Omali Yeshitela: “The FBI Wants to Put Me on Trial for Fighting for Black Freedom”

Omali Yeshitela
Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party

There are strong indications that in early 2023, I, Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), founder of the Uhuru (“Freedom”) Movement, will be indicted, along with other Uhuru leaders and members, by the federal government of the United States.

Using the bogus and slanderous charge that we are “Russian agents,” the U.S. government and its “Department of Justice” will attempt to put us on trial and imprison us for fighting for the liberation of African people in the U.S. and around the world.

But they will fail. We will win.

I am 81 years old. My political work for the last 60 years or so is influenced by the fact that in my entire life, nearing 100 years, I have not known a single day when my people were not experiencing oppression, exploitation and humiliation.  For most of my life, I have worked to build the movement for freedom for black people in the U.S. and around the world, most significantly beginning with my work as an organizer with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s.

Since 1972 I have organized and led the African People’s Socialist Party and the Uhuru Movement, a worldwide organization fighting for the self-determination of African people everywhere. Our organizational presence extends to nearly every continent. We exist throughout the U.S., Europe, the U.K., Africa and the Caribbean.

Our Party presides over more than 50 institutions of economic development and self-reliance for the African community including numerous projects in north St. Louis, Missouri known as the Black Power Blueprint.

On July 29 of 2022, the FBI violently and militarily raided my home in north St. Louis, Missouri where I live with my wife, the Deputy Chair of the African People’s Socialist Party, Ona Zené Yeshitela, along with six other homes and offices of Uhuru Movement leaders.

Now the U.S. government is attempting to discredit our righteous struggle to free our people from the perpetual immiseration we face in this country stemming from America’s unresolved “original sin” of slavery and colonialism, a sin whose existence was given testimony by U.S. president Joseph Biden on December 15 of this year.

Their “case” against us is baseless and ridiculous. Our case against them is backed by an undeniable history of centuries of ongoing atrocities against our people and our movement by the U.S. government, who have often used the FBI and Department of Justice as their political weapons against us.

When they put us on trial, we will put them on trial.

The U.S. government must be made to explain this attack on us in light of the well-known history of COINTELPRO and other covert and overt acts of surveillance, harassment, imprisonment and/or assassination of leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr., Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Robeson, Fred Hampton and many others.

The U.S. is attempting to hide this blatant attack on black people by saying that it is an attack on Russia, not the African Liberation Movement.

How will they defend this absurd notion against the overwhelming evidence of the criminal colonial assaults by the FBI and Justice Department against African people historically, often using the specter of “the Russians” or “the Communists” as their legal cover?

This case is not about whether or not I went to Russia, or whether or not I have a position around the war in Ukraine that was the same as what the Russians had. This attack was perpetrated against us because we have always fought for the liberation of Africa and African people everywhere.

The legal statutes the U.S. will use to execute this political attack will include the so-called “Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA),” which they also used in 1951 to construct their indictment of W.E.B. DuBois on nearly identical charges of working for “the Russians.”

This is selective prosecution. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other Israeli lobbying organizations are seemingly immune from prosecution under the FARA law despite their obvious public function as agents of the Israeli government. The “Foreign Agents Registration Act” is almost never enforced unless it is used as a tool against Africans and other colonized peoples.

We will raise up our supposed legal rights to freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of assembly, but more importantly, the government must be made to answer for their oppression and terror against black people historically.

Beginning in the 1970s, our Party laid out a strategic approach to winning the freedom for black people that included building relationships with people all around the world to support the struggle for African self-determination in the U.S.

At our First Party Congress held in Oakland, California in 1981, we received solidarity statements from organizations and governments from around the world, including FECOPES in Colombia, Casa El Salvador, the Pan African Congress of Azania (South Africa), the FSLN government from Nicaragua, the New Jewel Movement-led government of Grenada, Casa Chile, the Revolutionary Workers’ Party of Argentina, the Association of Vietnamese Patriots in the U.S., and the National United Movement of Barbados.

