On Wednesday most people thought that when Mos Def and Talib Kweli were to link up that it would be for the long awaited Black Star album. But this was for a cause far more important.
The two emcees got together with singer Martin Luther at City Hall to raise awareness about exiled political activist Assata Shakur. Together, with City Councilman Charles Barron, they joined forces to demand that the government drop the $1 million bounty that was placed on the 57 year old woman’s head and remove Shakur from the domestic terrorist watch list.
For those who don’t know, Assata was a former member of the Black Panther Party who ended up involved in the 1973 shootout that left a state trooper and a Black Panther killed. Assata and Sundiata Acoli were convicted of both murders. Even though there wasn’t any substantial evidence to convict either of the crime (no gun residue, injuries inflected that would render her incapable of firing a gun) she was sentenced to a maximum-security prison. She escaped in 1979 and found political asylum in Cuba. The bounty was originally $150,000 but has been significantly raised to $1 million this past May.
“It’s long overdue for her to receive clemency and come home,” Barron said according to MTV. “I’m infuriated that a bounty has been put on her, placing her life in danger. She is a hero to our community.“
“It seems the government wants to rally people behind causes that don’t really have any merit. Assata is not a threat. She is someone who was falsely accused and has political asylum. They’ve put this new bounty on her head, and it’s a shameful example of the government taking advantage of its position and trying to police the world.” says Talib Kweli
“People can believe what they want, but the truth is what it is,” says Mos Def, who is working on his upcoming album The Undeniable Free Flaco. “And the facts surrounding her case are indisputable and well-known. People should be more aware of what’s going on with her case and the true motivation behind her persecution. It’s a very dangerous time for all Americans when any voice of dissent is this hotly hunted down, and when anyone’s life is reduced to 125 pounds of money and they’re trying to stand up for us and our people. Everybody needs to be concerned.“