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Burning Spear News

Defend Isaiah Battle from Tampa Bay Times' criminalization and libel!

Aug 16, 2017
Kalonda Mulamba, African People's Socialist Party

ST. PETERSBURG, FL––With the discussion of Donald Trump and his defense of white nationalism, our people are focusing on neo-nazis, the KKK and alt-right but the real faces of white nationalism are right in front of us. 

White nationalists include the politicians that set policies and laws to criminalize and occupy black communities, the police who murder us in the streets, as well as the media who depict us as violent, subhuman criminals.

Falling in the latter group are reporters Lisa Gartner (@lisagartner) and Zachary T. Sampson (@zackthompson) of the Tampa Bay Times @tampabaytimes. In there attempt to uphold white power and white nationalism, they wrote a callous article entitled “Wrong Way:  At 15 Isaiah Battle was the County’s No. 1 car thief. He had every reason to stop.” 

The piece is defamatory to say the least, and centers around a 16-year-old child, Isaiah, whose sister, Dominique Battle, and her two friends Laniyah and Ashaunti were drowned to death after being chased by the Pinellas County Sheriff's office (PSCO) last year.

Not only did they murder three young black girls, but over 19 PCSO deputies stood idly by and watched them drown all while laughing and joking amongst each other. Many would not believe the previous statement if it weren’t caught on police dash cam video.

Defamation of a child to uphold white power

To add insult to injury, reporters Gartner and Sampson did not even have the ethical integrity to contact Isaiah’s mother, Kundé Mwamvita, and receive permission to interview her son.

In fact, they knowingly misled Kundé, they approached her for a statement for their article, but hid from her that her own son would be the topic of discussion.

They conducted and unethical interview of a minor and manipulated Isaiah to make statements about events in Kundé and Dominique’s life that were untrue.

In the piece, the reporters lied and inferred that Kundé knew about their article and declined to comment, which is an unequivocally false.

The reporters even claimed they received “permission” from Isaiah’s attorney at the Pinellas County Public Defender but we have spoken to Isaiah’s attorney who was adamant that he did not give permission for the reporters to speak with his client. 

We do know that the Pinellas County Sherriff’s Office, the entity that runs the detention center where Isaiah is currently held captive, is the only entity with the ability to give access to detainees. Again, the PCSO is using its power to derail the Three Drowned Black Girls (3DBG) campaign and in the word of Kundé, they are afraid that “what [was] done in the dark coming will come to the light.”

White power No. 1 thief of African resources!

On top of the dishonesty in conducting research for the article, Gartner and Sampson crossed even more lines throughout this defamatory piece itself.

The Tampa Bay Times called Isaiah the “No. 1 car thief” in Pinellas County. I ask, how can this be the case when Isaiah was never convicted of car theft and was only accused of such and arrested? Is it because young black children are not afforded due process and considered “guilty until proven innocent” under this system of colonialism? I think so. This statement is blatantly libelous.

When it comes to white children, however, they are always innocent until proven guilty, and even after the guilty verdict is made, they are not treated as such.

The Times can label young Isaiah a thief but cannot even begin to acknowledge that this country was founded on the theft of African people, the theft of African labor and the theft of Indigenous people’s land––i.e.: colonialism. 

Specifically, the black community in St. Petersburg, Florida literally built the city. We drained the swamps, cleared the brush and built the homes so this city could be gentrified and turned into a tourist town by parasitic capitalists. The black community was used to serve white beach goers and white retirees waiting to die. 

One of the most striking examples is the building of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball stadium through the vibrant African community, this destroyed black economic development and robbed the black community of its resources.

This led to high poverty rates within the community leaving Isaiah and many other African children forced to wonder why they are resigned to a life of poverty while white teenagers get to enjoy cars, clothes and wealth as their birthright. 

Ironically, the Rays are seeking a new stadium as city leaders scramble to keep their team in St. Petersburg but there is no discussion of reparations for the black community who have had their community demolished for white people to watch a baseball game.

Attack on Kundé and her children is an Attack on the black community!

Gartner and Simpson depicted 16-year-old Isaiah as a hardened criminal, and they abhorrently depicted his sister Dominique, who was ultimately killed by deputy sheriffs, as a car thief who well deserved her death sentence. 

