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Al Sharpton Accused of Helping Lead FBI to Assata Shakur

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Al Sharpton Accused of Helping Lead FBI to Assata Shakur

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The Rev. and the Fugitive Sharpton tried to set up Chesimard, activists say
By Ron Howell, Newsday, Friday 21 October 1988

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has worked as a federal informant, tried to set up a meeting with black fugitive radical JoAnne Chesimard in 1983, according to activists who said they were approached by Sharpton.

The black activists said they feared Sharpton was trying to deliver Chesimard into the arms of federal agents, but said they had no proof.

One law-enforcement source, who declined to be identified but has detailed knowledge of Sharpton’s activities as an FBI informant, said this week that Sharpton was working as an informant at the time he sought to meet Chesimard. The source said that one of Sharpton’s assignments was to try to lead agents to Chesimard, who escaped from prison in 1979 after being convicted in the killing a New Jersey state trooper.

“It wasn’t a big massive operation. It was just a small shot, an everyday deal,” the source said. “I would equate it with setting up 10 traps a day trying to catch a fox . . .” He said Sharpton was not a major participant in the search for the woman, who goes by the African name Assata Shakur.

A top FBI official said that Sharpton was not used in any manner to lure Shakur into a trap. “This is the first I’m hearing of it, it’s bull———,” FBI Assistant Deputy Director Kenneth Walton, who led the Shakur investigation, said earlier this week.

Sharpton flatly denied trying to make contact with Shakur.

Newsday reported in January that beginning in 1983 Sharpton secretly supplied federal law enforcement agencies with information on boxing promoter Don King, reputed organized crime figures and black leaders and elected officials. And in a two-hour interview, Sharpton admitted to Newsday that he had assisted the government in drug and organized crime cases. He said he also accompanied undercover federal agents wearing body recorders to meetings with various subjects of federal investigations. He said he had allowed the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York to install a tapped telephone in his Brooklyn home.

Sharpton has insisted he never turned over information on black radicals or on King.

This week, Sharpton denied assertions by Ahmed Obafemi, a long-time activist, and Kwame Brathwaite, an activist and photographer who says Sharpton asked him to set up an encounter with Obafemi. Both men say that Obafemi acted as the intermediary in the failed discussions with Sharpton to reach Shakur.

Sharpton called the men “liars” and said they were possibly “police agents.” He charged they are part of “an element in the black community that has lost out . . . and that will fabricate any story out of jealousy because they have no following . . . ”

Obafemi, the national organizer for the New Afrikan People’s Organization, said Sharpton met with him in Manhattan at least four times in 1983, over a period of about two months. He said that Sharpton offered to donate money to help black revolutionaries running from the law and that Sharpton was particularly interested in setting up a meeting with Shakur, once referred to as the “soul” of the Black Liberation Army.

Sharpton told Obafemi he was representing two former Black Panthers, who wanted to see Shakur, according to Obafemi.

The ex-Panthers were supposedly trying to make useful contacts in case they had to flee the country someday, Obafemi said he was told.

“The first discussion was that they were close to her, that they had been in the [Black Panther] party with her and that they wanted to talk to her,” Obafemi said. “I wanted to find out who they were, but he said they really didn’t want to be known.”

Shakur was once a member of the Black Panther Party, but went underground around 1971 because she said she believed the group was being infiltrated by city and federal law enforcement officers.

The 1983 deal fell through at a final meeting when Sharpton insisted that money would be donated only if the two former Panthers could meet Shakur. Failing that, Obafemi said, Sharpton was interested in making any kind of “contact” with her or with any of her close associates also on the run from the law. “Naturally, I never got back” to him, said Obafemi, whose organization believes that blacks should have their own country within the United States and that they have the right to fight for it.

“Obviously we had to feel that a definite possibility existed he was working for the government, and we would have felt that way about him or anybody else who approached us in that manner,” said Chokwe Lumumba, an attorney and chairman of the New Afrikan People’s Organization.

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Lumumba had been informed in 1983 by Obafemi about Sharpton’s proposal. The attorney said his organization was more interested in getting information about Sharpton’s motives than in receiving money from him. “I can’t say that we were able to make any definite conclusions” about whether Sharpton was acting as an agent for the government, Lumumba said.

Both Lumumba and Obafemi denied knowing where Shakur was at the time.

Sharpton’s first broached his interest in Shakur during a chance encounter with Brathwaite, a black nationalist, Brathwaite said. Brathwaite said he happened to run into Sharpton one day in midtown but he could not remember the month. Already acquainted with each other from entertainment circles, the two men started talking and Sharpton “said he wanted to make a donation to Assata,” Brathwaite said.

A day or two later, Brathwaite told Obafemi of the offer. “I told him to watch out,” said Brathwaite. “I knew that authorities were trying to find out where she [Assata Shakur] was and that they were trying to get close to somebody who was close to her . . . And then I just knew that he’s always been a hustler.”

Last year, Newsday disclosed that Shakur was given political asylum in Cuba and was living there with her daughter, now 14 years old. She is probably the most sought-after of the 1970s radicals linked to bank robberies and police killings over a 10-year span.

