Tupac Shakur‘s 65-year-old godmother, Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, has become the first woman to be placed on the FBI’s Most-Wanted Terrorists list.
Chesimard, a black liberation activist, was convicted in 1977 of shooting policeman Werner Foerster on the New Jersey Turnpike after being pulled over for a traffic offense. She escaped from prison in 1979, and after holing up in a series of safe houses, fled to Cuba in 1984, where she has been ever since. Chesimard, who denies any involvement in the killing, was embraced by Cuba as a freedom fighter and granted political asylum, with Fidel Castro once hailing her as a refugee from a racist political system.
But the FBI don’t agree, using the 40th anniversary of the crime to highlight the case. “Chesimard is a domestic terrorist who murdered a law enforcement officer execution-style. We want the public to know that we will not rest until this fugitive is brought to justice. She’s a danger to the American government,” said Aaron Ford, an FBI special agent in Newark, New Jersey.
Chesimard is classified as a domestic terrorist because of her role in the Black Liberation Army, an underground, black nationalist militant organisation made up of mostly former Black Panthers that operated in the 1970s. The reward for her capture has been upped to $2 million.