JetBlue has apologized for using a poster of Assata Shakur, an activist who was convicted of killing a police officer, as part of a Black History Month tribute at New York’s JFK International airport.
The airline said it had removed the poster from the JetBlue terminal after being alerted, via Twitter, to Shakur’s conviction for killing Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster.
The poster noted some of Shakur’s accomplishments including becoming “the first woman to be placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted list after escaping to Cuba from prison where she was serving a life sentence for the 1973 murder of a police officer.”
We removed the poster today as soon as we learned of the concern. Our crewmembers created the display intending to celebrate Black History Month by highlighting prominent individuals. We apologize for any offense it may have caused.
— JetBlue Airways (@JetBlue) February 22, 2019
The poster also claimed that: “Many people believe Shakur to be a political champion who is innocent of the criminal accusation against her.”
JetBlue said in a statement that the poster was part of a “ready-made batch of posters” that were purchased by the airline from a third party.
“The intention was always to unite our crewmembers and customers around the importance of Black History Month and we apologize for any offense the poster may have caused,” a JetBlue spokesman said in a statement.
Shakur, who was also known as Joanne Chesimard, was a prominent member of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Army.
In 1973, she was involved in a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike that resulted in Foerster’s death. She was convicted in 1977 and sentenced to life in prison following three trials that presented disputing evidence about her role in the gun battle given her wounded hands.
Shakur escaped from prison two years later and the 71-year-old now lives in Cuba where she was granted asylum on the grounds of being persecuted by the US for political activism.
In 2017, President Trump demanded that Cuba return “the cop-killer Joanne Chesimard” and promised to reverse Obama-era policies regarding Cuba relations.
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