top of page


US Rep. Jamaal Bowman once put a fugitive convicted cop killer on a Bronx middle school’s “Wall of Honor” while he worked there as principal — and now he’s standing by the move.

The Democrat member of Congress’ “Squad” was recently questioned about honoring Joanne Chesimard aka Assata Shakur — a black militant on the FBI Most Wanted list who was convicted with two others in the execution-style slaying of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973 before she escaped jail and fled to Cuba.

“Who are you to tell anyone on how they should engage in their own history and the people in their history?” Bowman said at a Feb. 21 Yonkers Third Precinct Community Council meeting.

Bowman was responding to a question from Marty Dolan, one of two Democrats challenging the two-term incumbent in a party primary this year, who asked the congressman whether he thought it was a mistake “to teach the children in your school that a cop killer should be on ‘The Wall of Heroes'” at the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action.

“My school included black and Latino students,” Bowman, who is black, railed to Dolan, who is white. “We tried to teach as much of our black and Latino history as possible — the good, the bad and the ugly.”

Bowman, who represents part of the Bronx and Westchester County in New York’s 16th congressional district, noted that Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the US and a co-signer of the Declaration of Independence, was a slaveholder.

When Dolan asked if Bowman refused to denounce the inclusion, the incumbent doubled down.

“I will refuse to denounce,” Bowman said. “I’m answering the question the way I want to answer it. We, our kids in my school learned the history of a people off the walls — and many other people and so, that’s what we did. Period.”

Part of the extremist group the Black Liberation Army, Chesimard was one of three people accused in a May 2, 1973 shooting that broke out when they were stopped in their vehicle for a motor vehicle violation on the Jersey Turnpike. A second trooper was also wounded in the shooting. 

At the time, Chesimard was wanted for her role in several other felonies, including a bank robbery.

Chesimard, was found guilty of first degree murder, but escaped from a Clinton, New Jersey prison on Nov. 2, 1979 and resurfaced in Cuba, where she is still believed to be residing.

She is on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, which is offering a $1 million reward for her return.

After Bowman’s fiery defense of Shakur at the hearing, a woman then followed up Dolan’s question. “What did [Assata Shakur] accomplish that would put her in the same realm as Thomas Jefferson?”

Bowman noted that Chesimard was a member of the Black Panther Party, which he said did some good things.

“You can have critiques of this person but there are critiques of many American heroes that we have,” the congressman said.

Dolan, 66, a financial strategic adviser, on Sunday blasted Bowman’s defense of “using taxpayer dollars to teach our kids to glorify a cop killer.”

Aside from Dolan, Bowman faces a spirited primary challenge from Westchester County Executive George Latimer, who has the backing of Jewish activists including the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, who denounce what they view as Bowman’s anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian positions.

Chesimard isn’t the only controversial figure who was included in Bowman’s schools’ Hall of Honor.

Black militant Mutulu Shakur — the stepfather of the late rapper Tupac Shakur — who served a lengthy prison sentence for armed robberies and died last July year of cancer after being released — was also honored, as was former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), an antisemitic conspiracy theorist, according to the Huffington Post, which first reported on the wall.

The Wall of Honor is just the latest controversy from the past dogging Bowman.

He also recently came under fire for reposting outlandish Sept. 11, 2001 conspiracy theories on his blog, which he later condemned.

Bowman last year also pleaded guilty to one count of falsely pulling a fire alarm in the Cannon Office Building in DC ahead of a congressional vote to avert a partial government shutdown. He paid a $1,000 fine but denied he intended to disrupt the proceedings.


bottom of page