Chairman Omali Yeshitela, Uhuru 3 Put State on tTrial in Fightback Against Bogus Charges

by Penny Hess, published on Uhuru Solidarity, March, 29, 2024

We are known as the Uhuru 3!

In yet another political attack by the U.S. government against the African Liberation Movement, African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) Chairman Omali Yeshitela and two members of the Party’s Solidarity Front are currently under federal indictment and facing 15 years in prison on the basis of our constitutionally protected speech advocating for freedom, reparations and justice for African people. A trial date is set for September 3, 2024 in the federal court in Tampa, FL.

As part of the attack on the Chairman, Jesse Nevel, 34, Chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement and myself, 78, Chair of the African People’s Solidarity Committee are also under indictment as two leaders of the Party’s solidarity committee tasked with winning white solidarity with and reparations for Uhuru Movement anti-colonial economic development programs for the African community.

Chairman Omali Yeshitela and the Uhuru 3 are completely innocent of these bogus charges revolving solely around the exercise of the U.S. government’s supposed guarantees to First Amendment rights—rights that black people, more than anyone, fought and died for—rights which are rarely afforded to African people in practice.

The indictments of the Uhuru 3 constitute a test case for the U.S. government. If Chairman Yeshitela is convicted in this political attack, free speech as we know it in this country will no longer exist for anyone.

As one of the attorneys of the Uhuru legal team stated, “If the government convicts Chairman Omali Yeshitela in this case, they will be able to go after any speech by any person at any time.” Indictments of the Uhuru 3 followed 2022 pre-dawn, military FBI raids

In the wake of violent pre-dawn raids on seven homes and offices of the Uhuru Movement by assault-rifle-toting FBI agents on July 29, 2022, Chairman Yeshitela, Jesse and I were indicted on false charges the following February, 2023.

An army of militarily-attired FBI agents with assault rifles violently raided the home of Chairman Omali Yeshitela and Deputy Chair Ona Zené Yeshitela in North St. Louis, handcuffing both of them.

A video of the raids is available on the Hands Off Uhuru website.

As a result of the indictments the presumption of innocence has been openly overturned and the State has taken our passports away; we are forced to make weekly calls to a pretrial officer (PO) and are restricted to St. Louis county, with travel outside the area requiring submission of full itinerary, plane tickets and housing plans for approval by the government.

We are being charged with a violation of statute 18 U.S.C. § 371–”conspiring to commit an offense against the United States and acting as an agent of a foreign government and foreign officials, to wit, the Russian federation.., without prior notification to the attorney general, as required by law, in violation of 18 USC 951(a).”

The use of the 951(a) statute requiring registration as a foreign agent, has been used rarely for indictments in the past 80 years since its adoption into law and exposes the U.S. government’s desperation and lack of any real evidence against the Party. 951(a) has usually been cited in cases of paid lobbyists and those accused of espionage. Ours is a dangerous exception where it is used only for speech by African people fighting for justice, including reparations.

The indictment ridiculously asserts that Chairman Omali Yeshitela who has been a leading force in the African Liberation Movement since the 1960s suddenly became an agent of Russia in 2014. The Chairman’s visits to Russia on two occasions is part of the Party’s strategy to win international support for the struggle for African Liberation.

In 1977 Chairman Omali Yeshitela laid out the Party’s “Tactics and Strategy for African Liberation” which included among other things the goal of winning as broad of support as possible for the right of African people in the U.S. to win their political independence. It includes winning support from African organizations inside the U.S., from white people and from international forces.

Over the years the Chairman has traveled many places winning international support for black liberation, including to colonially-occupied Ireland, France and England; Nicaragua, Suriname, Spain and many other places. The Chairman has spoke before masses of Palestinian people many times over the years and expressed the support and unity from the African Liberation Movement; he has built long standing relationships with the Indigenous people, including the Mexican/Indigenous population of this country. The visits to Russia are in this context.

These charges are racist and rob the Chairman and the African Liberation Movement of their own agency. It is as if the Chairman suddenly woke up one morning without his voice and was no longer able to see the brutal colonial conditions under which African people survive daily in this country. No African person living in the colonial hell of the U.S. needs a “white” person, Russian or otherwise, to tell them what they experience every day.

The Chairman went to Russia to influence an international conference to support the agenda of African Liberation, as opposed to any prevailing expression of “anti-racist” pity.

The Motion to Dismiss was denied by the magistrate in January 2024

A brilliant Motion to Dismiss the Uhuru 3 case was presented by Attorney Leonard Goodman, of the joint Uhuru Legal Team in the Middle District court of Florida in September 2023. The motion makes it clear that the indictment is a pure political attack with the “crime” being nothing more than the Party’s constitutionally-protected speech. The motion was denied in January 2024 and as of this time the Uhuru 3 are facing trial with no date set as of yet.

The U.S. government has also denied the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed for each one of us to release all records of surveillance which would be important to our trial. The State has flatly denied the requests for Jesse Nevel’s files, has ignored the requests for my files and stated that the surveillance files on Chairman Omali Yeshitela would take five years to release.

The fact that the colonial state ruled to deny this motion flies in the face of the 50 year plus history of struggle, political analysis and organizing by the Party laid out in the Motion to Dismiss, which states in part:

“The African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) was founded in 1972 by Defendant Omali Yeshitela… The APSP supports the rights of African people throughout the world to be free from colonialism, described as ‘a condition of existence where a whole people is oppressively dominated by a foreign and alien state power for the purpose of economic exploitation and political advantage.’ The APSP believes that all black people are African people and are a part of a single national entity. It believes that the ‘vast resources of Africa’ belong to the African people and not to Western colonizers. It also advocates free speech and political association, a guarantee of the right to work for the betterment and emancipation of black people without fear of political imprisonment and the loss of life, limb, and livelihood.”

The decades of freedom struggle led by Chairman Yeshitela and the African People’s Socialist Party are documented on the pages of The Burning Spear newspaper and archived since 1968, exposing the falsehood of these manufactured charges by the U.S. state whose sole function is to enforce the colonial oppression of African and oppressed peoples.

The fictional “overt acts” (a legal term for criminal actions or intent to commit acts) listed in the indictment include a “reparations tour” and a petition against genocide that the state deceptively claims were carried out at the behest of the “Russian government.”

We should also note that the FBI/colonial state counterinsurgency indictments also include insidious and gratuitous attacks such as the closure of bank accounts tied to the work of Uhuru Movement institutions and programs. See the fightback against Regions Bank.

Earlier in July 2022, just prior to the July 29 raids, the Uhuru House–which for thirty years was the national headquarters of the African People’s Socialist Party–was attacked when the massive African flag hanging from a 50-foot high flagpole was torched by someone with a military grade flame thrower.

Broad worldwide support for the Party through the Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! Campaign

Immediately following the brutal July 29, 2022 FBI-police raids on our homes and centers, the Chairman began mobilizing mass support with a press conference covered by the local St. Louis Fox News station, which now has been viewed by 750K people. Other organizations jumped into action as well including the December 12 (D-12) Organization which held an emergency press conference within a few days with numerous organizations in Brooklyn, NY.

In August 2022, the Chairman formed the dynamic popular organizational response with the Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! Committee which by the summer of 2023 had morphed into the Hands Off Uhuru Fightback Coalition with the participation and support of scores of organizations and individuals.

Dynamically chaired by Mwezi Odom, the coalition has enabled literally millions of people around the world to learn about this colonially inspired case. We have relentlessly held countless public meetings, tours and events, raising just over $260,000 for legal expenses and winning support across the political spectrum from hundreds of groups and individuals.

The Chairman and the Uhuru 3 have been interviewed and covered by a broad range of media sources from Democracy Now!, to Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald. He or other Party members have spoken at mass actions such as an anti-war mobilization of the ANSWER Coalition and the Rage Against the War Machine March and Rally in Washington D.C. in 2023 and most importantly at the November 4, 2023 Black People’s March on the White House that was supported by Fightback actions held in Los Angeles and several cities in Europe and Africa. A wealth of information and scores of media interviews, legal documents, photos and articles are constantly updated on the Hands Off Uhuru website.

Attorney Lauren Regan of the Civil Liberties Defense Center in Eugene, Oregon worked with the Uhuru Movement to assemble a brilliant legal team made up of attorneys Ade Griffin, Leonard Goodman, Mutaqee Akbar, Angela Raemey and Tom Inskeep, among others who have taken on this fight under the political and strategic leadership of Chairman Omali Yeshitela.

The Coalition counts among its hundreds of members, supporters, donors and friends from across the political spectrum New York City Councilman Charles Barron, the National Lawyers Guild, Professor Robin Kelley, revolutionary Professor and author Ward Churchill, lead attorney for political prisoner Leonard Peltier, Jenipher Jones, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, as well as Green Party chapters from several states; Reparations activist Kamm Howard, Civil Rights Attorney and former SNCC activist Efia Nwangaza, donor Fergie Chambers, IFCO, Institute of Black World, the Hands Off Cuba Coalition, Venceremos Brigade, Center for Political Innovation, Americans for Peace and Human Rights and so many more.

