CNN contributor in hot water for praising ‘cop killer’ Assata Shakur as ‘freedom fighter’
The Temple University professor and CNN contributor posted a photograph of Shakur on her 71st birthday, writing that he was praying for her “continued safety and protection” and said that reading her books had changed his life.
Thinking about Assata Shakur on her 71st birthday. She wrote the second book that changed (and saved) my life. She taught me about the value and power of Freedom Dreams. She showed me the beauty of struggle. And she proved that "a wall is just a wall. and nothing more at all. It can be broken down." I pray for her continued safety and protection. I continue to work to demonstrate her innocence. And I implore the State to stop prosecuting an unjust and unfair campaign against one of our most treasured Freedom Fighters. Thank you Mama Assata. Wishing you 100 more years! #palenquequeen #handsoffassata #freeallpoliticalprisoners #everysingleone
Shakur, a New York native, escaped from prison in 1979 where she was serving a life sentence for killing a New Jersey State Trooper during a shootout between the Black Liberation Army (BLA) and the police after a traffic stop allegedly for driving with a faulty tail light. With help from the BLA, she then fled to Cuba where she has been living as a fugitive for more than 30 years. Her supporters believe she was wrongfully convicted and was targeted by the police.
In 2013, the FBI placed Shakur, whose real name is Joanne Chesimard, on its list of top 10 most-wanted terrorists with an award of up to $2 million for her capture, saying that she “continues to maintain and promote her terrorist ideology” providing anti-US government speeches and “espousing the Black Liberation Army’s message of revolution and terrorism.”
Unsurprisingly, Hill’s praise of Shakur attracted a wave of criticism on Instagram and Twitter, with some accusing him of celebrating “cop killers” and expressing disgust at the idea of holding up a “terrorist” and “murderer” as a hero.
University Professor and CNN commentator inspired by a 'cop-killer'. Somehow it's not surprising.— JBW (@Hunter1872) July 16, 2018
She's a terrorist who murdered a cop— Glutton4Pnshmnt (@Glutton4Pnshmnt) July 17, 2018
I have no respect for you at all. This woman murdered a cop and you think about her on her 71 birthday. You talk about rights what about the cop's she murdered rights and dreams.— Douglas R Kammerer (@drk4043) July 16, 2018
But some were supportive of Hill and called Shakur a “brilliant revolutionary” and a “hero and a national treasure” and said there was “no concrete evidence” that she had killed the officer.
She is a hero and a national treasure.— Sponge315 (@sponge315) July 16, 2018
No concrete evidence Ms Shakur did the crime when my people was infiltrated by the government.. Cointelpro Rings a bell— todd muhammad (@diabb42) July 16, 2018
Despite the flood of criticism, Hill later doubled down on his original post and clarified that he wasn’t supporting Shakur’s alleged crimes, but arguing that she was innocent of committing them.
Unless, of course, you’ve studied the case rather than doing a quick google. Research, including the medical evidence, clearly shows she was wrongfully convicted. But even if you disagree, it’s dishonest to suggest that I’m supporting the alleged crimes. I’m arguing innocence. https://t.co/7HzwL9QliI— Marc Lamont Hill (@marclamonthill) July 16, 2018