Common Controversy Comes to White House Poetry Night; Cops, Conservatives Cry Foul at Some of His Past Work (UPDATED)

May 11, 2011 11:42 AM

New Jersey State Trooper Dave Jones could hardly believe it.

An official from the White House had called him to find out more about his objections to the participation of the hip hop artist “Common” in White House poetry night, and the official had never heard of Joanne Chesimard. 

Common celebrated Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, in his song “A Song for Assata,”  one of a handful of works that have this week been criticized with his invitation to the White House. Common is a fairly mainstream hip hop artist, but he has voiced opinions that members of law enforcement and others find offensive.

Jones, a 33-year veteran and president of the New Jersey State Troopers Fraternal Association, explained to the White House official – whom he wouldn’t name – who Joanne Chesmard is.

“She’s a domestic terrorist who wrapped her criminality and her abhorrent anti social behavior in a cause to try to disguise her disgust for America in this make believe 1960s radicalism,” Jones told ABC News Wednesday morning. “In 1973 she executed Trooper Werner Foerster with his own gun after he was already shot and didn’t represent a threat to anyone. And after she shot him she kicked him in the head to the point that hours later after he was picked up his brain was still part of the remnants on her shoe.”

Common has a different take: “Assata had been convicted of a murder she couldna done,” Common rapped. “Medical evidence shown she couldna shot the gun….I wonder what would happen if that woulda been me/All of this sh*t so we could be free./Yeah, I often wonder what would happen if that woulda been me? /All of this sh*t so we could be free, so dig it, people.”

The song also features Cee-Lo singing “I’m thinkin’ of Assata, yeah./Listen to my love, Assata, yeah./Your power and pride, so beautiful… /May God bless your soul.”

Chesimard was a member of the Black Liberation Army who was wanted for her involvement in felonies including bank robbery. On May 2, 1973, Chesimard was stopped for a motor vehicle violation on the New Jersey Turnpike by two State Troopers; according to the FBI,  she and her two accomplices opened fire on the State Troopers, wounding one and killing the other.

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