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TALKING POINTS | Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! Defense Campaign (May 2023 Update)

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  1. Indictments were issued April 18, 2023; Arraignments in Federal Court, Middle District of Florida in Tampa on May 2 for Chairman Omali Yeshitela, represented by Attorney Ade Griffin and Penny Hess, represented by Attorney Leonard Goodman. Jesse Nevel was arraigned on May 8, represented by Attorney Mutaqee Akbar.

    Current status of the case: 
    • At the May 2 arraignment, African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) Chairman Omali Yeshitela, 81 and Penny Hess, 77, were shackled in handcuffs and leg irons after reporting for their arraignment in a courtroom packed with supporters. As the target of the indictments, Chairman Omali Yeshitela faces federal charges after a lifetime of organizing dedicated to “the liberation of Africa and African people everywhere.” At the May 8 appearance Jesse Nevel was also shackled. All were released on $25,000 signature bonds and have been placed under pre-trial supervision. A trial date has not yet been set.
    • Penny Hess and Jesse Nevel, two white people working under the leadership of the APSP also face charges after organizing for decades in the white community for solidarity and reparations to the black community. Hess is the Chair of the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC) and Nevel is the Chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM), white organizations organizing for white reparations to African people and directly accountable to the APSP.
    • Known as the “Uhuru three” the indictment charges them with “conspiracy” (18 U.S.C. § 371) to commit an offense against the United States… acting as an agent of a foreign government and foreign officials, to wit, the Russian federation…, in violation of 18 USC  Â§ 951(a),” with a maximum prison sentence of 15 years, charges vigorously denied as completely “bogus” by the Uhuru 3.
    • The indictments came 9 months after a militarized multi-city FBI raid used flash bang devices, drones, armored vehicles, automatic weapons and scores of flak-jacketed soldiers to seize computers, hard drives, phones and files from seven homes and offices of Uhuru Movement leaders.
  1. The July 29, 2022 FBI militarized pre-dawn raids: : See the video of the attacks
    • On July 29th the U.S. government attacked the African People’s Socialist Party with a violent FBI attack on 7 offices and homes of APSP and Uhuru Movement, leaders including the home of Chairman Omali Yeshitela and Deputy Chair Ona Zene Yeshitela in St. Louis, the Uhuru House in St. Pete, the Uhuru Solidarity Center in St. Louis.  
    • Chairman, Deputy Chair Ona Zene, and others were handcuffed with assault rifles pointed at them. The FBI used flash bang grenades, drones, battering rams, breaking down doors, windows, stealing property, computers, phones, files, archives. 
  2. Talking points 
    • Free speech. Throughout his 81 years he has been arrested, shot at, beaten, firebombed, pepper-sprayed and imprisoned for exercising his right to speak the truth of life as it is experienced by black people in America. Neither he nor the Uhuru Movement has ever been accused of crimes of violence or theft – only of “thought crimes” and for exercising the supposed American principle of free speech. These indictments recall the FBI’s COINTELPRO program which unleashed assassinations, false arrests, provocateurs and slander against the Black activists and leaders in the 1960s and 70s. The ACLU writes, “COINTELPRO targeted numerous non-violent protest groups and political dissidents with illegal wiretaps, warrantless physical searches and an array of other dirty tricks… The FBI has a long history of abusing its national security surveillance powers. The potential for abuse is once again great, particularly given that the lines between criminal investigations and foreign intelligence operations have been blurred or erased since 9/11. As a result, intrusive surveillance tools originally developed to target Soviet spies are increasingly being used against Americans… “ These attacks designed to silence Chairman Omali include:
      1. 1966 removal of racist mural from St. Pete City Hall, felony conviction, 5-year sentence
      2. 1968 in Gainesville, Florida, arrested after a speech following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, for inciting to riot, despite the fact that no riot occurred. 
      3. When the sanitation workers in St. Petersburg went on strike, the Florida Attorney General pressured Yeshitela’s bondsman to revoke his bond so that he could not return to St. Pete ”because of what I might say.”
      4. 1978 shot at while delivering a speech in San Francisco, California.
      5. 1980s(?) house was firebombed in Oakland, California. 
      6. 1996, over 300 armed forces from various agencies surrounded the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, using tear gas, helicopters and a small plane to disrupt a community meeting taking place to discuss a grand jury’s failure to indict 2 police in the death of an unarmed black motorist. 
    • Agency. We are our own liberators! It’s a racist insult to say that Chairman Omali is not his own person, always speaking and acting in the interest of the African working class. The Chairman has developed the political theory of African Internationalism and the understanding of the Colonial Mode of Production, the driving force of the capitalist world economy.
    • There are countless documented speeches, published books, a monthly journal, The Burning Spear newspaper, since 1969 archived at the University of Florida, initiating and leading organizations for black rights and opposing U.S. wars, etc. The African People’s Socialist Party was founded in 1972 and has, for over 50 years, maintained a consistent world view and carried out a consistent program of organizing for the liberation of African people worldwide. It is guided by the political theory of African Internationalism, developed by Chairman Omali Yeshitela and published in numerous books as well as on the pages of The Burning Spear newspaper, issues of which can be viewed in the digital newspapers collection of the University of Florida. Chairman Omali’s development of the concept of the “colonial mode of production” vs. colonialism being a policy is taking hold today.
