Hands Off Assata: Detroit City Council Supports Exiled Revolutionary

Detroit City Council supports exiled revolutionary

Published Aug 16, 2005 8:48 PM

The Detroit City Council unanimously passed a resolution declaring July 17, International Hands Off Assata Day in support of the African American freedom fighter, Assata Shakur. July 17 is Shakur's birthday.

The resolution included a brief synopsis of Shakur's political history, including her being a target of the FBI's racist Counter Intelligence Program (Cointelpro) during the 1960s and 1970s. The resolution denounced the $1 million bounty put on Shakur's head by the U.S. government May 2 to encourage her being kidnapped from Cuba. She has been living in exile there since her escape from prison in the United States in 1979.

To read the resolution in its entirety, go to

Detroit resolution supports freedom fighter Assata Shakur

Published Aug 16, 2005 9:19 PM

The following resolution was unanimously passed by the Detroit City Council on July 27, 2005. The resolution was submitted by Council Member Joann Watson

WHEREAS, Pervasive and unrelenting police terrorism directed at communities of color during the 1960s made necessary the formation of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense; and

WHEREAS, Numerous dedicated and courageous young people of African ancestry enlisted in the ranks of the Black Panther Party to monitor and deter police violence, and to staff community service programs aimed at providing food, health care, legal assistance, transportation and other services to Black and other poor people living in poverty; and

WHEREAS, One of the committed individuals who joined the Black Panther Party was Assata Shakur; and

WHEREAS, J. Edgar Hoover, then-Director of the FBI, proclaimed that the Black Panther Party was the greatest threat to the internal security’ of the United States; and

WHEREAS, The FBI commenced an illegal campaign of terror against the Black Panther Party that came to be known as COINTELPRO’ (CounterIntelligence Program); and

WHEREAS, In the face of increasing government violence directed at the Black Panther Party and other activists, Assata Shakur became one of many targets of government surveillance, harassment and intimidation; and

WHEREAS, On May 2, 1973, Shakur and others in a vehicle in which she was traveling became the victims of racial profiling when they were stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike, allegedly because of a broken tail-light; and

WHEREAS, Shakur reported that, during the stop, she was shot twice after she had complied with the New Jersey State Troopers´ demand that she raise her hands; and

WHEREAS, During the stop, fatal gunshot wounds were sustained by a State Trooper and one of Shakur's companions; and

WHEREAS, Shakur was later charged with both deaths and then tried before an all-white jury; and

WHEREAS, Notwithstanding the fact that defense lawyers presented objective medical and other evidence that substantiated Shakur´s contention that her hands were raised when she was shot, she was nevertheless convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment plus 33 years; and

WHEREAS, Shakur reported that she endured torture and continuing threats of violence while in the custody of police and prison officials; and

WHEREAS, Shakur escaped from Clinton Correctional Institution in 1979 after she concluded that her life was in danger and that she had no hope of receiving justice; and

WHEREAS, Even though Shakur was ultimately granted political asylum in Cuba, New Jersey and Federal officials have pursued her relentlessly since her escape; and

WHEREAS, No extradition treaty exists between the United States and Cuba, and consequently there are no legal grounds for demanding Shakur´s return to U.S. shores; and

WHEREAS, On May 2, 2005, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it is offering an extraordinary $1 million bounty for Shakur´s capture, notwithstanding the fact that supporters contend that she has been repeatedly denied the following and other human rights recognized under international law: freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention and exile; freedom from torture, and cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment; a presumption of innocence at trial; and the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution; and

WHEREAS, The bounty is likely to encourage illegal and unjustifiable kidnapping attempts that will place Shakur´s life in jeopardy; and

WHEREAS, Shakur´s supporters have proclaimed Sunday, July 17, 2005 as International Hands Off Assata Day’; NOW, THEREFORE BE IT

RESOLVED, That the City Council for the City of Detroit calls upon the U.S. Justice Department to demonstrate respect for U.S. and international law by immediately withdrawing the offer to pay a $1 million bounty for the capture of Assata Shakur; AND BE IT FURTHER

RESOLVED, That the City Council for the City of Detroit proclaims its support for "lnternational Hands Off Assata Day’ on Sunday, July 17, 2005.

---Monica Moorehead

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