This helps to give lie to the notion that our connection to a Russian NGO is evidence of an illicit relationship that we would have with a “foreign” power.

I traveled to Ireland more than 40 years ago to meet with the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) at a time when the Irish people were engaged in a struggle for their independence from British colonialism.

In 1983 The Burning Spear newspaper published an article covering how we won the Irish Republican Socialist Party to support our demand for reparations. They held a press conference with us in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The IRSP came out and said that they didn’t want any monetary donations from any Irish people in America who were not supporting the liberation struggle of black people in the U.S.

Our Party has a half-century long historical trajectory that precedes anything that the U.S. government is talking about now in terms of Russia. I was in Nicaragua representing black people after the Nicaraguan Revolution, based on our relationship with the Sandinista National Liberation Front with whom we worked closely in San Francisco leading up to their victory in 1979.

In 1982 we held the first World Tribunal for Reparations for Black People in history. We indicted the U.S. government based on international law and the right of an oppressed people to wield our own state power.

One aspect of the international law used for the Reparations Tribunal was the question of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

An international panel of judges ruled at the end of two days of testimony that the United States is guilty of genocide against African people. It took another 40 years for the United States to ratify this genocide convention, and only in a fashion that freed itself from any possible trial or repercussions.

The reason the U.S. wouldn’t ratify the Genocide Convention was because they wanted to evade responsibility for their treatment of the colonized African and Indigenous peoples in this country.

The U.S. government and the FBI’s attacks on the Uhuru Movement did not begin in 2022. It goes back decades.

In 1996 more than 300 militarily armed police attacked the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, FL, with airplanes and helicopters. They pumped the entire reserve of tear gas in the city into the Uhuru House where a mass meeting was going on following the police murder of an 18-year-old African teen. This was the same Uhuru House they just invaded and raided again on July 29.

As I mentioned earlier, Biden himself, when he was trying to win the loyalty of people in Africa, had to confess the “original sin” of this country: the stolen labor of African people on the stolen land of the Indigenous people, the foundation on which the United States rests.

Let’s call Biden as a witness to testify about this original sin. Let’s cross-examine him with these questions: Did the original sin ever go away? Can we explain the police murder of George Floyd by the original sin? Can we explain the attacks on the Uhuru Movement by this original sin?

After the FBI raids on seven offices and homes of the Uhuru Movement in two cities in the pre-dawn hours of July 29, 2022, there was a tremendous amount of interest, support and outrage coming from literally millions of people and organizations throughout the U.S. and the world.

Numerous organizations and individuals including St. Louis Alderman from Ward 18, Jesse Todd, Zaki Baruti, President-General of the Universal Afrikan People’s Organization, New York councilpersons Charles and Inez Barron, Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, Nellie Bailey and others sent messages of support, all of which are cited on our website HandsOffUhuru.org.

But as indictments loom, now is the time to escalate the campaign to mobilize massive public support for the Uhuru Movement, the African People’s Socialist Party, its leaders and members and the right of African people everywhere to organize and advocate for our liberation.

Resources are urgently needed for our legal defense and campaign work. We are recruiting into our legal support team. We urge all supporters to sign the emergency response pledge form in preparation for political actions once the indictments come down: HandsOffUhuru.org/Emergency-Response

Our victory will be won in the streets. Join the movement. Put the colonial state on trial. Turn the tables. Win broad mass support from African people and other forces inside this country and around the world.

Join the Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! Defense Campaign and get involved wherever you’re located. Build a committee. Donate. Hold a fundraiser. Be a part of making history and winning a landmark victory for the African Liberation Movement that will forever change the world.

We will win! 

We are winning!

Meet the targeted “unindicted co-conspirators”

On July 29, 2022, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) made it publicly known that the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) and broader Uhuru Movement are targets for U.S. counterinsurgency by conducting violent, simultaneous pre-dawn raids at the homes and offices of Movement leaders, including Chairman Omali Yeshitela himself, in St. Louis, Missouri and St. Petersburg, Florida. In an indictment of a Russian living in Russia, issued by the U.S. government as an explanation for the raids that used armored vehicles, assault rifles, flashbang grenades and other tactics, identified the APSP and four Movement members as “unindicted co-conspirators.”

