One day after the FBI and the state of New Jersey announced that former Black Panther Assata Shakur had become the first woman on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List, Angela Davis and Shakur’s longtime attorney Lennox Hinds went on Democracy Now in the exile’s defense. Like many of Shakur’s supporters in the U.S. and abroad, both Davis and Hinds questioned why the FBI has suddenly renewed its interest in the Shakur’s capture; currently, Shakur is 66-years-old and has been living in exile for over three decades.
Well, see, 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 theFBI represents as terrorism. You know, certainly, Assata continues to advocate radical transformation of this country, as many of us do. You know, 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 precisely is designed to frighten young people, especially today, who would be involved in the kind of radical activism that might lead to change.
Now, why today is Assata Shakur now being branded a terrorist? If we look at the definition of terrorism, 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? You have heard, in her own words, this woman was a political activist. She was targeted by whom? J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI in a program that was called COINTELPRO. That program was unveiled by whom? Frank Church, Senator Frank Church, in the 1970s. He chaired the Senate Intelligence Committee. That committee determined that the FBI was using both legal, but mostly illegal, methods—to do what? In the FBI’s own words, they wanted to discredit, to stop the rise of a black messiah—that was the fear of the FBI—so that there would not be a Mau Mau, in their words, uprising in the United States.
You can see the entire interview and transcript over at Democracy Now.
At this point, one can only speculate about why the state has renewed its efforts to capture Shakur. But what’s clear is that they’re serious about it. In addition to offering a $2 million reward for her capture, the FBI has also put up billboards around New Jersey.