Chesimard Book Shows Commitment To Radicalism
DANIEL J. WAKIN
Oct. 17, 1987
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) _ Fugitive JoAnne Chesimard's autobiography accuses law officers of brutality, racism and torture and calls on black revolutionaries to prepare for guerrilla war.
Ms. Chesimard, who has adopted the African name Assata Shakur, weaves together two stories in her 274-page memoir: her passage to adulthood in racist ''Amerika'' and the procession of trials she faced on bank robbery, kidnapping and murder charges.
''Assata: An Autobiography'' is due for release in a month, her publisher said last week. The book was written during the past three years while Ms. Shakur has been living in asylum in Cuba.
She arrived there in 1984, five years after escaping from the Correctional Institution for Women in Clinton, where she had been serving a life term for the fatal shooting of a state trooper on the New Jersey Turnpike.
Ms. Shakur, one of the most wanted fugitives of the 1970s, does not discuss the 1973 shooting, what she did before arriving in Cuba or the route she followed. Authorities have said she made stops in East Orange, Pittsburgh and the Bahamas.
In book galleys received from Westport, Conn.-based publisher, Lawrence Hill & Co., the beliefs that brought Ms. Shakur to the Black Panther Party and other radical causes are evident.
''As fast as this country is moving to the fascist far right, black revolutionary organizations should start preparing for the inevitability'' of guerrilla action, the 40-year-old woman writes.
Earlier, after saying a race war should be avoided at all costs, Ms. Shakur writes, ''We will be criminally negligent, however, if we do not deal with racism and racist violence, and if we do not prepare to defend ourselves against it.''
The book is peppered with references to police as ''pigs'' and to whites as ''krakas,'' her spelling for the derogatory ''crackers.'' ''Amerika,'' ''kourts'' and other words connected with U.S. institutions that contain the letter ''c'' are spelled with a ''k'' as a sign of contempt, according to publishing company president Lawrence Hill.
She uses a lower-case ''i'' for the first-person pronoun ''to take the emphasis off the egotistical implications of the capital 'i,''' Hill said.
The book opens with the aftermath of the 1973 shooting, and Ms. Shakur describes her alleged abuse at the hands of police, beginning with her discovery in a car.
''Suddenly, the door flew open and i felt myself being dragged out onto the pavement. Pushed and punched, a foot upside my head, a kick in the stomach,'' she writes.
Later in the hospital, a detective ''sticks his fingers in my eyes.'' Something on his fingertips burns, and ''he says he will keep doing it until i am completely blind.'' Guards point guns at her, and sometimes pull the trigger of an unloaded weapon, she writes.
The book includes an introduction by Ms. Shakur's attorney, Lennox Hinds, chairman of the Rutgers University Criminal Justice Department, in which he makes legal arguments on her behalf and notes that in six other trials, the charges were dismissed, she was acquitted or the jury couldn't decide the case.