Chairman Omali Yeshitela is under attack for building African-workers institutions of power

In the wake of the sweeping U.S. government assassinations, political imprisonments and attacks on the Black Revolution of the 1960s, Chairman Omali Yeshitela, if convicted, in his 80s would be forced to spend the remainder of his life in prison–a death sentence– solely for expressing his ideas that black people in the U.S., Africa and elsewhere have the right to freedom, reparations, human dignity and self-determination with the return of their stolen land and resources of Africa.

Chairman Yeshitela is under attack based on his 60 year history of African community organizing around the world and building numerous institutions for political and economic power for the African working class.

The Party’s Black Power Blueprint project in the impoverished North St. Louis black community is one example of this work to build dual and contending black power. This magnificent project, one of the more than 50 economic programs led by the Deputy Chair of the Party, Ona Zené Yeshitela, includes a community garden, event space with a 50-foot flagpole floating a 25-foot African flag, as well as a basketball court, a doula training program, housing, training and employment for prisoners returning to the community from the colonial prison system and much more. Most of the institutions now line West Florissant Ave. and have transformed a community known for condemned buildings, absence of economic life due to the city of St. Louis’ “let it rot” policies over many years in relation to the African community.

The attack on the Chairman and Party is U.S. counterinsurgency

The case of the Uhuru 3 bears the U.S. government’s handprint of counterinsurgency, the war against the African people to attempt to prevent them from struggling for their freedom. One of the main secret police counterinsurgent programs used against the African liberation movement has been COINTELPRO.

The Uhuru Movement has indications that these attacks, issued from the highest echelons of the U.S. government, including from the offices of U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland and U.S. President Biden and are vain attempts designed to crush the leading organization of the African Liberation Movement.

According to the documents from the U.S. senate Church hearings of the 1970s, the goal of the FBI COINTELPRO program in the 1960s was to discredit and neutralize organizations considered subversive to U.S. political stability.

According to findings of the Church hearings: “The Bureau conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of First Amendment rights of speech and association, on the theory that preventing the growth of dangerous groups and the propagation of dangerous ideas would protect the national security and deter violence.”—a statement that sounds like its right out of our indictment.”

The Church Committee hearings also revealed that one of the targets of COINTELPRO in the 1960s was the Junta of Militant Organizations (JOMO), a leading Black Power organization founded and led by Chairman Omali Yeshitela, proving that the U.S. government’s surveillance of the Chairman predated the bogus “Russian conspiracy” charges by over 50 years.

The 1966 FBI/COINTELPRO documents stated that the U.S. government sees African people as the greatest “internal threat to internal security of the country.”

Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Fred Hampton were assassinated—gunned down by the U.S. government for speaking the message of black freedom, and scores of others such as Sundiata Acoli and Mutulu Shakur were locked up for their entire lives.

This federal indictment faced by the Uhuru 3 targets what has generally  been recognized as  legally protected speech, unless advocating for the rights and interests of U.S. colonial subjects. It challenges the fundamental right of the oppressed to advocate and organize for their freedom which is the basis for all expression of freedom of speech in this country. An open attack on the speech of Africans and other colonized peoples that uses the constitution and the law as its basis is also a de facto assault on the “rights” of everyone, including white people.

Indictments are attack on the African Liberation Movement and understandings of the colonial mode of production

The attack on the Party exposes the reality of colonialism of African and oppressed peoples right here inside the stolen borders of the United States, where there are two realities–one for the colonized and the other for the colonizer.

The journal The Economist reported in 2019 that “the mean of black household wealth is $138,200—for whites, that number is $933,700,” in a country where Black people are killed by police at a rate that is 3.5 times higher than white people. In 2021, black people accounted for 27% of those fatally shot and killed by police, even though they only make up 13% of the U.S. population.

These are conditions that Chairman Yeshitela has defined as the colonial mode of production. This is the understanding that African and Indigenous people are colonized inside the U.S. and that colonialism is not just a bad policy from the past but constitutes the very fabric of the social system—the DNA of this social system. Everything that is produced in this society and every idea that is expressed is the result of an entire edifice of a society resting on a foundation of slavery, genocide and the occupation of a whole people by a foreign and alien state power.

Even the U.S.-controlled United Nations has resolved that, “All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

They try to rob African people and the African liberation movement of their own agency.

They negate the historic demands for African Liberation that date back centuries, from the victorious Haitian Revolution of 1804, to courageous struggles led by Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman or Frederick Douglas, to Marcus Garvey and his worldwide movement of eleven million African people, to the Black Panther Party, Malcolm X, the more than 50 years of courageous struggle by Chairman Yeshitela himself, and so many other African patriots who fought and often gave their lives for liberation in the past.