After a press conference held on March 31, 2017, marking the one-year anniversary of murder of Dominique and her two friends, attorneys for the three drowned black girls specifically spoke with Zack Thompson stating their intent to sue the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. 

They also informed him that the car the girls were murdered in was not a stolen vehicle and that the girls were, in fact, escaping from a child sex predator. But of course the truth did not fit Thompson’s white nationalist narrative for his series “Hot Wheels…” used to criminalize black children as car thieves. 

But it wasn’t enough for the reporters to criminalize dead black teenagers and a teenage black boy. They took it even a step lower and painted Kundé as a bad mother. They have no problem attacking the mothering skills of a black woman who has had so many offences enacted against her at the hands of the State.

Kundé is the victim here, as well as her children who are being attacked by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. The attack on Kundé, Isaiah and Dominique are ultimately attacks on the black community used absolve the white population and city leaders to deal with the exploitation and poverty in the black community.

White bourgeois press only serves the ruling class!

Based on what was outlined above, it is already clear that these reporters and the Tampa Bay Times editorial board has no journalistic integrity. But there’s more.

They have wen’t as far as to illegally obtained Isaiah’s juvenile records which they then illegally shared to the public. This is a full violation of Florida’s Statute on juvenile records.

As stated in their article, the reporters went through a painstaking process to match court records in order to criminalize black children, yet refuse to conduct any investigation into the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. 

They refuse to investigate how the Pinellas County Public Schools that receive over a billion dollars a year in funding have the worst outcomes for black students of any place in the country. Where is the exposé on why these resources are being squandered?

Additionally, where is the article condemning the 19 deputies for standing around and joking while Dominique, Laniyah and Ashaunti could be heard screaming for help as they sank and drowned? Where is the article condemning Howard Skaggs who led the chase of the three girls and was also responsible for the murder of Laboriel Felton in 2002?

Where is the article scathing Sheriff Bob Gualtieri for dragging a black motorist out of her car by her hair because he was cut off in traffic?

Where is the article criticizing the Pinellas County Sheriff's Corporal Shawn Pappas for having pornography and anti-African and homophobic memes on his phone and criticizing the PCSO for allowing him to resign without an investigation?

Where is the story about the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office that is still under a consent decree by the Justice Department since 1994?

Where is the story about the three black boys who were chased by the police and died in a fiery blaze? Where is the story about Alton Whichard who was shot in his back and killed by PCSO?

They have access to this information because we have shared it all with the Tampa Bay Times but they are not interested in justice and black people being killed by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. 

White nationalism must go!

This is white nationalism, protecting a status quo that criminalizes black children and blames the black community for their own poverty. Just the same as was on display in Charlottesville but instead of tiki torches they use their pens instead.

This same white nationalism in the form of the Tampa Bay Times attacks the revolutionary campaigns of Eritha Akilé Cainion who is running for District 6 City Council under the slogan “Radical Times Call for Radical Solutions” and Jesse Nevel who is running for Mayor of St. Petersburg, FL under the slogan of “Unity Through Reparations.”

These campaigns have shaken that the white ruling class to the core with the demands for black community control of the police and reparations to the African community.

If we elected to candidates like Jesse and Eritha, Isaiah and other African youth would not have to reclaim their stolen resources by allegedly stealing cars.

Attorneys for Kundé will be sending the Tampa Bay Times a cease and desist order and will be suing the Tampa Bay Times for defamation and would like everyone to call, tweet and message the the reporters and Tampa Bay Times to tell them to retract the article and issue a written apology to the Isaiah Battle, his mother Kundé Mwamvita, the families of Laniyah Miller and Ashanti Butler and the black community in the county. 

Tampa Bay Times:  

727-892-2231

 

Peter Tash, CEO

Tel: 727-893-8887

Fax: 727-892-2328

E-mail: [email protected]

 

Lisa Gartner

[email protected]

@lisagartner

 

Zachary T. Sampson

[email protected]

@zacksampson

727 893 8804

 

Dirk Shadd

[email protected]

@dirkshadd

 

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