Chairman Omali Yeshitela – APSP

Born October 9, 1941 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Formerly known as Joe Waller. Chairman Omali was born and raised during a time where the struggle for revolution was the main trend in the world. He got his start in political life while trying to free himself from the U.S. military, after learning about imperialism and connecting that to the struggles impacting African people, specifically in the U.S. Returning home from the military, Chairman Omali dove into the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s-60s, in search of a political home. After exploring the NAACP, the Nation of Islam and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), Chairman Omali settled on joining the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), organizing the first membership-based chapter in Florida.

In 1966, while a member of SNCC, Chairman Omali tore down a white nationalist mural from the walls of the St. Pete city hall building, during a demonstration demanding economic development for the African community. He was sentenced to five years in prison, serving nearly two. Constantly targeted and surveilled by the colonial State, he was attacked, beaten and thrown in jail as the U.S. counterinsurgency war against the Black Revolution heated up. Never retreating, in 1968, he founded the Junta of Militant Organizations (JOMO) and The Burning Spear newspaper, organizing throughout the U.S. south. On African Liberation Day in 1972, Chairman Omali, along with Lawrence Mann of the Black Rights Fighters and Katura Carey of the Gainesville Black Study Group came together to form the African People’s Socialist Party, which turned 50 years old this year (2022). Over the Party’s long, relentless history, the Chairman has tirelessly worked to solve and popularize key questions left outstanding following the defeat of our revolution, including questions regarding reparations to African people, the role of white people in the African Liberation Movement, the primary contradiction facing African people (colonialism vs. racism), building an international revolutionary anti-colonial Movement, and much more. In 1976 he formed the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC).

He initiated the campaign to make reparations a household word with the launch of the First World Tribunal for Reparations to African People, held in Brooklyn, New York in 1982. The Chairman has traveled throughout the world to build internationalist support for the African Liberation Movement, from Nicaragua to London, from France, Ireland, and Occupied Azania (South Africa). Chairman Omali set out to complete the work of Marcus Garvey and the UNIA by building the African Socialist International (ASI), extending the APSP to every place on Earth where Africans can join and organize their respective fronts of the African Revolution. He trained and instructed our Movement on how to build mass organizations, launching campaigns such as the one to “Free Pitts and Lee,” and building organizations such as the African National Reparations Organization (ANRO), the African National Prisoners Organization (ANPO), the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM), the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project (AAPDEP), the Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM) and the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO).

Under the Chairman’s leadership, our Movement was introduced to the concept of dual and contending power, and with this analysis, our economic work transformed, resulting in over 50 economic institutions today. He has provided our struggle with the theory of African Internationalism, a blueprint for destroying the social system of colonial-capitalism and ushering in world socialism. Throughout his life, Chairman Omali has faced countless assassination attempts, including the firebombing of his home. He has published numerous works, among the first projects being a pamphlet printed in 1975 titled, Colonialism: The Fundamental Problem Facing Black People in the U.S. Some of his other works include: Stolen Black Labor, Reparations Now!, The Road to Socialism is Painted Black, The Tactical and Strategic Objectives for Black Liberation, An Uneasy Equilibrium: The African Revolution versus Parasitic Capitalism and Vanguard: The Advanced Detachment of the African Revolution. Chairman Omali has dedicated most of his life to fighting for the total freedom and liberation of Africa and African people.

From the indictment – “Unindicted Co-conspirator 1(‘UIC-1’)…was a United States citizen residing in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the founder and chairman
of U.S. Political Group 1.” The APSP is the “U.S. Political Group 1.

