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Burning Spear News

Why the FBI attacked us: Meet the targeted "unindicted co-conspirators"

Dec 7, 2022


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 to lead the Party's media and communications work, 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. Today she continues to provide leadership for the information, education, media relations and communication apparatuses of the Uhuru Movement, including in her role as Editor-in-Chief for The Burning Spear newspaper.

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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