Twenty six years ago today three individuals signed in as visitors to see Assata Shakur, who was at that time a prisoner of war, framed by the United States government as part of its vendetta against the Black Liberation Movement.
Only thing was, these “visitors” had other plans… they managed to smuggle in guns, took some guards hostage and managed to break Assata out of jail. Comrades were waiting in a car not far away, and they all made it away.
One of the finest operations ever carried out by the radical left in North America, if you ask me…
None of the guards were harmed, and despite a massive FBI manhunt Shakur managed to disappear without a trace. It was five years later – in 1984 – that Assata made a public statement, letting us know that she was living in Cuba, working on a masters degree in political science, writing her autobiography, and raising her daughter.
Sadly, several comrades - Marilyn Buck, Mutulu Shakur and Sekou Odinga and Silvia Baraldini – were arrested over the next years and charged with having participated in the jailbreak. All but Baraldini remain behind bars today. Black Liberation Army martyr Kuwasi Balagoon – who died of AIDS while in prison in 1986 – was also said to have been a member of the Black Liberation Army unit that participated in the action.
For years the US government has had a bounty on Assata's head - $150,000 for the forcible return of this remarkable woman, this "twentieth century escaped slave". In May of 2005 the federal government upped the bounty, now offering one million dollars for anyone who might kidnap and her and return her to her to the US plantation. Bounty hunters and right-wing mercenaries now have an added incentive to target Assata, and the television show America's Most Wanted featured her earlier this year, encouraging viewers to do what they could to apprehend her. All of which, it must be said, is as much about the broader trend towards repression within the United States and that country's war of attrition against Cuba as it is about Assata herself.
For more information about Assata Shakur – including information about ordering her autobiography Assata – please visit the Assata Shakur Page on the Kersplebedeb Site.
For more information about Kuwasi Balagoon, including information about the incredible book A Soldier’s Story, check out the Kuwasi Balagoon Memorial Page.
For more information about political prisoners and prisoners of war in the United States, check out the Kersplebedeb PP/POW Page.
Categories: armed-struggle, black-liberation-movement, history, prison