AMHERST, Mass. – Massachusetts taxpayers are questioning the speaking fee for activist communist Angela Davis to talk to students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst this month. reported on Tuesday that Davis is scheduled to deliver a talk titled “Sustaining Social Justice Movements and Intersectional Struggles” at the university’s Fine Arts Center March 30.

The announcement drew criticism from taxpayers online, who commented on Davis’ controversial past.

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Davis was tried as a conspirator in the 1970 armed takeover of a Marin County, California courtroom in which four people died. Davis purchased the guns used in the tragic incident, and was on the run from the FBI for a time before she was eventually acquitted of aggravated kidnapping and first degree murder, according to

Davis was a leader in the Communist Party USA in the 1960s and reportedly had close relations with the Black Panthers. She was fired from her teaching position at UCLA in 1970 for repeated references to cops as “pigs,” and other “inflammatory language,” according to media reports.

MassLive commenter seekthetruth posted that he didn’t appreciate the public university using tax dollars to finance Davis’ speaking engagement.

“I just sent a request to cancel this ‘event’ citing my disgust at using taxpayer money to promote anti American diatribe,” seekthetruth wrote.

“Quite the list of associations, no wonder she was on the FBI most wanted list…associations with Communist Party, relations with Black Panthers, VP candidate for Communist Party…  interesting speaker for UMASS to select,” rachst posted.

Some also called to expose the amount UMass is paying Davis for her appearance.

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So, MassLive tracked down the details on the finances.

“UMass is paying Davis $16,000 for the speaking engagement,” according to the news site.

“Her appearance at UMass is sponsored by the College of Humanities & Fine Arts, Office of the Provost, Division of Student Affairs and Campus Life, Sociology Department, College of Education, Political Science Department, UMass Graduate School, History Department, Interdisciplinary Studies Institute, Student Government Association, Black Mass Communication Project Graduate Student Senate, Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies, Social Thought and Political Economy, W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, Commonwealth Honors College and the Center for Multicultural Advancement and Student Success.”

Reporter Diane Lederman compared Davis’ fees to Karl Rove’s $15,000 UMass visit in 2013.

“Rove dropped his $25,000 fee so members of Young Republicans Club from the university and Smith College could afford to book him,” according to the news site.

“Davis typically earns between $10,000 and $20,000, according to the Keppler Speaker’s website.”

Lederman also touched on Davis’ past, and her academic pursuits since.

MassLive reports:

In 1972, a jury found her not guilty of murder, kidnapping and criminal conspiracy. The New York Times reported that Davis, 28 at the time of her trial, had been charged after guns used in a courtroom escape attempt were found to be registered in her name.

In August 1970, Jonathan Jackson, then 17, smuggled guns into a Marin County courtroom in San Rafael, California, and armed three black convicts.

A hostage situation involving the judge, a prosecutor and three female jurors ensued. The judge, Jackson and two of the convicts died in getaway vans during a shootout with police. …

Davis is Distinguished Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness and Feminist Studies Departments at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 1994, she received the distinguished honor of an appointment to the University of California Presidential Chair in African American and Feminist Studies.