The specific amount of the contribution Sharpton said he was prepared to make in 1983 on behalf of the ex-Panthers was not discussed, Obafemi said; but Sharpton said the prospective contributors gained the money by “ripping off the system,” Obafemi recalled.

He said that at least two of the meetings occurred in a luxurious apartment at 30 Lincoln Plaza, near Lincoln Center. That was the building where, according to a law enforcement source and a report published in the Feb. 2, 1988 edition of The Village Voice, a federal agent using the name Victor Quintana set up an apartment in 1983 or earlier to lure boxing world denizens suspected of illegal activity. Quintana in that year ensnared Sharpton into working for the FBI, New York Newsday reported in January.

The Village Voice article reported that apartment was on the 29th floor, but Obafemi could not recall the floor on which he had his rendezvous with Sharpton. Sharpton lives in Brooklyn and Obafemi said he did not explain why Sharpton had access to the apartment. “He made me think it was his,” said Obafemi. “I was saying (to myself), ’What kind of money must they have to have a spot in here.’ He had the keys and everything.”

Sharpton denied this week ever being in the building.

Obafemi said that up until 1983 he knew Sharpton only as the head of a youth organization, the National Youth Movement, and as someone with vague connections in the entertainment world.

Obafemi is the ex-husband of Nehanda Obafemi, once known as Cheri Laverne Dalton, who is still wanted by the federal government in connection with the notorious Brink’s robbery which took place seven years ago yesterday. She is allegedly connected to the group of black and white revolutionaries convicted in the Brink’s heist. A guard and two police officers were killed in that incident, which took place upstate near Nyack.

In 1983, Obafemi was busy trying to gain support in the black community for the people arrested in the Brink’s case. In October of that year, several blacks and whites were convicted in that robbery and in the highly planned breakout of Shakur from prison in 1979.

The law enforcement source implicating Sharpton in the hunt for Assata Shakur said that Sharpton was also, secondarily, trying to help agents get other fugitives, especially Mutulu Shakur, who was still on the run at that time. Mutulu Shakur, no relation to Assata, was later apprehended and convicted in connection with the Brink’s robbery and the escape of Assata Shakur.

Robert E. Kessler contributed to this story.

[***The following appeared in the City version***Brathwaite is the brother of Elombe Brath, an official of a black nationalist organization called the Patrice Lumumba Coalition. Brath and several associates have been opposed to Sharpton because of his FBI ties. ]
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  1. Thelma Wiliams

    May 5, 2019 at 3:29 am

    Not that I don’t like the flamboyant and out spoken Al Sharpton but he is known in some circles as Al Charlatan.This is old news and par for the course in the I spy for the FBI circle.The full truth may never be known but I have learned not to be so judgmental without knowing all the facts.We have many people that have never heard of Assata Shakur until the placing of her name on the FBI terrorist list.After all she is not a rapper, reality show personality, or is in the news parading around half naked. Therefore I am not surprised that they have not heard of her.To Ms. Shakur’s credit she can express herself well in written and verbal form which also dates her to a time gone by.May she remain safe in Cuba.

  2. For-The-Masses

    May 5, 2019 at 10:07 am

    Folks keep saying old news, but many folks who were born in the early 80’s didn’t know this, so let them come to their own conclusions. Furthermore, this news had to be hatched since the sister was recently placed in the top 10 FBI list. I

  3. KEVIN

    May 5, 2019 at 10:39 am

    The Rev. Al Sharpton, who has worked as a federal informant,

  4. nancy hill

    May 5, 2019 at 10:45 am

    Timing is everything.Sharpton is on MSNBC hitting hard for civil rights, voter rights, women’s rights, labor rights, gay rights, gun control rights. etc. I believe the powerful NRA, ALEC, Koch Bros, Tea Party have floated money to these accusers, to try to damage Sharptons image, and therefore his platform. All other racial demographics know Black people are like crabs in a barrel and suffer from the slave mentality. Rev Al keep up the good work, We, the people, need your voice for the voiceless. You critcs go somewhere and sit down, you are the real enemy, you stand for nothing so you fall for any and everything.

    • david jones

      May 6, 2019 at 8:46 am

      the only person trying to damage Sharpton’s image is Boyce Watkins….and it’s not out of love for black people…it’s jealousy, hate and money.

  5. Chinue X

    May 5, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Why is this being shared today?

  6. BLU

    May 5, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    It’s just like the devil to bring up a person past. the things he use to do he don’t do anymore. He who is without sin cast the 1st stone. Where were any of you accusers and judges while REV. Al was marching, peaching, pleding cases for the black community that is being treated unfairly by the powers that be? there are current articles about the good the Rev. does why don’t you post on them. I took this quote from the previous post because it is on point” SOME Black people are like crabs in a barrel and suffer from the slave mentality. Rev Al keep up the good work, We, the people, need your voice for the voiceless. You critcs go somewhere and sit down, you are the real enemy, you stand for nothing so you fall for any and everything”.

  7. Benny Blaze

    May 5, 2019 at 12:44 pm

    Ignorant is a bliss!!!

