Petition calls for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to pardon Assata Shakur
A new Change.org petition is calling for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to pardon Assata Shakur.
Shakur was arrested during a traffic stop in New Jersey. A shootout left her injured with multiple wounds, the driver, Zayd Shakur dead, and a state trooper dead. After several trials, she was convicted of first degree murder of an officer in 1977. In 1979, she escaped and fled to Cuba, where Fidel Castro granted her asylum.
“Assata was falsely charged on numerous occasions in the United States during the early 1970s and vilified by the media,” said scholar and activist Angela Davis in a recent commentary in The Guardian. Davis added Shakur “was charged with armed robbery, bank robbery, kidnap, murder, and attempted murder of a policeman. Although she faced 10 separate legal proceedings, and had already been pronounced guilty by the media, all except one of these trials – the case resulting from her capture – concluded in acquittal, hung jury, or dismissal.”
“Under highly questionable circumstances, she was finally convicted of being an accomplice to the murder of a New Jersey state trooper,” she added.
According to the National Lawyers Guild, who represented Shakur in her final trial, the proceedings were plagued with constitutional violations, including an all-white jury of 15 people, including five jurors who had personal connections to state troopers. A state Assemblyman spoke to jurors while they were sequestered, urging them to convict.
President Obama recently announced plans to normalize Cuban relations, making it possible for Assata to be extradited back to the country and forced to serve her life sentence.
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