Burning Spear News
RADICAL TIMES! RADICAL SOLUTIONS! Unity through Reparations!
I have seen my fair share of sell-out politicians try to sell their lies to the black community to get our votes. So when two honest and committed comrades who I know and have worked with for years told me they were entering the electoral arena, I was ecstatic.
Finally, someone who speaks to the interests of our community and is unafraid to say the truth about what this city and system are doing to us no matter who it might offend!
Of course I am referring to Eritha “Akilé” Cainion, the 20 year-old African woman who is known throughout the world for her years of dedicated work among the African masses fighting against police brutality and other conditions we face, and Jesse Nevel, a white activist who has been organizing in solidarity with African liberation for almost a decade.
I sat down with these two political candidates to discuss with them why they have chosen to run for City Councilwoman of District 6 and Mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida, respectively, and what they plan to do once they are elected.
Gazi Kodzo: Akilé, you’re running for District 6 City Council. I heard that your father has been a constant target of police abuse. Is this true and how will this affect your policies on police terrorism?
Eritha “Akilé” Cainion: It is an unfortunate truth. My family, just like almost every black family across this country, has experienced constant targeting of police abuse. My uncle Aaron was stolen and has been locked away in prison since I was in seventh grade.
He was taken away from three beautiful children for whom he worked tirelessly to provide. He was sentenced to 26 years in prison and was sent to South Carolina.
And within the past year and a half, my father, who has been a victim of police abuse on so many occasions, was walking around in a small grocery store near his workplace. Someone had called the police because they said someone was in the store waving a gun around.
My father opened the front doors to exit with two shopping bags filled with snacks in his hands, and he was confronted with nearly 20 police officers, all with their guns drawn and a shotgun mere inches from his chest.
He was demanded to lie on the ground and be subjected to a search. I had graduated from college at this time and was already familiarizing myself with the police’s historical and current function in relation to the black community.
This is intolerable. And to this day, not one of those trigger-happy officers who gun-rushed my father has paid a price.
This is all the more reason for my policy of Black Community Control of the Police. Not only as a means to end police terrorism of the black community, but to make the police accountable to the black community and to completely deconstruct this relationship that the police have with the black community, where the police act as a military occupying army, coming into our community for the sole purposes of looking for crime and what they call trouble, not to “protect and serve” as their mantra would suggest, while the black community functions as the occupied.
Black Community Control of the Police is a democratic solution to the problem of State-sanctioned murder and violence of African people.
I must demand, as someone personally affected by police abuse and has seen it carried out in my community time and time again, the public safety of the black community, and that is through this policy of the black community hiring, firing, training, and disciplining the police in our communities.
Gazi Kodzo: Jesse, you’ve been my comrade for years and I know you’re gonna get the vote, but how are other black folk supposed to know you’re not using the promise of reparations as a trick to get our votes?
Jesse Nevel: This is a really important question because for years and years, politicians have told every lie in the book and used every trick to try to get “the black vote” but they can never say they stand for reparations.
In fact, even Bernie Sanders and Barack Obama both stated up front they were opposed to reparations. That’s because they’re politicians and they’re part of the system.
I’m bringing the reparations demand up into the electoral arena so that everyone is forced to deal with this issue. This shouldn’t be a taboo.
Reparations were paid to the Jews for what happened in Europe, so why shouldn’t we talk about reparations to the black community for what’s taken place right here in America?
Reparations is not a promise, it’s a demand. I would never expect anybody to trust a politician. I sure don’t.
I trust the people and the movement.
That’s why we keep saying, we can only win if we build the people’s movement. Unite St. Petersburg around this progressive agenda.
When we win, the way we make reparations real is for the people’s movement to sustain and exert real power. This takes it out of my hands or whether I am trustworthy.
This is a revolution we’re talking about. Revolution is in the hands of the people not politicians. My candidacy is just an instrument for the people to ascend to power over the future of this city.
Gazi Kodzo: Akilé, it’s great you’re young and black, but young black people can be sell-outs too. What makes you different than these young Condoleezza Rice clones I’ve been seeing?
Eritha “Akilé” Cainion: The glaring difference is in the platform, or the lack thereof for that matter. There’s no significance in my youth unless it represents a struggle against the status quo, not a youthful manifestation of it.