Chair Penny Hess – APSC, under the leadership of the APSP

Born November 9, 1945, in Peoria, Illinois, but was raised in New Albany, Indiana, across from Louisville, Kentucky. After living in France for two years, she returned to Louisville, where a friend of hers told her about Chairman Omali Yeshitela. In late summer of 1976, a few weeks after being back in town, she learned that the Chairman was coming to speak in Louisville. She attended and was immediately in awe of the room filled with Party members in traditional African garb, where at the center, Chairman Omali stood in front of a big map of Africa, pointing at each country and summing up the struggles happening at the time. At this event, Chairman Omali declared that he was building a solidarity committee in Florida. Penny and a carload of people went to Florida at the end of September 1976, to attend what would be the founding conference of the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC).

North Americans from around the U.S. attended this event, where the Chairman gave a 13 hour presentation on Dialectical Materialism, establishing the basis of African Internationalism. The formal consolidation of APSC erupted many political and ideological struggles, as the definitive stance of solidarity with the African Revolution, provided by Chairman Omali, challenged the traditional, dominating politics of the opportunist white Left. This led to APSC’s brief disbandment, until 1985, when APSC was reestablished, committing to working under the Party’s leadership to win reparations from the colonizer population, and embrace African Internationalism. In the Fall of 1978, Penny organized in San Francisco, California with the “Free Dessie Woods! Smash Colonial Violence!” campaign, as well as worked to build support for the Party-led African National Prisoner Organization. In 1979, the first APSC-hosted March Against Genocide was conducted. In 1982, Penny and other APSC members were sent to New York to work with Party member Gaida Kambon, helping to organize for the First World Tribunal on Reparations to African People, held November of that year. Following the Tribunal, in 1984, the Party returned to Oakland, California and embarked on the Measure O housing campaign and Oakland Freedom Summer Project, where Penny served as Campaign Manager. To win major resources to the Black Revolution, APSC kicked off Uhuru Foods and furniture stores as fundraisers, and staffed the Uhuru Bakery Cafe in Oakland from 1987-89. Penny moved to St. Petersburg, Florida in 1999, and while there, under the Party’s leadership, she managed several electoral campaigns including Chairman’s run for mayor in 2001, Chimurenga Selembao’s (then Waller) campaign, and in 2017, she managed Jesse Nevel’s run for mayor, raising up the slogan, “Unity Through Reparations!”

She relocated to St. Louis, MO, the Party’s recently established headquarters, in 2019. Penny is the author of Culture of Violence, published in 1991, and Overturning the Culture of Violence, published in 2000. She has been arrested twice during her time in the Movement, once in 1985 in California, at a protest and rent strike of the Uhuru House, as well as in 2001 in Tampa, FL, for taking a stand against the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and expressing solidarity with African, Afghani and colonized peoples for independence. As the Chair of APSC, Penny Hess has been instrumental in carrying out the Party’s strategy to extend the African Revolution behind enemy lines into the colonizer population.

From the indictment – “Unindicted Co-conspirator 2 (‘UIC-2’)…was a United States citizen residing in St. Petersburg, Florida, and St. Louis, Missouri, and a leader of a component of U.S. Political
Group 1.”

Jesse Nevel – APSC, under the leadership of the APSP

Born November 9, 1989 in Miami, Florida. Jesse was introduced to the Uhuru Movement in 2009, after attending an event on colonialism’s destruction of the environment at New College in Sarasota, Florida, where he saw APSC Chairwoman Penny Hess speak. While studying at the University of South Florida (USF) in 2010, Jesse met Chairman Omali Yeshitela for the first time at a special event held on campus to honor the acquisition of the Chairman’s books into the special collections archive at the university’s library. At the event, Jesse was approached by veteran members of APSC and recruited into the Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM).

He was first assigned to volunteer in the Party’s department of Agitation and Propaganda as well as applying for grants for local Uhuru Movement programs. A few months later, he went back to Miami and participated in a Black is Back Coalition march in Little Haiti, in defense of Africans in Haiti following the devastating earthquake, describing the experience as “life-changing.” As an organizer for USM in St. Petersburg, Jesse organized panel discussions at USF, to bring the Movement onto the campus and address the white students on critical questions like reparations to African people.

