Dear Editor,

After the recent positive news of normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, some New Jersey officials have brought up the potential future extradition of former Black Panther Activist Assata Shakur (born Joanne Cheismard) from Cuba.

There is substantial evidence supporting Shakur's claims of innocence in the 1970s murder of a New Jersey State Trooper for which she was convicted and demonstrating a biased, unfair trial.

Prior to this incident, Shakur had previously been falsely arrested and later acquitted on numerous occasions for various charges. Shakur had been framed by the FBI as part of COINTELPRO, a covert program that was designed to undermine activist organizations.

In the 1990s, the New Jersey State Police was found by the Department of Justice to have engaged in racial profiling and misconduct against minorities.

The accusations and credibility of the state in this matter must be viewed within the framework of the government's misconduct that took place during the civil rights era.

Assata Shakur is an innocent freedom fighter who was framed by a racist government and if she ever returns to New Jersey it should not be as a prisoner, but as a committed civil rights activist who was wronged by the state.

A pardon of Assata Shakur would enable our state to heal one of the last living wounds of our nation's civil rights movement.

Eric Hafner
Toms River