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Two Narratives of a Traffic Stop
There are two 40-year-old narratives underpinning this case: an official US government narrative that is open-and-shut, and another narrative that recognizes the history of repression faced by black radicals and the oppression of black communities.
Officially, Shakur’s status as a domestic terrorist stems from a shootout with police that took place on May 2, 1973. The shootout resulted in the deaths of a New Jersey state trooper and one of Shakur’s companions, Zayd Malik Shakur.
But according to the National Lawyers Guild  (NLG), Assata Shakur had been pursued by state and federal authorities for several years before the incident in New Jersey because of her political affiliations and because she was a woman. “Prior to the shootout, Ms. Shakur was the subject of a nationwide hunt as part of an FBI campaign to tie her to every suspected Black Liberation Army action involving a woman. After her capture, Ms. Shakur was not charged with any of the crimes that prompted the dragnet,” the NLG states.
Assata Shakur, Zayd Malik Shakur and Sundiata Acoli were driving near East Brunswick when they were stopped by two New Jersey troopers for having a broken tail light. It is at this point that accounts of the incident diverge. According to theFBI , Assata Shakur murdered trooper Werner Foerster “execution-style,” in “cold-blood.” In the morass of conflicting accounts about the shootout, these facts are known for certain: Zayd Malik Shakur was killed, trooper Foerster was shot twice in the head with his own gun, and Assata Shakur sustained severe wounds in both her arms and one shoulder.
For Assata, it is too late to be proven innocent; she has already been wrongfully convicted. But if in the course of these new escalations we can clearly see the process by which language is being used to revise history and to manufacture terrorist threats, then maybe we can see our current moment for what it is: a time when actual threats to public safety are ignored, but a 66-year-old grandmother is considered a high-level threat.