JoAnne Chesimard, widely known as Assata Shakur, has a $1 million bounty on her head for her capture issued by the government. This comes 30 years after she escaped a maximum-security jail and found political sanctuary in Cuba. For those not familiar with Tupac’s godmother’s past, Shakur was a member of the Black Panther Party and was involved in a highly controversial shootout in New Jersey that left two dead and two incarcerated.
The announcement ironically comes on the 32nd anniversary of the incident. Artists such as Paris, Chuck D and Common have made songs supporting Shakur and her noble cause. The fateful incident involved a supposed routine pullover of Assata, Zayd Shakur and Sundiata Acoli’s vehicle for a broken taillight. Temperatures escalated and various versions of the story have been told but in the end Zayd Shakur and Trooper Werner Foerster were left dead while Officer Harper and Assata were injured. Authorities state that Shakur murdered Foerster executioner style even though she herself was severely wounded being shot twice. She ended up convicted and spent 6 ½ years in the maximum-security wing of the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey. She escaped in 1979 and found asylum in Cuba.
Many believe that she was set up for her involvement in the Black Panther Party and became one of many political prisoners. The 57 year old still maintains her innocence.
“She is now 120 pounds of money,” State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes said to the NJ Star-Ledger. “[This new initiative] is going to exert pressures that weren’t in place nationally and internationally before. And we’re going to follow up to make sure everybody is aware of this both inside and outside of Cuba.“
For more information on Shakur, check out her autobiography titled “Assata”.