  8. Sedonna

    May 5, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    I agree with Ms. Nancy Hill. Upon reading this article, per sentence, my thoughts filled with what Ms. Hill has expressed.
    Also… I participated in the Trayvon Martin rallies in Sanford FL. last spring with my 15yr old son. “In my opinion”, there would NOT have been an arrest of george killerman, had it NOT been for the camera’s following, “AL Sharpton”, Judge Greg Mathis, Pastor Jamal Bryant, Attorney’s Parks, Crump, the Unity of other leaders, student’s and citizens worldwide showing the world the continued injustices inflicted upon OUR youth in amerika.
    So let’s ALL be a part of the solution.

  9. Keedah

    May 5, 2019 at 4:20 pm

    It’s no big conspiracy against sharpton. He admitted it himself and he knows who some of the other ones were. MANY years ago that word was out. Every time I hear his grovely mash potatoed voice I think of it. Well part of it anyway.

  10. makheru bradley

    May 5, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    Whether this is true or not it should not distract us from the larger issues surrounding the current demonization of Assata Shakur: (1)the FBI’s War on the Black Liberation Movement (2) the exploitation of Patriot Act paranoia (3) the escalation of the assault on civil liberties and the expansion of US imperialist objectives by the Obama Administration.

    • Mother-Nature

      May 6, 2019 at 11:38 am

      My only questions are the same questions that ASSATA SHAKUR was asking when she was accused…. WHERE ARE THE FACTS?

      She recently released this open letter…. explaining that she was never a criminal and how the FBI, COINTELPRO and others falsely accused her…

      We should all be leary of “rumors” and inuendo about any of our Black leaders…like Rev. Al Sharpton…or anybody like that. Some folks thrive on spreading tales, gossip, and fabricated stories for whatever reasons. We know that even DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. was falsely accused of all sorts of ‘evil acts’ by the same White folks who have attacked our other Black leaders.

      There are some forces who have always been against the progress of Black people…and their FREEDOM.

  11. Morpheus

    May 6, 2019 at 1:35 am

    Sharpton work for the FBI is old news.And yes I believe he was acting as an informant trying set her up.No coincidence Sharpton/Jesse Jackson have had long ties to gov’t intelligence communties. Do you think a so called radical would be given a nat’l syndicated show on cable tv?

  12. Counter View

    May 6, 2019 at 6:41 am

    Niggers need to STOP LYING on/Against Al Sharpton and other Black folks, just because your Massa paid you for having a Mouth and No brain. And those Fools who are Trained to ‘believe Bullshit with No Proof’. Just Shut Up!

  13. Mother-Nature

    May 6, 2019 at 3:11 pm


    During those days of the Civil Rights & Black Power Movements…there were a lot of WHITE FOLKS who were trying to put a stop to it all. Gov. G. Wallace stood in the doorway to keep from integrated that college…but there were others who were worse….

    RUSH LIMBAUGH was broadcasting his venom against this movement and many of the Black activists.

    RON PAUL published a very slanderous, foul NEWSLETTER for years in which the writers denounced, demeaned and slandered most of the major Civil Rights leaders…including Dr. King, Ralph Abernathy, Barbara Jordan, and others.

    You may have heard this news:
    “Most Wanted Terrorist List” — without any good reason.

    Oh….and by the way… SHE IS BLACK and living in exile in Cuba. Assata Shakur is a relative of Tupac Shakur. Although she was involved in the Civil Rights Movement many years ago…she is not now and has not been a “terrorist.” She did not set off any bombs like those White Russian boys. Nothing that they claim she did…fits the definition of “terrorist.”

    Watch this video of an interview with her attorney and Angela Davis about her situation for the facts….

    You can also find info about RON PAUL’s ugly, racist newsletter on YOUTUBE.

    What facts are there that show that Rev. Al. Sharpton did anything at all against Assata Shakur? He denies it.

    WHY NOT DENOUNCE the actions of the FBI…and those who are trying to claim that this woman is a “terrorist”….all these years later, when she has not committed any acts of “terrorism.”

  14. righteous

    May 7, 2019 at 10:40 am

    I always could tell something was phony about this guy that slick back perm on his head, all he’s missing is a chalice and a cain, a couple of gold teeth and he’s pimpin away baby. Smdh

  15. Rasheed7

    May 8, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    I wouldnt be surprised if it is true…

  16. Obed Norman

    August 9, 2019 at 11:06 pm

    You make a serious accusation on the basis of unconfirmed and vague allegations. Your article is as cartoonish as the accompanying caricature of Sharpton. You are becoming more like FOX daily. Here are some facts for you to chew on. The FBI wanted to harm Shakur and Malcolm. Whatever Sharpton did or did not do, Shakur is alive in Cuba today. Can it be that Sharpton put the FBI on a false trail and is partly responsible for Shakur being alive today? Malcolm was not that lucky. Black hands pulled the trigger and effectively cooperated with the FBI purpose of eliminating Malcolm. Think about that before you level unsubstantiated outdated allegations against Al Sharpton.

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