    • Black community self-determination. We are targeted in part because the Uhuru Movement rejects the U.S. welfare state that seeks to control and contain the black community, choosing rather to build independent community programs across the country to meet the people’s needs for food, clothing, shelter, health care, education and economic self-sufficiency. The APSP has maintained economic self-sufficiency throughout its existence, ensuring that its political agenda serves the interests of its self-defined program for African liberation and is not dictated by any external force. Picking oranges, backyard fish fries and selling The Burning Spear newspaper on the street provided resources for the APSP in its infancy, soon expanding to a bookstore, restaurant, bakery cafe and graphic design business. The APSP’s strategic move to create the African People’s Solidarity Committee and a movement for white reparations to the black community today produces resources from thousands of individual donors from members of the colonizer nation. These reparations combine with financial support from black workers and from granting agencies in the U.S. to fund the Uhuru Movement’s work. Today – Black Power Blueprint has brought life and hope back to the deeply impoverished north side, building community centers, gardens, farmers markets, housing and workforce programs for formerly incarcerated African people, trainings for doulas and midwives, and is now working to construct a black women’s health center to build community-based solutions to the grave and genocidal rates of infant and maternal mortality faced by African women in this country. The Uhuru Movement has also initiated African self-reliance programs internationally including rainwater harvesting, a disaster relief agency, midwifery school, free telehealth program and more. In addition to raiding and filing charges against Uhuru leaders, the government has enlisted the assistance of several financial institutions to impose economic sanctions attacking these black self-help programs. (see timeline for details)
    • Legacy of FBI war on black liberation. The U.S. Bureau of Investigation (later called the FBI) hired its first black agent in 1919 to infiltrate Garvey’s UNIA, framing him, jailing him, exiling him back to Jamaica and destroying his movement. Scores of black leaders and organizations have been targeted by the FBI, many of them with an accusation of friendship with Russia, including W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson and Martin Luther King, Jr. COINTELPRO in the 1960s is well-known for its program to silence black leaders and crush black organizations.
    • We Charge Genocide. History of black people charging the U.S. government of genocide under the U.N. Conventions – both the Uhuru Movement since its inception and other black leaders. This is not new, nor directed by Russia as the indictment alleges. From its earliest days, the APSP publicized the fact that African people face genocide at the hands of the U.S. government and brought this charge before the world community and the United Nations. The APSP held the first “International Tribunal on Reparations for Black People in the U.S.” in NYC in 1982. The Tribunal heard testimony to show how the U.S. violates the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. For 40+ years, the APSP introduced the reparations demand into black community struggles against police violence, unjust imprisonment, and the denial of decent housing, education, healthcare and economic development, making “reparations” the household word it is today.
    • We claim the right to organize internationally. Chairman Omali’s international travel and developing relations of solidarity around the world – He has spoken at the United Nations and represented black people at gatherings in Nicaragua; Huelva, Spain, Big Mountain AZ (Navaho aka Dine); South Africa; Sierra Leone; Ireland; France; Netherlands; Jamaica; The Bahamas. In 2019, Chairman Omali won the “Africa Debate” at the Oxford Union in England.
    • FBI tries to suppress the black vote. These charges come in context of current and historic efforts to prevent black people from participation in elections or voting. Chairman Omali faced lynchings to register black people to vote in the South in the 1960s as a field organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Today he leads the Black is Back Coalition for Social Justice, Peace and Reparations, which holds an annual free school teaching regular black people to run for office and which developed the platform that Uhuru candidates have run on. Now the DOJ is saying the Russian government created that platform and alleges election interference!  “They told us we should go to the polls and vote if we wanted to make change; now they arrest us for participating in the electoral system.” 
  3. The Party’s powerful response: Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! 
  4. The Party continued all its work despite the attacks;Through thousands of donations from supporters including white people paying reparations, the Party was able to successfully complete the Black community Basketball court, launch the African women’s doula program, paint the beautiful murals, maintain the community garden, the farmers market and many more projects of the Black Power Blueprint  in St. Louis.
  5. Here’s what you can do:
    • Donate to the Hands Off Uhuru campaign at
    • Join the Hands Off Committee or start your own in your area
    • Sign the petition at Hands Off Uhuru! 
    • Hold a fundraiser and/or print the flier!
    • Sign up for the Emergency Response!

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