NAPO Washington Reports

NAPO Urges Democratic Presidential Candidates to Disavow Chesimard

April 2, 2019

At the We the People Summit on April 1, 2019, Jamal Watkins, the Vice President of Civic Engagement at the NAACP, invoked Assata Shakur, otherwise known as Joanne Chesimard - a murder and convicted cop-killer, as a leader for change.  In attendance at the Summit were eight of the Democratic candidates for president: Senators Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, and Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor Jay Inslee, Beto O'Rourke, and Julián Castro. While we do not directly link them to supporting Mr. Watkins' invocation of Chesimard, NAPO wrote to each candidate urging them to condemn Chesimard and everything for which she stands.

Joanne Chesimard is the only woman on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list for her role in the cold-blooded killing of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. The fact that she is being raised as champion to follow is an affront to the men and women who have dedicated their lives to protecting our communities as law enforcement officers – above all to the family and friends of police officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice.

Our nation’s law enforcement community counts on national leaders, as these candidates hope to be, to stand up for and support the men and women who risk their lives every day to ensure our neighborhoods and communities are safe.  They cannot do so unless they repudiate everything for which Joanne Chesimard stands. There is no way to delink Chesimard from the role she played in the execution-style killing of State Trooper Foerster or the fact that she is now a wanted fugitive living free in Cuba while no justice has been brought to Trooper Foerster’s family for his murder.

The We the People Program is supposed to promote civic competence and responsibility. It is unacceptable to teach students – the future of our country – that violence and killing a law enforcement officer is a responsible way to affect change. These candidates must condemn the invocation of Joanne Chesimard and what she represents.

You can view NAPO's letter to each candidate below.

NAPO's Letter to Senator Booker

NAPO's Letter to Senator Sanders

NAPO's Letter to Senator Warren

NAPO's Letter to Senator Klobuchar

NAPO's Letter to Senator Gillibrand

NAPO's Letter to Governor Inslee

NAPO's Letter to Beto O'Rourke

NAPO's Letter to Julián Castro