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Burning Spear News

Florida governor, local NAACP unite with Uhuru against state attorney's "investigation" of police murder 

ST. PETERSBURG, FL — In an August 15 press conference — two days after Florida Governor Charlie Crist called for a review of an investigation conducted by State Attorney Bernie McCabe into the St. Petersburg police murder of 17-year-old Javon Dawson — Uhuru Movement Press Secretary Nyabinga Dzimbahwe made the following statement:

“We want to talk today about Governor Crist’s call for a review of the bogus investigation done by the office of State Attorney Bernie McCabe and what that means for the Justice for Javon Dawson Campaign.

“We say that Governor Crist’s call for a review is a victory in the struggle for justice for Javon Dawson, not because of any confidence in the Florida Department of Law Enforcement who he’s called on to do the review but because the governor’s call for a review of McCabe’s findings is itself an admission that McCabe’s ‘justifiable homicide’ decision is questionable. It is an admission that McCabe’s findings cannot be trusted standing on their own.

“But while Governor Crist’s call for a review might signal an admission of the injustice in the murder of Javon Dawson, it does not mean the same for the FDLE who he has called on to perform the review. So we demand that the review be a transparent process so that the public can view the process and make its own assessments of its validity.

“We also recognize that politics are playing a major role in this process. It was politics that played a role in the murder of Javon Dawson. Mayor Baker’s plan to extend downtown to 34th Street makes necessary the removal of the African community which uses the policy of police containment which brought the war-scarred sharp shooting Iraq war veteran Terrence Nemeth into this community to murder young Javon Dawson.

“The politics of Republican Bernie McCabe’s office that shares the same concerns as the Republican Mayor Rick Baker who has political aspirations plays a role. We even recognize the possibility that the political aspirations of the Republican Governor Charlie Crist to be Vice President on the Republican ticket influence his decisions.

“So our actions are influenced by our understanding of what influences his actions. As Governor Crist and John McCain are traveling around the country to win support for their campaign, we’ll also be sending Diop Olugbala around the country winning support for the Justice for Javon Dawson Campaign. You all may be familiar with Diop as the man who in the Uhuru Movement’s demonstration intervened in presidential candidate Barack Obama’s rally demanding he answer the question, “What about the black community.”

“We believe that as Governor Crist is traveling around the country to win support for his candidacy, people need to be aware that he is tied to this struggle here.”

Dzimbahwe then introduced Kobina Bantushango, the Uhuru Movement’s Southeastern U.S. representative who made known that the Uhuru Movement is calling for the establishment of an independent, community-based, police review board with subpoena powers. He stated that this is something that the city should unite with if the city and the police have nothing to hide.

Penny Hess, Chairwoman of the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC), followed Bantushango and announced the initiation of a campaign to make the city pay reparations to the family of Javon Dawson as well as those of Jarrell Walker, Marquell McCullough, and TyRon Lewis — all African teenagers murdered by either the St. Petersburg Police or the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department who were invited into the city by current police chief Charles Harmon after the previous police chief, Goliath Davis, had asked them to stay out of St. Petersburg jurisdiction because of their terroristic tactics against the African community.

When asked how the Uhuru Movement felt about the NAACP’s call for the federal government to investigate the case, Nyabinga Dzimbahwe replied, “We’re glad to see everyone — the governor and the NAACP — unite with what we’ve been saying about McCabe’s investigation not being able to be trusted.”

Pressured Florida governor calls for review of “justified” verdict in police murder of Javon Dawson 

TALLAHASSEE, FL — On Wednesday, August 13, the halls of the Florida governor’s office were filled with chants demanding justice for Javon Dawson, a 17-year-old African murdered by St. Petersburg policeman and battle-scarred, Iraq war veteran Terrance Nemeth on June 9.

The march to and demonstration at the governor’s office follows in a long process of political struggle led by the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee (JJDC) — a committee of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) — to win justice in the face of an “investigation” by State’s Attorney Bernie McCabe who has a history of giving a green light to police to murder African people.

In fact, McCabe has stamped every police murder of an African as “justified” since he’s been in office. The JJDC has been applying constant pressure on the State to have McCabe removed from the investigation on the grounds that McCabe enjoys an incestuous relationship with the police department whose officers are currently testifying for him in more than 100 cases.

