Nehanda Abiodun, Wanted by the FBI, Dies in Havana at 68

Nehanda Abiodun, formerly known as Cheri Laverne Dalton, was one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 10 February 2019 — Radical U.S. activist Nehanda Abiodun, charged in 1981 for involvement in the robbery of an armored vehicle that resulted in the deaths of two police officers and one security guard, passed away in Havana on the 30th of January at 68 years old, according to The New York Times.

The death of Abiodun was confirmed by Henry Louis Taylor Jr., a historian who interviewed the activist for a biography he was writing in collaboration with research fellow Linda McGlynn of the University of Buffalo.

Abiodun spent over 30 years living on the island as a fugitive. In her youth she joined the Republic of New Africa, an organization that sought to create an independent black nation in the southern United States. Authorities suspect she formed part of the self-titled Weather Underground and Black Liberation Army, radical groups that committed a series of bombings and abductions in the 60s and 70s.

On the 21st of October, 1981, the group to which Abiodun belonged attempted to rob 1.6 million dollars from an armored vehicle in New York. A band of armed individuals conducted an ambush on three security guards, killing a guard by the name of Peter Paige. During the escape, they exchanged gunfire with several police officers, ending the lives of officers Edward O’Grady and Waverly Brown.

Since this incident, Nehanda Abiodun, formerly known as Cheri Laverne Dalton, was on the FBI’s most wanted list for conspiracy and organized crime, among other charges.

Adiodun never admitted to having participated in the crimes, but did defend the perpetrators. In an interview in 2000 she expressed her lack of sympathy for the police officers who died in the robbery, as “they were upholding the genocidal and oppressive policies of the United States” which made them “soldiers who were at war with us.”

After several years of living underground, the activist fled to Cuba in 1990, where she received political asylum alongside others on the run from criminal justice in the U.S.

For years, the U.S. government has solicited Havana for the extradition of Adiodun and the rest of radical activists who are refugees on the island, but the Plaza of the Revolution never agreed to the request.

Translated by Carly Nicole Dunn


The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.