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Why New Jersey’s Most Wanted Fugitive Cop Killer Can’t Be Brought to Justice

Throughout history, there have been enigmatic figures whose actions and decisions continue to captivate the public’s imagination long after their time. One such intriguing persona is JoAnne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur.

Born on July 16, 1947, in Queens, New York, JoAnne Chesimard became a prominent figure in the Black Liberation Army (BLA), a radical militant organization active during the 1970s.

The BLA, an offshoot of the Black Panther Party, advocated for racial justice but resorted to violence to achieve its goals. Chesimard was accused of committing various crimes, including bank robberies and the fatal shooting of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster during a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike in 1973.

In 1977, she was convicted of Trooper Foerster’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. However, her story took a dramatic turn on November 2, 1979, when armed militants, including members of the BLA, orchestrated a daring armed assault on the Clinton Correctional Facility in New Jersey. During this audacious act, Chesimard was freed by her comrades, making a dramatic escape.

Following her escape, Chesimard reportedly found refuge in Cuba, where she sought and was granted political asylum by the Cuban government. Since then, she has remained one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, with a reward of up to $1 million for information leading to her capture.

As of my last update in September 2021, JoAnne Chesimard’s exact location remains a subject of speculation and intrigue. Her political asylum in Cuba has complicated efforts to apprehend her since Cuba lacks an extradition agreement with the United States. Despite occasional rumors and sightings over the years, none have resulted in her capture.

JoAnne Chesimard’s case remains a contentious and divisive topic. Some view her as a symbol of resistance against perceived injustices and systemic racism during a tumultuous period in American history. Supporters argue that her actions were driven by a genuine desire to challenge oppression and advocate for the rights of African Americans.

On the other hand, others consider her a convicted felon responsible for the death of a law enforcement officer and see her escape to Cuba as an evasion of justice. The tragic loss of Trooper Werner Foerster’s life has left a lasting impact on his family and the law enforcement community.

As the years pass and international relations between the United States and Cuba continue to evolve, the future of JoAnne Chesimard remains uncertain. While she remains on the FBI’s most-wanted list, her current whereabouts reside somewhere in Cuba, under political asylum.

The saga of JoAnne Chesimard will undoubtedly continue to captivate and stir debate among the public. Whether she remains a fugitive or eventually faces justice for her alleged crimes is yet to be determined. Until then, her story remains an intriguing and contentious part of American history.

Paul joined the Manchester Evening News in 2004 and Tosbos in 2022. A senior reporter, he's experienced in crime and court reporting - and also holds the defense portfolio.


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