-shiftless- savage - backwards-
good for nothing - darkies has been the underpinning of the racist
culture and ideology, that dominates U.S. politics. One
of the basic tenets of that revolution was that only rich, white
men have the right to have a revolution, anyone else who
struggles for one is a terrorist or a subversive. The truth of
the matter is that oppressed people have, and have always
had a great deal more to be outraged about than taxation
torture, and beatings are as common in U.S. prisons today as they
were on slave plantations. And political prisoners bear
the brunt of this systematic brutality. Those who fight against
oppression are thrown into dungeons, rather than those who perpetuate
it. The prolonged torture of solitary confinement is being
used, not only as a weapon against political dissent, but as a
weapon against anyone who protests any of the injustices
of the system. How can you fight against injustice, without
demanding the liberation of political prisoners?
there are more young people behind bars because they have been
inculcated with and are reproducing the values of this decadent
capitalist system, than those who are consciously struggling
to change it. During the 1960s, when the movement was at its height,
the prison population was only a fraction of what it is
today. Those who institutionalized the kidnapping of Africans,
those who orchestrated genocide against Native Americans,
those who plunder the treasures of the world, and who are responsible
for the most heinous crimes on this planet, want to preach to
us about law and order. Those who profit from human misery
and deny us education, affirmation action, health care,
decent housing, want to lecture us about morality. Many of us
watch helplessly as our children imitate and internalize
the greedy, ostentatious, culture of conspicuous consumption,
practiced by those who oppress us.
We watch the same people who import drugs into the country, who
distribute them, in our communities, wage a war on us, in
the name of fighting drugs.
Prison Industrial complex is not a distortion of modern global
capitalism; it is part and parcel of that system.
It is not enough to fight against the Prison Industrial complex;
we must fight against the ideology that promotes it.
Human beings are social beings and have a basic need to live in
nurturing communities, instead of hostile ones. The people
on this planet have an infinite potential to contribute
to this planet and it is a crime to prevent us from doing so.
The human beings who live on this planet have an unlimited
ability to learn, to grow, to change, to be generous, to invent
and to share. It is a crime to prevent young people from
developing their talents. It is a crime to let individualistic
values destroy the collective good. To those who rule this
planet, we are all disposable. Our only value to them is
the wealth that we are capable of producing. It is a system with
no compassion, no love, and no faith.
kind of mentality is it that would classify a 5 year old as being
incorrigible? What kind of system would try
a 12 year as an adult? What kind of mentality is it that would
sentence a 20-year-old to life without parole? How can a
system claim to be nonviolent, while praising the death
penalty inside its borders, and bombing and killing innocent people
all over the world? This is a system that sells and promotes
and exports violence. It is a system that would rather warehouse
and murder its young, than cultivate them. In this grotesque
world with its grotesque, cynical values, it sounds, naive,
to believe in people, and believe in our ability to create a better
how can you believe in a future if you don't believe in people
who are going to make it? How can you believe in human rights
unless you believe in human beings? How can you say you believe
in justice, without believing in social justice, political
justice and economic justice for all people?
Prison Industrial complex not only destroys individuals; it
destroys families and communities. If we do not destroy
it, it will destroy us. I urge you to do everything you can to
break these chains.
All Political Prisoners! Free
Mumia Abu Jamal!
Message To My Sistas"
At this time I'd like to
say a few words especially to my sisters:SISTERS.
BLACK PEOPLE WILL NEVER BE FREE UNLESS
BLACK WOMEN PARTICIPATE
EVERY ASPECT OF OUR STRUGGLE, ON
EVERY LEVEL OF OUR STRUGGLE.I think that Black women, more than anybody on the face of
the earth, recognize the urgency of our situation. Because it
is We who come face to face daily with the institutions of our
oppression. And because it is We who have borne the major responsibility
of raising our children. And it is We who have to deal with the
welfare systems that do not care about the welfare of our children.