In 2011, after having participated in the Party-led Freedom Summer Project in St. Pete, organized by the Chairman during a time where assassination threats were being made on the Party’s leadership, Jesse made the decision to join APSC. In 2014, Jesse was assigned by the Party to serve as the National Chair of USM. Jesse has spoken publicly on the responsibility of Jewish white people like himself to stand in unconditional solidarity with African, Palestinian and colonized peoples’ liberation. In 2015, Jesse led a contingent of USM members in a highly publicized demonstration in solidarity with African people that confronted 300 armed white nationalist counter-protestors in Brooksville, Florida. In 2017, under the leadership of the Party, Jesse ran for mayor of St. Pete with the slogan, “Unity Through Reparations!” This campaign was nationally known for putting reparations on the ballot for the first time in U.S. history! In 2019, Jesse functioned as the campaign manager for Anne Hirsch for St. Pete District 5 City Council. Since Jesse’s assignment as the Chair of USM, he has coordinated the annual Days of Reparations Tour, the March for Reparations, and has extended the mass organization of white solidarity with Black Power into 140 cities, in over 30 states across the U.S.

From the indictment – “Unindicted Co-conspirator 3 (‘UIC-3’)…was a United States citizen residing in St. Petersburg, Florida, and St. Louis, Missouri, and a member of U.S. Political Group 1.”

Director Akilé Anai – APSP

Born October 22, 1996 in St. Petersburg, Florida. Formerly known as Eritha Cainion. Akilé’s father, Ntambwe Bhekizitha, introduced her to the Uhuru Movement when she was a child, based on his relationship to the Movement starting when he was just 12-years old. Akilé was born two days before the St. Petersburg Police killed 18-year old TyRon Lewis, sparking the fierce 1996 rebellions known as the Battle of St. Pete.

During this time, the colonial State descended on the Uhuru Movement with over 300 police forces, the city’s entire arsenal of tear gas, a police helicopter and full riot gear. They attempted to assassinate Chairman Omali and crush this Movement, but were met with organized guerrilla warfare waged by the African working class. As a teenager, Akilé often contributed to Movement events with cultural performances in poetry, acting and singing. At age 14, she participated in the Freedom Summer Project held in St. Pete, going on a camping trip organized by the All African People’s Development and Empowerment Project, and helping to build community gardens.

In 2014, following the murder of 18-year old Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO, Akilé’s involvement as a mass force increased, volunteering in the Party’s department of Agitation and Propaganda, helping with Uhuru Foods and Pies, and assisting in planning for the weekly community rallies. In 2015, following her high school graduation, she officially joined the APSP and was voted onto the International Executive Committee of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) as the Membership Coordinator.

Akilé was appointed the Chair of the Justice for the Three Drowned Black Girls (3DBG) campaign after the Summer of 2016, following the drowning of three teenaged African girls by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department. This international campaign toured one of the mothers across the U.S. and garnered thousands of dollars towards legal fees. In 2017, under the Party’s leadership, Akilé, along with Comrade Jesse, ran for public office for District Six City Council in St. Pete, with the slogan, “Radical Times, Radical Solutions!” These campaigns identified Akilé as the first reparations candidate in history, as was profiled in Ebony Magazine as a “Millennial for Change.”

Following her bid for city council, in November of 2017, at 21-years old, she was appointed as the Party’s Director of Agitation and Propaganda, making her the youngest member to ever sit on the Party’s National Central Committee. She ran for office again in 2019 with the slogan, “Make the Southside Black Again,” where she earned the second highest votes in the city’s primary election, advancing to the general. She currently functions as the Party’s AgitProp Director, providing leadership for the information, education, media relations and communication apparatuses of the Uhuru Movement.

From the indictment – “Unindicted Co-conspirator 4 (‘UIC-4’)…was a United States citizen residing in St. Petersburg, Florida, and the Director of Agitation and Propaganda of U.S. Political Group 1.”

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