Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., is a staunch defender of convicted cop killer and domestic terrorist Joanne Chesimard, who just became the first woman ever to be placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted List.
Chesimard, living under asylum in Cuba, also goes by her Black Panther name of Assata Shakur. She was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted by a jury of the 1979 murder of a New Jersey state trooper. Less than two years later, Chesimard escaped from prison and lived underground before surfacing in Cuba in 1984.
On Sept. 14, 1998, the House of Representatives, of which Waters was a member, passed a unanimous resolution requesting Fidel Castro extradite Chesimard to the United States. The name on the resolution, affirmed by Waters, was Joanne Chesimard and not Assata Shakur.
Waters said she only realized Chesimard’s identity after the vote and wrote a letter to Fidel Castro explaining that she, as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and other CBC members had “mistakenly voted” in favor of the resolution.
Waters claimed the Republicans had “slipped” the bill into an accelerated calendar in order to look “tough on Cuba” for the November elections. Waters claimed the Republicans had deliberately used Chesimard’s given name to deceive. Had she known Chesimard’s identity, she wrote, she would have voted otherwise.
On May 2, 1973, Chesimard and a pair of accomplices were stopped by two troopers for a motor vehicle violation on the New Jersey Turnpike. At the time, Chesimard – a member of the violent revolutionary activist organization known as the Black Liberation Army – was wanted for her involvement in several felonies, including bank robbery.
According to the FBI, Chesimard and her accomplices opened fire on the troopers. One officer was wounded, and his partner – Trooper Werner Foerster – was shot and killed at point-blank range. One of Chesimard’s accomplices was killed in the shootout, and the other was arrested and remains in jail.
“Joanne Chesimard is a domestic terrorist who murdered a law enforcement officer execution-style,” said Aaron Ford, special agent in charge of the Newark Division. “Today, on the anniversary of Trooper Werner Foerster’s death, we want the public to know that we will not rest until this fugitive is brought to justice.”
Mike Rinaldi, a lieutenant in the New Jersey State Police and member of the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark, said the case “is just as important today as it was when it happened 40 years ago.”
“Bringing Joanne Chesimard back here to face justice is still a top priority,” he said.
Waters defends terrorist as victim
In 1998, Waters released a statement defending Castro’s right to grant asylum to Chesimard despite her conviction for murder in the U.S.
Stated Waters: “I support the right of all nations to grant political asylum to individuals fleeing political persecution. The United States grants political asylum to individuals from all over the world who successfully prove they are fleeing political persecution. Other sovereign nations have the same right, including the sovereign nation of Cuba.”
In her statement, Waters further defended Chesimard, claiming the convicted domestic terrorist was a victim of political persecution.
“The second reason I oppose this measure,” stated Waters, “is because I respect the right of Assata Shakur to seek political asylum. Assata Shakur has maintained that she was persecuted as a result of her political beliefs and political affiliations. As a result, she left the United States and sought political asylum in Cuba, where she still resides.
“In a sad and shameful chapter of our history, during the 1960s and 1970s, many civil rights, Black Power and other politically active groups were secretly targeted by the FBI for prosecution based on their political beliefs.”
Notably, domestic terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn named one of their children after Zayd Shakur, Chesimard’s associate who was killed in the gun battle with the police. Ayers’ and Dohrn’s son, a playwright, now goes by the name Zayd Dohrn.