Javon Dawson’s killer, Terrance Nemeth himself has testified for McCabe in more than 90 cases. Based on these facts, the JJDC argues that it is a conflict of interest for McCabe to then be responsible for investigating his collaborators, the St. Petersburg Police Department.

McCabe’s office attempts to preempt meeting with governor

The Justice for Javon Dawson Committee had held a press conference the preceding week announcing its intentions to go to Florida Governor Charlie Crist’s office to demand Bernie McCabe’s removal from the investigation based on conflict of interests. Subsequently, 3,000 signatures on a petition supporting the demand had been faxed to the governor’s office.

In a suspiciously preemptive move, McCabe announced a verdict justifying Terrance Nemeth’s murder of Javon Dawson just one day before the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee’s scheduled meeting with the governor. This verdict announcement was accompanied by an eight-page letter from McCabe’s office riddled with contradictions.

The evidence highlighted in the document contradicted the story of the police who claim Javon Dawson pointed a gun at killer cop Terrance Nemeth. The document claims that somehow gunpowder residue was supposedly found in Javon’s pocket while Nemeth’s testimony says Javon dropped the gun after he killed him making it impossible for him to have placed it in his pocket. It also glosses over the fact that no gunpowder residue was found on Javon’s hands. It ignored the fact that the only testimony from the crowd of more than 200 people present that said Javon even had a gun was that of killer cop Terrance Nemeth. These and other numerous contradictions in the document pointed to a cover-up.

Florida governor calls for review

Despite the state attorney’s attempts to preempt the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee’s demonstration and meeting at the Florida governor’s office with the verdict announcement, Uhuru organizers were determined to continue. Demonstrators marched to the governor’s office and delivered 1,700 more signatures demanding an independent investigation.

After JJDC members met with the Florida governor’s chief of staff, they emerged from the office with a copy of a letter faxed to Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey calling for a review of the state attorney’s investigation.

State Attorney Bernie McCabe was upset stating, “It’s never happened before and I don’t know why it’s being done now.”

While the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee recognized the review into the state attorney’s investigation a victory, its representatives made clear that the struggle for justice for Javon Dawson does not end with this review and that despite its initiation, the Uhuru Movement will continue to organize and struggle in the streets for justice.

For more information on this case or to contact the Justice for Javon Dawson Committee go to www.inpdum.org or call 727-821-6620

Uhuru organizer speaks out on why the struggle with Obama 

On Friday, August 1st I led a contingent of the Uhuru Movement into Barack Obama’s town hall meeting in St. Petersburg, Florida to raise the question, “what about the black community, Obama?” Without the benefit of a big media budget, our organization attempted to bring the serious issues experienced by African working class people across this country into the national political debate.

These issues include the targeting of African and Latino communities with predatory “sub-prime” mortgages – a scheme that has made millions for people like Obama’s chief financial advisor Penny Pritzker, while stripping black families of billions of dollars, the greatest loss of wealth our community has suffered since being brought in chains to this country. We also challenged Obama to take a stand against the police shootings of unarmed African people, and explain why he has publicly defended the judge’s acquittal of the NYC police who murdered Sean Bell.

He has said that he cannot speak out on behalf of those who have been historically oppressed for fear of offending other people. Yet in Miami, he promised the Jewish community, which considers itself a historically oppressed community, that he supports turning all of Jerusalem over to Israeli control, despite the internationally enforced sharing of that city with the Palestinians. When Obama speaks to black audiences, he attacks us, attributing our community’s poverty, not to systemic oppression, but to bad culture and lack of work ethic.

Barack Obama has criticized African fathers for abandoning our children, although a recent study showed that black fathers stay more involved with their children after a split from the mother than white fathers. And Obama says nothing of the unjust imprisonment of 1 in 9 black men of child-bearing age, the overwhelming majority of whom are locked up on minor drug or other non-violent economic violations stemming from conditions of desperate poverty. He has failed to achieve any meaningful program of economic development for the African community. In speaking to a group of black legislators, Obama said “a good economic development plan for our community would be if we make sure folks weren’t throwing their garbage out of their cars.”

Barack Obama wants to increase military spending and praised Clinton for abolishing AFDC and welfare. He has reversed his position opposing the death penalty and speaks out against reparations. He wants to escalate the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and has threatened Venezuela and Iran with military aggression. He has upheld the FISA, supporting wire-tapping and government spying on citizens. He receives unprecedented financial backing from Wall Street. His close advisors and potential cabinet members include war criminal Richard Clarke, Tri-lateral commission founder Zbigniev Brzezinski, Madeleine ‘it’s worth the price of 1 million dead Iraqi children’ Albright, and Free Trade advocates Jason Furman and Austan Goolsbee.