My platform of radical solutions speaks to the interests of the black community specifically, and there isn’t anyone out here doing that right now.
And it not only addresses the issues of my community, but it exposes the city’s responsibility in creating and exacerbating those issues, and proposes how we move forward with reparations and black self-determination.
There’s a lot of black youth out here now who rely on their age as part of their platform. Almost like that’s supposed to be the winning point amongst the black community. But it is not enough!
I am not afraid to challenge the status quo, the big money politicians, the big developers, or the sell-outs for that matter.
I’ll call all of them out, expose them to the people and win the people to join this social movement to fight for what’s in their interests.
If a young black candidate can’t even say the word “black” throughout their campaign, if a young black candidate washes over the past for the sake of the corrupt city leaders, then they are not the people’s candidate.
And that’s the difference. I am a candidate, of and for the people.
Gazi Kodzo: Jesse, how are you going to get the alt-right racist white folks to unite with reparations once you are mayor?
Jesse Nevel: We can’t be afraid to draw the line. I firmly believe that most people in this city will stand on the right side of the line, but a few will not; they are still tied to the status quo.
They want business as usual. They want power to stay in the hands of the big developers, the bankers, the land grabbers. We’re in for a fight but we can win.
We’re going to unify the neighborhoods against the big developers so we can rise up and sweep away the status quo.
And many, many white people are already supporting this because we want to stand in solidarity with the black community so we can unite with them and fight back against the system that is opposed to all of our interests!
We have to give everyone who wants to be on the right side an opportunity to do so.
Gazi Kodzo: Akilé, why do you believe you can win this election being in a primarily white district talking about all these black issues?
Eritha “Akilé” Cainion: This campaign represents a new beginning for St. Pete. It’s a campaign to bring prosperity to the entire city, no one living at the expense of someone else.
Historically and today, this city has been built and benefitted off the labor and land of the black community. This city has facilitated an ongoing loot of our community for generations.
And despite the big downtown development, high rises and condos popping up every other day, the city of St. Pete is in a real crisis.
The regular day-to-day people of this city, including white people, are fed up with the status quo.
They want a change to this corrupt government and this campaign is bringing that change.
But in order to genuinely solve the entire city’s crisis and move us on a genuine path of being “progressive,” you have to start by righting the historic wrongs committed against the black community by this city.
Every point on my platform, from reparations to the black community to black community control of the police, even the white community and the overall city can benefit.
This is why I know, with the support of the people, there’s no way I won’t win.
Talking about all these black issues won’t harm me when I’m speaking to the oppressed masses of this city, who have all been affected by this city one way or another, who want to see true positive change, who don’t want to live a good life at the expense of the black community.
Putting the black community at the center doesn’t kill the campaign, it builds it!
Gazi Kodzo: Jesse, how do you expect to win running against all this big money?
Jesse Nevel: We are up against the system. We're up against big, big money.
Kriseman is a rich man, and so is Rick Baker who might enter the race in May. And they’re in the pockets of the wealthy elite.
Both of these guys wake up everyday covered in big piles of corporate cash. Take a look at Kriseman’s donors. He’s already got nearly $300,000 raised for his campaign.
Who gave him that money? Real estate moguls, gentrification schemers, land grabbers––that’s his base.
The ones who are privatizing the waterfront by conquering downtown with high-rise condos. They pull the strings. I'm gonna cut those strings and cast them out.
If you ever wondered why Kriseman shut down the Albert Whitted sewage plant and started leaking sewage water into the black community last summer and then into the whole Tampa Bay, now you know.
Some real estate developers told him to shut that plant down so they could build some condos there, and he did their bidding.
That’s the truth of the matter. But their dependence on big money and corporate sponsors and the status quo––that is not strength, it is their ultimate weakness.
They cannot stand a chance against the rising wave of a righteous people’s movement, and that’s what we are about.
Gazi Kodzo: Thank you Akilé and Jesse for answering my questions. I will encourage everyone in St. Pete to register to vote and make sure to hit the polls on August 29th and vote for revolution!
Radical Times Call For Radical Solutions!
Unity Through Reparations!