At least 60 faculty and staff members at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, have signed a petition demanding that the Catholic college keep a mural of a cop killer and an FBI designated terrorist on a wall in the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center.
Assata Shakur, formerly known as Joanne Chesimard, is a former Black Panther and member of the Black Liberation Army. Shakur is also the aunt of deceased rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur, who was shot multiple times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, in 1996.
She escaped a U.S. prison and fled to Cuba after shooting and killing New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster execution style with his own gun during a traffic stop in 1973. As Foerster lay on the ground wounded, she picked up his gun and shot him twice in the head.
Shakur was found guilty of first-degree murder, assault and battery of a police officer, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with intent to kill, illegal possession of a weapon and armed robbery. She was sentenced to life in prison, but on Nov. 2, 1979, she escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey with the help of three armed men with the Black Liberation Army who drove her away in a stolen prison van.
Shakur has been on the run from U.S. authorities for more than 35 years and is said to be living in Cuba, where she was given political asylum.
Cuba has refused to even discuss extraditing her. In 2013, Shakur became the only woman on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Terrorists List. The FBI is offering a $1 million reward for information leading to her arrest.
When news of the mural went public in May, university officials called for its removal and it was taken down by May 17. Shortly thereafter, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center Director Susannah Bartlow was apparently fired from the university. Meanwhile, professor McAdams, who criticized the mural in his blog post, was suspended by the university and says he’s facing termination.
But now the Catholic university’s 60 faculty and staff members have signed the following letter to the University Leadership Council protesting removal of the mural: