United States: Two barrels aim at African People's Socialist Party

Members and supporters of the APSP following the raids in St Louis, Missouri. Photo: APSP

With new United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department of “Justice” (DOJ) expected to attack the African People's Socialist Party (APSP) in early January, a defense, mobilisation and information webinar was held on December 23, attracting hundreds of APSP allies.

At the “Emergency mass meeting”, the APSP told its supporters that it expects indictments in early January and possibly sooner.

Indictments could include many more than the four names listed as “unindicted co-conspirators” during the FBI’s raids in July last year: Chairman Omali Yeshitela; Party Director of Agitation and Propaganda, Akilé Anai; African People’s Solidarity Committee Chair, Penny Hess; and Uhuru Solidarity Movement Chair, Jesse Nevel.

At 5am on July 29, the FBI invaded the home of Yeshitela and his wife, APSP Deputy Chair Ona Zené Yeshitela, in St Louis, Missouri, the Uhuru Solidarity Center, also in St Louis, as well as the Uhuru House in St Petersburg, Florida.

Yeshitela told the webinar that “flash-bang” grenades were set off and laser points were directed at his chest when he opened the door of their home, and a drone almost hit Ona when she came down the stairs. Both were handcuffed and the entire Black working-class St Louis neighbourhood was under siege for hours. Federal agents seized computers and phones, seriously hampering their political work.

As reported by Toward Freedom, in St Petersburg, FBI agents lured Akilé Anai “outside her home, saying her car had been broken into. Upon opening her car, they forced her to hand over her devices”.

The FBI and DOJ claim that the raids were sparked by Yeshitela’s having conversations with with Aleksandr Ionov, a Russian they accused of spreading “Russian propaganda”. Yeshitela described how insulting and demeaning it is for the FBI/DOJ to insinuate that the APSP is unable to analyse African people’s state of oppression and make decisions for itself unless Russians tell it what to think.

This case is particularly chilling for those who do solidarity work with Latin America, Africa and Asia. According to the precedent set by the July 29 raids and indictments, anyone who meets with any representative of another country could face criminal charges under the Foreign Agent Registration Act, which the APSP expects the FBI/DOJ to use to justify their bullying. Actions against the APSP could lay the foundation for indicting me for interviewing and writing about Cuban doctors.

Legal abuse could be leveled against anyone who has visited Cuba and explained what the revolution has accomplished. The FBI/DOJ could indict Monthly Review for publishing my book on Cuban Health Care along with publishers who release books on Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia and other countries that have resisted US imperialism.

A noticeable exception would be citizens and lawmakers who meet with and are influenced by agents of Israel. They have no reason to fear harassment. Of course, it might be quite different for those having the temerity to meet with Palestinians.

After the raids, the Black Alliance for Peace announced it would “concentrate its efforts on not only opposing the US war agenda globally but the war and repression being waged on Black and Brown communities within US borders”.

The December 23 webinar aimed to build nationwide and international support for the July 29 victims, so people are prepared to respond when the indictments come down. The handsoffuhuru.org website has been launched to gather support.

The other barrel

The corporate state’s shotgun barrel is also aimed at shutting down the many projects under the APSP umbrella. They simultaneously offer meaningful life-changing solutions for those in poor Black communities and provide examples of what a socialist society could look like.

The projects are part of what the APSP calls its “Black Power Blueprint” (BPB) and what socialist theorists might call “concretisation” of ideas that “prefigure” a post-capitalist society. The BPB’s efforts may be the most extensive integration of theory and practice occurring in the US today.

Perhaps the prime example is Uhuru Wa Kulea (African Women's Health Center), which has a vision “to provide health and self-care programs that reinforce our traditional African culture, and invest in the future of our community with doula and childbirth educator certification programs along with opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship.” Concepts for the Center rely heavily on the health care system of Cuba, which now has life expectancy greater than the US, due to its focus on women and children.

APSP-related efforts in St Louis include:

The Uhuru House Community Center which transformed a condemned building into a three-story community event and program space named Akwaaba Hall;

A Community Basketball Court to allow for “spirited youth programs” and tournaments;

Murals at the Gary Brooks Community Garden that has been in operation for two years and at the recently completed Community Basketball Court which depict “Black families controlling our own culture and food economy by planting, growing and harvesting food from the garden;” 

Completed renovation of a 4-plex apartment building devoted to housing for the African Independence Workforce Program which creates jobs for those re-entering the Black community from the prison system; 

The Uhuru Jiko Kitchen and Bakery/Café which, once the refurbishing of an existing commercial structure is completed, will bring African economic and cultural life to a depressed commercial area and will help stop gentrification;

A planned program for the Black Power Square where condemned buildings have been removed to make way for retail opportunities by utilizing shipping containers to house community-based small businesses and create jobs.

APSP also runs Uhuru Foods and Pies in Oakland, California and St Petersburg, a community garden/farm in Huntsville Alabama, furniture stores in Oakland and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a radio station in St Petersburg and the Burning Spear newspaper.

The goal of attacking APSP leaders is to exterminate every project and every component of the BPB which Yeshitela speaks of as “building duel and contending power”, funded to a significant degree through reparations raised by the Uhuru Solidarity Movement (USM).

The government has virtually unlimited police and legal resources at its disposal to drown out dissent. If it can force the APSP to divert its energies and limited budget to legal defense, it can undermine projects and terrorise solidarity activists — even if it imprisons very few.

This is the message from one barrel of the snarling state:

“Don’t hope for a new life…

don’t imagine a new world… 

and certainly don’t try to build one…

because capitalism is all you can look forward to.”

The other barrel of the shotgun screams that efforts by US citizens to build solidarity with victims of global oppression will be met with the most vicious attacks the corporate state can muster.

An APSP update on the indictments and defense will be held at 6pm (Central US time) on January 9. Register at: https://handsoffuhuru.org/ to attend.

[Don Fitz (fitzdon@aol.com) is on the Editorial Board of Green Social Thought, where a version of this article originally appeared. He was the 2016 candidate of the Missouri Green Party for governor. He is the author of Cuban Health Care: The Ongoing Revolution (Monthly Review Press, 2020).]