Statement on the U.S. Government Attack on The African People’s Socialist Party

Statement from The Odessa Solidarity Campaign, April 20, 2023

The Odessa Solidarity Campaign, a project of the Virginia Defenders for Freedom, Justice & Equality, condemns in the strongest possible terms the April 18 federal indictments of three members of the Uhuru movement, one former member and three Russian nationals. 

Those indicted include Omali Yeshitela, the chairman and founder of the African People’s Socialist Party; Penny Joanne Hess and Jesse Nevel, who the indictment says “served as a member(s) of a component of the APSP;” as well as Augustus C. Romain Jr., also known as Gazi Kodzo, who left the APSP in 2018.

The Uhuru Movement describes itself as “a worldwide organization, under the leadership of African People’s Socialist Party, uniting African people as one people for liberation, social justice, self-reliance and economic development.

The APSP was founded by Chairman Yeshitela in 1972 and for more than 50 years has been an outspoken opponent of the oppression of African people everywhere, as well as a fierce opponent of U.S. wars of aggression. In the present period, it has opposed U.S. political and financial support for Ukraine in its current conflict with Russia.

Chairman Yeshitela was one of the speakers at the national protest against U.S. support for Ukraine held March 18 in Washington, D.C., an event that marked a turning point in the long decline in antiwar activity in this country. The APSP initiated the Black is Back antiwar coalition that is part of the United National Antiwar Coalition, one of the major organizers of the protest.

The indictments accuse the four U.S. citizens and three Russian nationals of “working on behalf of the Russian government and in conjunction with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) to conduct a multi-year foreign malign influence campaign in the United States,” according to a statement released by the U.S. Department of Justice. “Among other conduct, the superseding indictment alleges that the Russian defendants recruited, funded and directed U.S. political groups to act as unregistered illegal agents of the Russian government and sow discord and spread pro-Russian propaganda ….”

The APSP has vehemently denied the charges.

The indictments come eight months after FBI agents violently raided Chairman Yshitala’s home in St. Louis, Mo., as well as searching the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, Fla. They also come as public support in this country for Ukraine is slipping.

In the last year, the U.S. government has sent more than $116 billion to Ukraine, a country with an annual gross domestic product of $200 billion. At a time of growing economic uncertainty here at home, public support for sending Ukraine more money has fallen from 60 percent last May to 48 percent now. (The New York Times, March 1, 2023)

We believe this government attack on the APSP and the Uhuru Movement is meant to try and intimidate and promote hostility to those who would dare question the official narrative about the war in Ukraine.

The Justice Department statement admits as much: “All Americans should be deeply concerned by the tactics employed by the FSB and remain vigilant to any attempt to undermine our democracy. The FBI remains committed to confronting this egregious behavior and ultimately disrupting our adversaries and those who act on their behalf.”

For the past seven years, the Odessa Solidarity Campaign has been supporting the anti-fascist people of Ukraine. We know who is responsible for provoking the present war: the U.S. government, which supported if not directed the anti-Russian coup of 2014; NATO, which for more than 30 years has steadily expanded eastward to the very borders of Russia; U.S./NATO support for the neo-Nazi militias that have been fighting the people of the Donbass region since right after the coup; and all the  NATO member countries that have ignored Russia’s legitimate security concerns and its repeated calls to discuss those issues.

Eight months ago, as soon as we heard about the FBI raids on Uhuru homes and offices, the Odessa Solidarity Campaign reached out to the APSP to offer our support. We have written about the raids in The Virginia Defender newspaper and have sent a financial contribution to the organization’s legal defense fund.

Now that these indictments have come down, we will redouble our support efforts – as well as our unwavering opposition to U.S. and NATO war aims in Asia, Africa, Latin American and Eastern Europe.

Phil Wilayto
Founder & Coordinator, Odessa Solidarity Campaign
Editor, The Virginia Defender

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