Chairman Omali, of the African People’s Socialist Party (Uhuru) and myself at the “Uhuru House” (headquarters for the party) in St Pete, Fl near Tampa, the evening of the 28th, after he gave an impassioned speech and answered my question.
On Thursday, September 28th, 2023, at the federal courthouse in Tampa, a few days shy of my 39th birthday (tomorrow October 1st), the hearing to address the motion of dismissal from the defense was heard. I drove from Jacksonville, FL, the day prior, in the rain and partially at night, to get there, and it was worth the trip. Comrades from all over the country, many flying in or taking buses, converged on Tampa to show their support for the Uhuru 3, who are leaders of this great movement (Chariman Omali, Chairs Penny and Jesse) that takes the Swahili word for freedom (Uhuru), Swahili a language being spoken in several African nations (Che took lessons in it when he was in the Congo).
When I got to the safe house in St Pete where I was to crash, I noticed in the room I was staying in was several books, one of them being Che’s Bolivian diary, when I saw that I knew I was home. When I got the tour of the headquarters I was to see for the first time the following morning before we headed to court, one of the first things I saw was an image of Che, which with permission I took a photo of, I have not uploaded that to twitter as of it but will shortly. I noted upon entering the office and admiring a clock with the image of Africa on it, that Fidel had given Che a watch before he left for Bolivia, and said: You need a watch when you are fighting in the Bolivian jungle. Many nodded and it was a good way to break the ice as I was meeting several comrades for the first time.
The interesting thing about this Che poster shown prominently on the Uhuru House wall, is that it shows the entire Americas, including North America, along Che’s image, we often see it showing only Latin America, this shows that the Uhuru comrades know something few others do, that Che advocated for revolution within the US Empire itself. Indeed, one of my favorite Che quotes states the following: Envy I have for the North Americans, for their fight is the most important, within the belly of the beast.
Last year the feds raided these headquarters in a vicious attack, the extent of which I learned more of going there. The headquarters in St Louis, Missouri was also attacked the same day. The St Pete location had its windows broken, and a drown was sent in along with stun grenades and tear gas, the Chairman’s elder wife, him being an elder as well, almost got hit by the drone and even though she was not charged, she was also put in handcuffs and ordered to sit on the curb as a way to humiliate during the raid, a raid that found no material evidence against the movement. As the Chairman mentioned in his statement outside the court house after the proceedings, the state wanted them to get intimidated and make a deal after the raid, but they were dealing with hardened activists and would do nothing of the sort, their case is weak and they are grabbing at straws.
I also learned looking at the images on the wall of the Uhuru House that back in the 60s the Chairman was arrested in St Pete for tearing down a racist mural and sentenced to 5 years in prison. He is a hardened activist and revolutionary in his own right, who has advocated for peaceful resistance, with the mission to complete the mission of Dr. King, the Black Panthers, and others who were fighting for civil and human rights, as his organization started in 1972. Just to give you perspective, Chairman Fred Hampton, the Black Panther leader, was assassinated only 3 years prior to their formation. Chairman Omali among the few from his generation still alive or who do not remain in prison, in his 80s, and yet they try to put him another 10 years in jail today on trumped up charges, in a similar lawfare fashion that they are doing with the Ambassador Alex Saab case in Miami.
I can personally attest to the eloquence of the Chairman in his speeches and his remarkable memory, being at such an advanced age. For example, when I met him in March earlier this year in DC, I told him about the Saab case, which he was unfamiliar with, later he would bring up Saab in his speeches as other comrades he inquired to informed him more of the case of the struggle of the Venezuelan diplomat, a hero kidnapped in Miami by the US government who fought illegal US sanctions, as those sanctions have now been used against the bank accounts of US citizens from Uhuru. In the Q&A at the Uhuru House after his speech of the evening of the 28th along with other leaders, I asked him the following: The Uhuru movement has made connections for solidarity with Latin American countries, what can it do to better outreach to the Latin American community within the US Empire? His response moved me. He told me there are things I can do to help, as someone mentioned I been helping with translation work, and he also mentioned his conversation with Daniel Ortega when he went to Nicaragua back in the day, and with good pronunciation, the Chairman said the word Africanos, meaning Africans. He also proceeded to talk about Alex Saab, which means he remembers am the one who informed him of that case.
Now let me get into what happened in court that day. Mr. Goodman, head of the defense, did most of the speaking. The defense started first, the courtroom was packed with Uhuru supporters, before Mr. Goodman spoke, a comrade in a jumpsuit, the 4th defendant who unfortunately has not been bailed out, emerged, he is a member of Black Hammer. One of his guards had a beard and made me think of the Ancient Greek imperial guard for some reason. This defendant am not too familiar with but who has similar charges against him, also had a lawyer but this lawyer did not speak and relied on the attorneys for the Uhuru 3. Mr. Goodman laid out, in an impeccable way, his voice timid but confident, how this case is the worse one he has seen practicing federal law in 25 years, that this case is unprecedented and would effectively end the first amendment as we know it, and as the Supreme Court has consistently interpreted it as protecting political speech, that the indictment, did not specify a single act, or overt act like something nefarious, espionage, etc, that the indictment focused on articles and foreign policy views Uhuru have consistently had for half a century, that no Russian national, state actor or not, told them to say these things as they are claiming. The hearing ended with the judge making no decision yet one way or another.
The Chairman made the point after the charges are actually racist since they imply black people have no agency, cannot think for themselves and must have a white person in Russia tell them what to do. The lawyer cited several cases, including one of a Palestinian journalist in Chicago who acted as a spy for Iraq, and said that the jury was instructed then to not take his articles alone as nefarious, therefore since no nefarious act could be shown the charges must be dropped. The judge asked some questions of both sides, it was interesting how the government lied to the judge and said they could somehow show both acts and speech, however speech is not supposed to be at play when it comes to political speech. It was mentioned certain speech that cause immediate danger could apply, I was thinking yelling fire in a crowded movie theater, of course that does not apply here.
To conclude, this case has more to do during the Ukraine war and Russia’s role in it, along with it having allies in the US (the Chairman only went to Russia in 2015, 7 years prior to the war) and trying to silence those allies, than any concerns about nefarious acts. As the Chairman had said in a facebook message to the Russian national in question (as pointed out by the defense in their written response) Uhuru are allies not employees of the Russians, they have independent agency and when their interest do not align with other allies they remain in disagreement. The government said the “act” was sowing discord, that means disagreement, so now are have to all agree with the imperial government? I joked with the Chairman upon entering the court house that this is the imperial court, however all jokes have truth to it. Outside at the press conference (wish there was more media) I got to shake Mr. Goodman’s hand and congratulate him on his incredible defense, you can see these lawyers care, white lawyers, fighting for black leaders, true solidarity all around. Uhuru comrades! We will be marching on DC in November! No one will silence us! In my last words to the Chairman before I headed home that evening, I said, in the words of Che (Guevara) hasta la victoria siempre! (until victory always) and the Chairman responded repeating siempre, always, with perfect pronunciation. This movement may sow discord but it does not promote division, it actually promotes unity, unity against oppression, and as the Chairman is full of love its a movement of love, as Che said revolutionaries are guided by love. May the Chairman live many more years as a free man, he is in good shape, and as mentioned, with a good memory and eloquence, a good sense of humor as well, he like his movement remains defiant against the imperialist-colonialist project! Victory will be won.