On Wednesday, President Obama announced that the US would be participating in a prisoner swap with Cuba– a place that has long been a haven for people on the run from the law. Upon hearing the news, New Jersey officials are seeking to bring Assata Shakur back to the states to serve out her life sentence for the murder of N.J. State Trooper, Warren Foerster. Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen has called upon the federal government to bring her stateside so that “she can face justice.”
“To me, the New Jersey law enforcement community and many other Americans, one of the biggest impediments to improved relations between the United States and Cuba is the continued safe haven provided to the fugitive, Joanne Chesimard. I would demand that the White House and the State Department work much harder to bring this murderer ‘home’ to New Jersey where she can face justice and serve out her sentence.”
Frelinghuysen isn’t the only one who feels this way. In an email, Department of Justice spokesperson, Brian Fallon assured that they would be follow up on this matter.
“We will continue to press for the return of U.S. fugitives in Cuba to pursue justice for the victims of their crimes in our engagement with the Cuban government.”
Born Joanne Chesimard, Shakur was convicted of first-degree murder and seven other felonies in 1977 after a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike left the state trooper and Zayd Shakur dead in 1973. While riding in the car with Zayd (they shared no relation) and Sundiata Acoli, their car was pulled over for a routine traffic stop. Gun violence broke out, during which Shakur and state trooper James Harper were both injured.
Assata Shakur served two years of her sentence before escaping prison. She fled to Cuba five years later, where she has lived ever since. A member of the Black Liberation Army, she became the first woman on the FBI Most Wanted terror list.
There is debate on Shakur’s exact role in the murder since Harper, the other state trooper involved in the shooting admitting to lying about her pulling the trigger during her trial.