And it is We who have to deal with the school systems that do
not educate our children. It is We who have to deal with the racist
teachers who teach our children to hate themselves. It is We who
have seen the terrible effects of racism on our children. I
JUST WANT TO TAKE A MOMENT OUTTO
EXPRESS MY LOVE TO ALL OF YOU WHO
RISK YOUR LIVES DAILY STRUGGLING
OUT HERE ON THE FRONT LINES.We
who have watched our young grow too old, too soon. We who have
watched our children come home angry and frustrated and seen them
grow more bitter, more disillusioned with the passing of each
day. And We who have seen the sick, trapped look on the faces
of our children when they come to fully realize what it means
to be Black in Amerikkka. And we know what deprivation is. How
many times have We run out of bus fare, rent money, food money
and how many times have our children gone to school in hand-me-down
clothes, with holes in their shoes. We know what a hell-hole Amerikkka
is. We're afraid to let our children go out and play. We're afraid
to walk the streets at night. We sisters, We have seen our young,
the babies that We brought into this world with such great hopes
for, We have seen their bodies bloated and aching from drugs,
scarred and deformed by bullet holes. We know what oppression
is. We have been abused in every way imaginable. We have been
abused economically, politically. We have been abused physically,
and We have been abused sexually. And sisters, We have a long
and glorious history of struggle on this land/planet. Afrikan
women were strong and courageous warriors long before We came
to this country in chains. And here in Amerikkka, our sisters
have been on the front lines. Sister Harriet Tubman led the underground
railroad. And sisters like Rosa Parks, Fannie Lou Hammer, Sandra
Pratt and our Queen Mother Moore have carried it on. Sisters,
We have been the backbone of our communities, and We have got
to be the backbone of our nation. We have got to build strong
family units, based on love and struggle. We don't have no time
to play around.
REVOLUTIONARY WOMAN CAN'T HAVE NO REACTIONARY MAN.
he's not about liberation, if he's not about struggle, if he ain't
about building a strong Black nation then he ain't about nothing.
We know how to struggle. We know how to struggle and finagle to
survive. We know what it means, sisters, to struggle tooth and nail.
We know what it means to struggle with love. We know what unity
is. We know what sisterhood is. We have always been kind to each
other, brought each other hot soup and biscuits. We have always
helped each other through the hard times. Sisters, We must celebrate
Afrikan womanhood. We don't want to be like Miss Ann. She can keep
her false eyelashes and her false, despoiled image of womanhood.
She can keep her mink stole and her French provincial furniture.
We will define for ourselves what womanhood is. And We will create
our own style and our own ways of dress. We can't have no white
man in France telling Afrikan women what to look like. We will create
our own New Afrikan way of living. We will create our own way of
being and living our own New Afrikan culture, taking the best of
the old and mixing it with the new.
SISTERS WE HAVE GOT TO TAKE CONTROLOF
OUR LIVES AND OUR FUTURE WHEREVER
WE HAVE GOT TO ORGANIZE OURSELVESINTO
A STRONG BODY OF AFRIKAN WOMEN.
Sisters and Brothers,
we move toward a new millennium, we must face a bitter truth. For
African people born and raised in this country, the 20th century
has meant the transformation and the continuation of the same greedy,
racist policies that kept our ancestors enslaved. Our relationship
with the U.S. government is still one of domination and forced subordination,
using the cruelest forms of repression, the most sophisticated techniques
of mind control, based on vicious lies and distortions. The U.S.
government not only uses its military, economic, political and propaganda
machinery to dominate and exploit black people and other oppressed
people inside its borders, it uses the same system to try to dominate
and exploit entire countries, and subjugate huge portions of the
world's population. I don't have to talk about the terrible oppression
our people are living under, you know that better than i do. Many
of us who believed that we could work for change inside the system,
have discovered that we were only working under it, the same system
that denies us our basic liberties, our human rights and opposes
our quest for social justice and human development. In the hostile
reality that we are facing it is evident the only solutions are
radical solutions - radical changes in the priorities, and in the
political and economic structure of the U.S. government.
than at any other time in the last 20 years, millions of black people
are crying out for change, for self determination, for principled
leadership and for a genuinely democratic movement. I am elated
and very proud that so many seasoned political activists have risen
to the occasion and come together to try and meet the many challenges
that we as a people are facing. Our commitment to social change
represents our commitment to the future. We have an heavy historical
duty that we must fulfill, but is a beautiful and noble task. It
is not easy to build a growing, organized, sustained people's movement,
but without such a movement the future of our children is in extreme
danger. As in any struggle for social change, there will be many
different opinions, and many different approaches. I hope that we
have learned enough from the past to minimize our differences and
to maximize what we have in common. I hope that we will leave our
negativity and pessimism at home, and allow ourselves to be open,
to be creative, to be open, to be understanding. I hope that we
will differ with love, debate with kindness and take full advantage
of the strength and the sweetness of unity. Let us call on the spirit
of our ancestors. Let us be humbled by their strength, by their
sacrifices and by the beauty and love that they passed down to us.
all Political Prisoners, I send you Love and Revolutionary
Greetings From Cuba, One of the Largest,
Most Resistant and Most Courageous Palenques
(Maroon Camps) That has ever existed on
the Face of this Planet.