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Burning Spear News

The evaporation of African neighborhoods in St. Pete

Sep 5, 2020


African businesses and homes are disappearing from our cities while the white ruling class flourishes.

St. Petersburg, Florida was once filled with self-sufficient, money-making, economically independent African neighborhoods. Today, all that’s left of that labor are shrinking b lack communities trying to stay afloat through the swells of gentrification and misdirected money.

The pier takes priority over the people

With an original budget of $50 million, the city of St. Petersburg spent $92 million on reconstructing a 26-acre waterfront pier in an attempt to rebrand the city and attract tourism. A consulting firm, hired by the city, predicts the pier will draw in $80 million in its first year, ultimately funding downtown white neighborhoods while b lack neighborhoods continue to be neglected.

The money for the pier was up for debate in 2017 when the Director of Agitation and Propaganda Akilé Anai ran for District 6 City Council and USM Chair Jesse Nevel ran as a mayoral candidate. Their focus was “an agenda based on true progress, based on social and economic justice,” Anai stated.

There are black people in St. Petersburg who are impoverished and barely surviving. The pier is a millionaire’s playground. This is not progress.

Despite dying black communities and even local pushback for going over budget, m ayor Rick Kriseman built the pier. “There was an intention to create a place that was welcoming to everyone in the community, that it didn’t matter where you lived, it didn’t matter what your income was, you could come here and experience it and enjoy it, ” Kriseman is quoted as saying.

This statement by Kriseman is a huge contradiction to the reality of the pier, which had 20 cop cars sitting in front on opening night — an allusive unwelcoming statement to the local b lack community. “White people were thanking the police for being there”, reports USM comrade Allie Aiello, who did reparations outreach to white people that night.

White people there agreed with Mayor Kriseman in that the pier will bring money to the community through tourism and jobs. Most people don’t see that this money will continue to fund an already economically and socially stable white community.

This perpetuates the two distinct Americas of the colonizer and the colonized.

St. Pete’s history of empty promises

St. Pete has previously made unfulfilled promises to the black community. In 1979, the city voted to demolish the historically-black Gas Plant district with the Tropicana Field—a huge dome made for a Major League Baseball team that hadn’t even existed yet.

The city promised affordable housing and new jobs. The displaced Africans never received a dime from any jobs or for relocation. As Chairman Omali Yeshitela said, “They lied to the black community and said they were going to take your property, your livelihood, your ability to have a living and give you some light industry jobs there. They lied.”

Now that the team’s contract is up, the huge dome sits empty on that stolen land. The Chairman and the African community want their land back.

The self-proclaimed progressive, “innovative and forward thinking” city continues to prioritize the white ruling class by giving away the stolen money, land and labor of the African working class.

As Chairman Omali said, “We want the land back. We want reparations that will create an economic capacity of black people there. We want a real introduction to economic development and self-reliance.”

Reparations now!

Build dual and contending power!

Unity with the African working class!

 

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