A New Jersey police group called State Troopers Fraternal Organization of New Jersey wants to block flights to Cuba until Assata Shakur is returned.
“We strongly oppose any request or approval of United Airlines or any other airline a permit to NJ Port Authority airports to fly back and forth to a country such as Cuba, that has openly slapped all Americans in the face with their policy of keeping U.S. fugitives away and safe from the reach of U.S. justice,” wrote Christopher Burgos, the president of the organization, in a February 17 letter.
The letter was written one day after Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx signed an agreement with his Cuban counterpart that would allow up to 110 daily flights to Cuba, with the first of those flights possibly taking place as early as this upcoming fall after the department has finished reviewing applications from rival airlines for the slots that would make up those daily flights.
The White House has made it clear that the longstanding issue of fugitives in Cuba is still on the table as part of ongoing talks between the United States and Cuba.
Assata Shakur, 67, also known as JoAnne Chesimard, was a member of the Black Panther Party and the Black Liberation Army. She became a member of the Black Power movement at a time when many activists were galvanized following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.
In 1973, Shakur was arrested during a traffic stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. A shootout left Assata injured with multiple wounds, the driver, Zayd Shakur, dead, and a state trooper dead. In 1977, after numerous trials, she was convicted of first degree murder of the officer. And in 1979, Shakur escaped and fled to Cuba, where Fidel Castro granted her asylum.
In March of 2015, Gustavo Machin, a representative of the Cuban government, told Yahoo news that the return of Joanne Chesimard also known as Assata Shakur was “off the table.”