Five Palo Alto, CA, police officers are suing the city claiming harassment and discrimination for being “forced” to walk past a street mural last summer depicting 1970s Black Liberation Army member and fugitive convicted cop killer Assata Shakur.
The civil complaint against the city — filed in Santa Clara County Superior Court by Palo Alto police officers Eric Figueroa, Michael Foley, Christopher Moore, Robert Parham and Julie Tannock — claims the officers were “forced to physically pass and confront the mural every time they entered the Palo Alto Police department,” calling it “offensive, discriminatory and harassing iconography” that fostered a “hostile” and “retaliatory” work environment.
The nearly 245-foot-long, 17-foot-tall Black Lives Matter mural in question was commissioned by the city in June 2020 to commemorate the ongoing protests against the in-custody death of George Floyd. The mural, which was painted on the street in front of city Hall, features several images inside each letter of the phrase “Black Lives Matter” including a quote from Shakur within the letter “E” of the word Matter and a re-creation of the cover portrait from her autobiography, the Mercury News reports.
Shakur was the first woman ever placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list after fatally shooting New Jersey State Police Trooper Werner Foerster on May 2, 1973, following a traffic stop involving her and two other members of the BLA, according to the FBI.
Police said Shakur shot the officers — killing Foerster and wounding the other — and got away. She was later caught, tried and convicted of first-degree murder, assault and battery of a police officer, along with other related felony counts and armed robbery. She escaped from prison in a breakout orchestrated by BLA members and fled to Cuba, where she remains.