Some argue that we must support Obama or else we are supporting McCain. We in the Uhuru Movement don’t believe our community should restrict our political options to a choice between one white ruling class party or another. In fact, the black community’s most recent experiences in the U.S. electoral arena have resulted not only in the Republican Party’s theft of our votes, but prior to that we suffered some of the worst attacks on our community at the hands of the Democratic Party administration of William Jefferson Clinton, who put 100,000 more police on our streets to murder our people, privatized the prisons to exploit our unpaid labor, and discontinued the public subsidies for impoverished children and families that had been won by African people as a concession to our movement of the 1960s.

African people’s experiences with these last several elections and the desperate conditions facing our community have created a willingness by our people to seek independent political alternatives. In response to this crisis, the white rulers put forward Barack Obama – a pied piper taking African people back into clutches of the Democratic Party. If anyone looks seriously at the positions, programs and advisors of Barack Obama, they will see that he does not stand for any kind of real change, but for the defense of the same old status quo, with a new face. America is in an economic crisis and the white ruling class hopes to save itself by deepening the exploitation of African people in the U.S. and on the continent of Africa, where the world’s biggest reserves of oil and precious minerals lie. How better to do it than with an African face at the head of state?

Our success as a people requires that we achieve our own independent political agenda. African people’s votes should be contingent on the willingness of a candidate to support and fight for that agenda. The International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement has invited Barack Obama, John McCain and Cynthia McKinney to attend our annual convention on September 27-28 in St. Petersburg, Florida to clarify their position on the question, “what about the black community?’ Based on their response, we will consider endorsement of a U.S. presidential candidate.

Diop Olugbala is the International Organizer for the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement

www.inpdum.org

"What about the black community, Obama?" 

ST. PETERSBURG, FL — On Friday, August 1, the Barack Obama presidential campaign hit a serious bump in a St. Petersburg, Florida town hall meeting as members of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) challenged Obama on his unwillingness to speak to the interests of the African community.

While demonstrators outside chanted “Obama, McCain, its the same game,” InPDUM members inside raised a banner that read “What about the black community, Obama?”

InPDUM International Organizer Diop Olugbala challenged Obama asking, “In the face of the numerous attacks that are made against the African community or the black community by the same U.S. government that you aspire to lead — and we are talking about attacks like the subprime mortgage that you spoke of that wasn't just a general ambiguous kind of phenomena, but a phenomena that targeted the African community and Latino community; attacks like the killing of Sean Bell by the New York police department and Javon Dawson right here in St. Petersburg by the St. Petersburg police, and Jena 6 and Hurricane Katrina, and the list goes on. In the face of all these attacks that are clearly being made on the African community, why is it that you have not had the ability to not one time speak to the interests and even speak on the behalf of the oppressed and exploited African community or black community in this country?”

After stammering, Obama made the claim that he had addressed all of those issues with public statements, but that he just may not have spoken out in the way desired.

It is well known that he did make a statement after the acquittals of the police who pumped 50 bullets into Sean Bell’s car on his wedding day stating that the unjust verdict needed to be respected.

On the U.S. government’s leaving African people for days to die after Hurricane Katrina he stated on September 6, 2005, “I do not subscribe to the notion that the painfully slow response of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security was racially-based. The ineptitude was colorblind.”

Obama was right that he had not spoken to these issues as would be desired. While he may have conceded that the subprime loans were predatory, he has failed to condemn Penny Pritzker, his national finance advisor, for having made a fortune through the subprime mortgage scheme at the expense of Africans and Latinos.

In fact, Obama’s painting the U.S. as some place on the verge of a “post-racial” society with “race problems” being “90 percent” solved, his opposition to reparations for African people and his liquidating the colonial relationship that African people in the U.S. are held in are disarming. His role as a pied piper — leading African people who are disenchanted with the inability of the U.S. electoral process to provide any solution for them right back to the Democratic Party — is problematic for African people.

His role is one that works against African people’s struggle for self-determination — the loss of which was necessary for the building and maintaining of the United States of America.

The question for African people cannot be confined to whom to vote for in a bourgeois election where freedom and self-determination for African people will never be on the ballot. The question instead must be one of what must be done to win self-determination.

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