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Berkeley Students Want Building Renamed After Former Black Panther, Cop-Killer

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Berkeley Students Want Building Renamed After Former Black Panther, Cop-Killer

A black student organization at University of California at Berkeley is demanding the school rename a building on campus after a former Black Panther and convicted cop killer. The students want Burrows Hall renamed for Assata Shakur, the first woman to appear on the FBI’s most wanted list.

A jury convicted Shakur of killing a New Jersey State Trooper in 1979. She escaped prison and fled to Cuba. The FBI calls her a domestic terrorist. In 2013, the agency added her to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist List, alongside several members of Al Qaeda, airline hijackers and bombers.

However, the Berkeley students see Shakur a little differently.

But to the Black Student Union at Berkeley, Shakur is an “icon of resistance within oppressed communities (who) represents black resilience in the face of state-sanctioned violence.” They demanded the university rename Barrows Hall, named after former Chancellor David Barrows, “Shakur Hall.” In 2013, Shakur declared her innocence and called her trial in 1979 a legal lynching by an all-white jury. Shakur, formerly known as Joann Chesimard, belonged to the Black Liberation Army at the time of the shooting.

“We want the renaming for someone — Assata Shakur — who we feel like represents us as black students,” said Black Student Union spokesman Cori McGowens. “Black students on campus have a feeling of isolation, marginalization. We’re at a crisis on campus.”

The students also made some other demands of Berkeley.

They’re also demanding a meeting place solely for black students, $300,371 for two black admissions staff focused on black recruiting, $113,932 for another staffer to handle black retention, two black psychologists who understand the “racially hostile campus,” two black advisers to mentor black athletes and a fully-funded ‘Get into Graduate School’ mentoring program.

But according to Fox News, “African-American students at Berkeley already have 33 campus organizations dedicated to their well-being, from fraternities and sororities, to a African Theme Program, an African American Studies Department, an African Arts Society, a Black Campus Ministries, Finance Guild and  Pre-Law Society.”

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