On Sunday, the Women’s March Twitter account wished a happy birthday to the number one “most wanted terrorist” on the FBI’s list, a cop killer who escaped from a life sentence for first-degree murder. The Twitter account later defended this action, saying that although the terrorist “took a militant approach,” they can still “appreciate her work.”
“Happy birthday to the revolutionary #AssataShakur! Today’s #SignOfResistance, in Assata’s honor, is by @MeloniousFunk,” the account tweeted on Sunday.
— Women's March (@womensmarch) July 16, 2017
“Mama Assata Shakur” is the alias for one Joanne Deborah Chesimard, who ranks number one on the FBI’s list of “most wanted terrorists.” The agency is still offering $1 million as a reward for information which results in her capture.
A member of the revolutionary extremist Black Liberation Army, Chesimard and her accomplices shot one policeman and executed another at point-blank range in 1973. Before this, she was wanted for several felonies, including bank robbery. While serving a life sentence for first-degree murder, she escaped from prison in 1979. She remains at large in Cuba.
Even a sympathetic profile from Britain’s The Guardian newspaper noted that the terrorist, while celebrated among some in the hip-hop community, was part of an organization that took part “in at least 38 criminal incidents.”
“You have to look at the history of the BLA,” FBI special agent Barbara Woodruff told The Guardian. “Even though she was convicted of one murder, [Chesimard] was part of an organization which, from the 1970s to 1984, were involved in at least 38 criminal incidents, including armed assaults, assassinations, bombings, hijackings — of those 38, 18 were against law enforcement officers.”
No less a figure than CNN host Jake Tapper castigated the Women’s March for wishing Chesimard a happy birthday.
“Shakur is a cop-killer fugitive in Cuba,” Tapper tweeted. “This, ugly sentiments from [Linda Sarsour] & [the Chicago Dyke March] …Any progressives out there condemning this?”
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) July 18, 2017
Tapper referred to Linda Sarsour, a Women’s March organizer who declared a “jihad” against President Donald Trump early this month. His second reference was to the Chicago Dyke March, a black transgender group which took fire from Gretchen Rachel Hammond, a reporter at the Chicago LGBT paper Windy City Times, for throwing out three Jewish women. Hammond reportedly lost her job after attacking this anti-Semitism.
Rather than distance itself from Chesimard, the Women’s March account took a clear step to endorse her on Monday night.
In a 20-tweet statement, the movement emphasized, “We have never and will never use violence to achieve our goals,” but it insisted on defending the cop-killer.
#AssataShakur's resistance tactics were different from ours. That does not mean that we do not respect her anti-sexism work. (6/20)
— Women's March (@womensmarch) July 17, 2017
“Assata Shakur’s resistance tactics were different from ours. That does not mean that we do not respect her anti-sexism work,” the Women’s March declared. “Assata Shakur took a militant approach. We do not. That does not mean we don’t respect and appreciate her anti-racism work.”
The Women’s March mentioned COINTELPRO, a series of covert, and often illegal, projects conducted by the FBI to surveil, infiltrate, discredit, and disrupt American political organizations. This was an abuse of federal power, and the fact that the FBI used it to surveil Martin Luther King, Jr. is no less than a national tragedy.
However, the Black Liberation Army (BLA) — to which Chesimard belonged — was a black nationalist militant organization, which was founded by former Black Panthers, and its stated goal was to “take up arms for the liberation and self-determination of black people in the United States.” The BLA carried out bombings, murders, robberies, and prison breaks. This does not justify illegal government surveillance of the organization, but this is not an organization the Women’s March should be defending.
The Women’s March’s decision to back a terrorist group and a convicted cop killer in order to further the “resistance” against President Trump should concern more than just the “far right.” But Black Lives Matter lamented the death of Fidel Castro because he harbored such fugitives. The Left seems not to be learning the lessons of the Steve Scalise shooting. Expect violent rhetoric to continue.