- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 4, 2018

Colin Kaepernick said Friday he has raised $20,000 for Assata’s Daughters, named after convicted cop-killer Assata Shakur, through matching donations from his celebrity friends as part of his Million Dollar Pledge.

The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback announced that comedian Hannibal Buress and actress Yara Shahidi would both donate $10,000 to Assata’s Daughters, which says it “carries on the tradition of radical liberatory activism encompassed by Assata Shakur.”

The pledges were linked to a previous donation made by Mr. Kaepernick, who announced in April he would give $25,000 to the Chicago-based group as part of his campaign to give $1 million to organizations “working in oppressed communities.”

Ms. Shahidi, star of the ABC-TV comedy “Black-ish” and the spin-off “Grown-ish,” thanked Mr. Kaepernick for giving her the idea.

“I decided to donate to Assata’s Daughters, which is an amazing organization based out of Chicago,” said Ms. Shahidi in a video posted on Mr. Kaepernick’s Twitter feed. “And I just have to say thank you to Colin for such an amazing idea, but also in engaging all of us and helping to contribute to our world.”

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The Colin Kaepernick Foundation has made donations to more than 30 organizations from community associations like Lower East Side Girls Club to left-wing advocacy groups like the Advancement Project, but none has been more controversial than Assata’s Daughters.

A “direct action” advocacy group, Assata’s Daughters drew its name from Assata Shakur, formerly Joanne Chesimard, a Black Liberation Army member convicted in the 1977 shooting death of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster.

After escaping from prison in 1979, she fled to Cuba and was granted asylum. The FBI has placed her on its “most wanted terrorists” list.

Trooper Foerster was killed in a shootout with three BLA activists on the New Jersey Turnpike that resulted in the death of BLA actvist Zayd Shakur and bullet wounds to Assata Shakur and state trooper James Harper.

A third activist, Sundiata Acoli, was found guilty of firing the shots that killed the officer, while Assata Shakur was convicted as an accomplice. Both were found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Shakur, who has argued that the jury was racist and that her trial was unfair, has since become a popular figure on the left and at universities, where her autobiography has been assigned on course reading lists.

The Officer Down Memorial Page described the Black Liberation Army as “a violent, radical group that attempted to fight for independence from the United States government in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.”

“The BLA was responsible for the murders of more than 10 police officers around the country,” said the ODMP website. “They were also responsible for violent attacks around the country that left many police officers wounded.”

Assata’s Daughters, which identifies itself as an arm of Black Lives Matter, has called for shutting down police departments and prisons.

“In our direct action organizing, we bring Chicagoans together to address the many injustices in our city and the world,” said the group on its website. “We organize for abolition: of the police, prisons, and all other forms of anti-blackness. Collectively, we work to build up alternative institutions and the means for self-determination.”

Mr. Kaepernick wrapped up his Million Dollar Pledge last week after announcing he would donate a final $100,000 in $10,000 increments to 10 different organizations, all of which were matched by celebrity friends and supporters, including Snoop Dogg, Chris Brown, Nick Cannon, Meek Mill and Usher.

Other stars, including Sean “Diddy” Combs, Dr. Dre and DJ Khaled, said they would contribute to various organizations that Mr. Kaepernick had backed previously during the campaign.

A free agent, Mr. Kaepernick was the face of the 2016 NFL take-a-knee protests, but has yet to sign with a team after opting out of his 49ers contract in March 2017. He has filed a grievance with the NFL alleging that team owners have colluded against him.

“I started my #MillionDollarPledge to help organizations on the ground doing work in our communities,” said Mr. Kaepernick in a Jan. 31 post. “It was never for or about me - it has & always will be for the people.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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