Tupac Shakur‘s godmother has been placed on the FBI’s Most-Wanted Terrorists list, becoming the first woman added to the list and only the second domestic terrorist. Joanne Chesimard, now known as Assata Shakur, was convicted in 1977 of the murder of 34-year-old state trooper Werner Foerster on the New Jersey Turnpike. After her conviction, she escaped prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba.
The FBI says it added Chesimard, 66, to the list because she is “a supreme terror against the government” who continues to advocate revolution and terrorism against the U.S. “She’s a danger to the American government,” said Aaron T. Ford, agent in charge of the F.B.I.’s Newark division, according to The New York Times. Chesimard was a member of the Black Panther Party, which was monitored by the FBI with both legal and illegal surveillance in the Sixties and Seventies.
Foerster was killed on May 2nd, 1973, after he and another trooper stopped a car containing Chesimard and two other individuals. The FBI points to Chesimard as the instigator who fired the first shot, which hit Foerster’s fellow trooper. Foerster and an associate of Chesimard were killed in the incident, and Chesimard was hit in the shoulder during the gunfire.
Supporters of Chesimard say her injury would have prevented her from firing a weapon, and see her placement on the Most-Wanted Terrorist list as the FBI opportunistically jumping on the 40th anniversary of Foerster’s murder, as well as heightened awareness around domestic terrorism following the Boston Marathon bombings last month.
“There is no evidence that she in fact either caused the death or was involved in the shooting of the state trooper,” said Lennox S. Hinds, 73, who defended Chesimard in the murder case. “The allegation that Ms. Shakur is a terrorist is unfounded. . . . The attempt at this point by the New Jersey State Police to characterize her as a terrorist is designed to inflame the public who may be unfamiliar with the facts.”
The reward for Chesimard’s capture is now $2 million.