Chicago-Based Black Radical Organization's Building Bulldozed by the City
|thenorthstar||Jul 20, 2019|
The city of Chicago demolished the headquarters of the grassroots radical Black organization called Assata’s Daughters.
Assata’s Daughters revealed that the last standing wall of their “HomeQuarters” was bulldozed by the city of Chicago on July 16, Assata Shakur’s birthday. The organization said the building was targeted by an attempted arson and was later seized by the city government.
“This has been such a difficult statement for us to write, and honestly we are still processing everything,” Assata’s Daughters wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. “We want you to know that someone tried to burn down our building. We want you to know that the city seized the property and bulldozed it this week.
We want you to know that our HomeQuarters is gone.” “We want you to know we grabbed all the books, but we couldn’t save the murals,” the statement continued. “We want you to know that we did everything we could, but we lost our home and it hurts.” The group said members managed to salvage bricks from the building and paint them with words, memories, and people of Assata’s “we want to carry with us.”
The group’s headquarters served as a place for members to meet, learn, play, and grow. “It was a healing space. It was a neighborhood space. This was a place where we felt safe, and for many of us it was one of the few,” they wrote. “We met new people and new neighbors, made memories, and built community together.”
Assata’s Daughters criticized the city for the speed in which it demolished their home. The organization is struggling to find alternative accomodations in Washington Park because the neighborhood has “been thoroughly underdeveloped and underresourced — very much on purpose — for the Black people historically and currently living here.” Despite the difficulties, Assata’s Daughters expressed a desire to stay in Chicago’s Washington Park neighborhood. “We want you to know that we want to stay, that we will fight the forces displacing us, and we will rebuild,” the group said. “We are gonna come up from this stronger than ever. Because we know that what we have built is bigger than any building can contain or any city official can demolish.”
The city of Chicago did not immediately respond to The North Star’s request for comment. Assata’s Daughter made headlines in 2017 after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick donated $25,000 to the group. Kaepernick revealed the gift on his website as part of a pledge to donate $1 million to “organization working in oppressed communities” from his jersey sales. The money was slated to support a garden, library, Cop Watch program, and a workshop for 50 local teens, Mother Jones reported. Conservative publications criticized Kaepernick’s donation, including the Washington Times and Breitbart. The piece on Breitbart claimed “the NFL is intensifying protests begun by someone who thinks donating to groups named after cop-killers is a good thing.”
Assata’s Daughtersis named after Assata Shakur, a former Black Panther and Black Liberation Army (BLA) member. Shakur, whose original name is Joanne Chesimard, was convicted of fatally shooting New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster after he pulled her and two other BLA members over on the New Jersey Turnpike in May 1973. Shakur maintained her innocence and managed to escape from prison in 1979. She fled to Cuba and was granted asylum by Fidel Castro. She still lives there today. The civil rights activist was placed on the FBI’s list of Most Wanted Terrorists, According to ABC News, there is a $2 million reward for any information that leads to the capture of the 71-year-old exile.
However, it is unlikely that Cuba will extradite Shakur to the US. The two countries do not have an extradition treaty. After President Barack Obama reestablished diplomatic relations with Cuba in 2015, the communist country helped the FBI capture John Ray III, who was accused of killing his girlfriend.
Relations between Cuba and the US have soured since President Donald Trump took office. Earlier in 2019, Trump demanded Cuba return “fugitives from American justice.”
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.