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An Open Letter to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie: Leave Assata Shakur Alone And Free Others

November 23, 2015 by Herbert Daughtry

In Newark, NJ, there is talk of creating a direct flight from Newark to Cuba. It has been reported that you, Governor Chris Christie, wanted to block the airline until Ms. Assata Shakur returned to NJ. I am aware that Ms. Shakur is accused of killing police officers, and that she was freed from jail  in New Jersey and took exile in Cuba where she has been ever since.
I don’t know if any of the accusations are true, but the fact is it was a long time ago. It was during a time when the FBI, under the leadership of Mr. John Edgar  Hoover, along with law enforcement personnel across the country, were waging war against many who were critical of the U.S. government and the pervasive climate of “militarism, racism, and materialism.” Particularly, the Black communities were targeted.
It’s a documented fact that the FBI and other law enforcement personnel, in what was known as the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO),  killed some of these so-called militants and sowed seeds of discord among groups, causing them to engage in violence against each other. They had innocent people arrested. Even Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Dr. MLK, Jr.) did not escape their grimy, bloody hands.
Many young men and women, especially Black, were rounded up and jailed. Many of them have been in jail ever since – for over 40 years. Some of them have died in jail. They have educated themselves. They have been helpful in many ways by teaching and training others in social and legal matters. In a word, they have been model prisoners. However, every time they come up for parole, there is a furious resistance engineered by the very agencies that initiated the war; thus, preventing any possibility of parole.
In the early 1980s, I chaired a panel on the FBI activities in the 1960s. Some of the groups which had been targeted came to the session with the documentation, validating beyond controversy the nefarious activities perpetrated on them by the FBI and other law enforcement personnel. I wish you could have been there, Governor. It was an unbelievable experience hearing and reading about those who were supposed to be engaged in protection and upholding the law, were involved in some of the most treacherous and scurrilous acts of misconduct.
Isn’t it time to let bygones be bygones? Isn’t it time to confess guilt – especially by law enforcement, and say, “Let’s work for peace.” Wouldn’t it better than fighting a war that was initiated and sustained by the same people who want to continue the war? It would be a marvelous moment in America if we could have a “Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC)” as they did in South Africa without accusing anyone, or with everyone accepting some blame for that terrible period in American history; and, then, agree to never allow it to happen again, and work together to make America all that it should be and can be.
Mr. Governor, I implore you to leave Ms. Assata Shakur alone. Even if she wants to come back to the U.S., let her return. To repeat, understanding that we lived through a time when there was enough blame to go around, let’s work for peace. Wouldn’t it be better than continuing to fight a war that should have never been fought in the first place?
Let’s remember that the Scripture teaches that if we do not forgive others, our heavenly Father will not forgive us. I am sure you will agree, Mr. Governor, we, as individuals, and we, as a nation, desperately need forgiveness. I shudder to think what will happen to us and the nation if God refuses to forgive us, and we all suffer the retribution that we deserve.
(Originally published in the Daily Challenge on October 29, 2015.)