Since he was in his 20s, Chairman Yeshitela has always fought for power in the hands of African people, saying “Black people everywhere just want to be free, happy, self-determining. We have spent the last 600 years under colonial domination, producing and reproducing life and resources for others. It is time we produce for ourselves and regain our stolen land of Africa and benefit from our stolen labor.”

For 60 years Chairman Yeshitela has tirelessly organized, written, and spoken his positive, optimistic message of African liberation throughout the U.S., Europe, Africa and the Caribbean that African people have a right to be free; to be self-governing, self-determining; to have the return of their stolen homeland, their resources and their stolen labor. To be happy and live free of the daily oppression and terror that black people in this country, in Africa and the world face daily. Africans produce for the colonizers. No running water is because that water is being diverted to Europe, London, etc.

This is the colonial mode of production. There is no isolated, pure or pristine way in which things and wealth are produced other than through colonial violence and occupation.

Chairman Omali has stated that wherever African people are located in the world they are poor and oppressed; that African people are one people “forcibly dispersed throughout the world.”

African people, he says, are colonized, the domination of a whole people by a foreign and alien state–and therefore powerless, because this country, this economy, this system was built at their expense.

Everywhere African people are, they are shot down by the police and amassed into prisons; their babies die in the first year of life, not just in Africa but here in the U.S. with the allegedly the best medical system in the world; they have second rate housing and education. They are powerless and separated from their homeland Africa which is still being occupied and looted today.

Chairman Yeshitela states that African people have a right to be free and happy, self-determining and in possession of the value of their stolen labor, land and resources.

We fight for the right to stand in solidarity and fight for reparations to African people.

I am a white woman who has spent the past 47 years working in the white community as a member and chair of the African People’s Solidarity Committee (APSC), the Solidarity Front of the African People’s Socialist Party under the leadership of Chairman Omali Yeshitela. Founded by the Party in September 1976, the work of APSC is to build a movement of white people who actively stand for and contribute to reparations to African people in the form of donations and support for the Black Power programs of the Party.

I am proud to stand alongside my comrade Jesse Nevel, the Chair of our mass organization, the Uhuru Solidarity Movement and hundreds of members in more than a hundred cities in the U.S., as well as the powerful, committed comrades of the African People’s Solidarity Committee around the U.S.

The solidarity movement has played an important role in forwarding the Chairman’s commitment made in 1982 to “make reparations a household word” following the Party’s World Tribunal on Reparations to African People, held at a time when few were familiar with the term.

While the daily news is replete with genocide, colonial terror and war, random violence, mass killings, homelessness, injustice, fraud and crimes of the wealthy, the Uhuru Movement stands for reparations, justice and the right of African (black) working class people in the U.S., Africa and around the world to be free, self-determining and liberated.

The Chairman’s vision of a free and liberated Africa and a self-governing African people provides a positive view of a future for everyone–a future without colonialism, capitalism, war, poverty, genocide and slavery.

This is a future of happiness that will unleash the vast potential for the genius, creativity and humanity of African workers, Indigenous and once oppressed peoples to be the dominant spirit on a peaceful, healthy, united planet. An end to the profit motive where no one lives at the expense of someone else, where the Earth itself can flourish free of the environmental destruction inherent in the colonial mode of production.

This is why I have remained in the movement for nearly 50 years. I cannot stand by while African people in this country and around the world continue to face the hell of colonial domination, poverty and repression when there is an African organization dedicated and passionately committed to overturning the legacy of the vicious colonial system.

The APSP has opened the door for white people to unite with the Black Liberation Movement in a principled way by taking responsibility for our historic complicity and participation in colonialism, slavery, and terror against African people and recognizing that our true, long-term interests as human beings are in solidarity with African people, not at their expense.

It is a matter of historical record that during the hundred years of lynchings in this country in which thousands of African people were brutally murdered by white mobs in broad daylight, no white person was ever indicted by the U.S. government for participation in these murders. But now, for the first time in history, Chairman Omali Yeshitela has organized white people to join under the leadership of the African Liberation Movement, the U.S. government indicts two Uhuru Solidarity leaders as part of the Uhuru 3!

I am fighting for my right for the freedom to stand up for reparations to African people. This vicious colonial state attack will not silence the Solidarity Front of the Party that is growing with new members daily.

We will win! We are winning!

Under the leadership of the vanguard Party of the African working class and the brilliant leadership of Chairman Omali Yeshitela we are confident that we will win this case.

The attacks by the colonial state represent the dying but not yet dead parasitic tapeworm, blood stained system built on the bodies of African, Indigenous, Palestinian and oppressed peoples of the world.

The Party has built the Hands Off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! Fightback Coalition which has fought fiercely to push back the state in unity with countless supporters, member organizations and other oppressed and colonized peoples around the world.

We are winning. We will win! Venceremos!

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