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Burning Spear News

Embarking on the one-year anniversary of the drowning of three teenage African girls by Florida sheriffs

Mar 21, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG––A horrendous crime was committed on March 31, 2016 by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department in St. Petersburg, Florida.

This crime was the murder of three teenage African girls, Dominique Battle, La’Niyah Miller and Ashaunti Butler, which violently ripped them from their families.

The tragedy began when deputy Howard Skaggs saw the girls driving, to which he pulled up behind them in an attempt to harass and intimidate them.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s deputies engaged in an illegal pursuit of the girls, but were ordered to call it off by superiors. Despite having this clear direction not to chase them, deputy Skaggs continued chasing them, at an alarming 93 miles per hour, following them down a dark, winding dirt path that he knew would result in a pond.

This was the same deputy Howard Skaggs that beat and drowned 18-year-old African Laboriel Felton in 2002 while using his first responding skills to save a police K-9 from drowning in the pond. 

After pushing the car they were in into a cemetery pond, causing the three girls to end up merely 15 to 20 feet away from the shore, 17 sheriff’s deputies trained as first responders stood idly by and watched them drown, all while making callous remarks about their death.

Following the murder, sheriff Bob Gualtieri, with the collaboration of white colonial media, waged a slander campaign filled with lies to justify Dominique, La’Niyah and Ashaunti’s deaths.


The deputies lied when they stated that they didn’t pursue the girls, however their own dash-cam footage served to contradict them as it was recorded going 93 miles per hour.

They lied again and stated that the girls stole the car, despite there being no charges or reports of a stolen car. They told another bold-faced lie when they falsely reported that the deputies did everything they could to save the girls. But their own dash-cam videos revealed that they stood around casually speaking for nearly six whole minutes as the girls drowned.

It will be a year since the murders on March 31st, and still, African people everywhere are gearing up to fight for justice for the three drowned black girls.

This international struggle for justice started out of St. Petersburg with the formation of the 3 Drowned Black Girls steering committee. The committee kicked off 2017 with a New Year’s community march and resistance rally, re-igniting the momentum for this case.

Throughout January, the committee conducted a national call-in to the Sheriff’s Department that gave them much uneasiness as well as a powerful demonstration in Gualtieri’s neighborhood in Palm Harbor. (Sheriff Bob Gualtieri being head of the Sheriff’s Department and completely responsible for the slander campaign that was waged against the three girls and the African community as well as their murders).

In February, the 3 Drowned Black Girls Committee hosted a Tours Web Conference, arming those who were willing to commit the tools they needed in order to conduct a successful 3 Drowned Black Girls tour event where Kundé Mwamvita, the mother of Dominique Battle, as well as fierce freedom fighter in the office of Deputy Chairwoman One Zené for economic development, can speak and share her story. In this conference, the committee raised $1,220 for the legal fees!

The committee also held the Nfiniti Match Speed Dating event and Uzi Fashion Show on Valentine’s Day as a fundraiser for the legal fees of the campaign.

Revolutionary demands for for justice

Now, in the month of March, embarking on the one-year anniversary of the girls’ murders, this committee for Justice for the Three Drowned Black Girls is launching a Gofundme Fund Drive to raise $18,000 for the legal fees and on March 31, 2017, the legal attorney of one of the three girls' cases, Aaron O’Neal, will be filing the wrongful death suit that will officially set this case off in the courthouse.

But it’s not just St. Pete engaged in this struggle.

Branches of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement throughout the U.S. and Europe as well as Uhuru Solidarity Movement branches, have been and are continuing to conduct outreach and host events and fundraisers to win international support for this campaign.

This committee has been hard at work and is preparing to intensify its pace, taking up as much space, in the community and in the courtrooms, demanding justice for Dominiqe, La’Niyah and Ashaunti.

We demand justice in the form of the immediate resignation of sheriff Bob Gualtieri, criminal charges against deputy Howard Skaggs and all other deputies involved in their murder, black community control of the police, and reparations for the stolen lives of Dominique, La’Niyah, and Ashaunti!

Forward the 3DBG campaign!


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