By Stansfield Smith – May 3, 2023
July 29, 2022, the FBI launched an unjustifiable military style attack on offices and homes of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) and Uhuru Movement leaders. On April 18, 2023, indictments were issued by the US Department of Justice against APSP Chairman Omali Yeshitela, African People’s Solidarity Committee Chair Penny Hess, Uhuru Solidarity Movement Chair Jesse Nevel, and Gazi Kodzo, a party leader in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Claiming they were agents of a foreign government (Russia), the indictment asserts they “the Russian defendants recruited, funded and directed US political groups to act as unregistered illegal agents of the Russian government and sow discord and spread pro-Russian propaganda.“ “The department will not hesitate to expose and prosecute those who sow discord and corrupt US elections in service of hostile foreign interests, regardless of whether the culprits are US citizens or foreign individuals abroad.”
This is nothing but the US government of Biden criminalizing speech against the war. “Sowing discord” – disagreeing with US government actions – is defended by our First Amendment rights, as is our right to disseminate what others may call “disinformation” and “propaganda.” Opposition to the US war with Russia in the Ukraine is no more pro-Russian propaganda than opposition to the US war in Vietnam was pro-Communist propaganda.
The Department of Justice statement continues, “Today’s announcement paints a harrowing picture of Russian government actions and the lengths to which the FSB [its Federal Security Service] will go to interfere with our elections, sow discord in our nation and ultimately recruit U.S citizens to their efforts.” This “harrowing picture” nonsense amounts to the APSP running in local elections in St. Petersburg where they win about 2% of the vote.
The Democrats regularly seek to eliminate from the ballot any party to its left (such as the Green Party) from the ballot, fearing they siphon away votes. In this way, the Democrats take the primary role in the two corporate parties as the main guard dog against the building of a progressive third party.
The US government alleges that the APSP, having received up to $15,000 in donations from people who are Russian (no evidence has been presented they work for the Russian government) over the years, and having run their party candidates in elections, amounts to interference in US elections. They face ten years in prison for the offense, and five years for allegedly inducing others to commit the same “crime.”
Because of these minor contributions over the years, the US government claims that the four were “acting as agents of the Russian government within the United States without prior notification” – they had not filed the required forms. That hardly justifies the FBI smashing into their homes and offices in a military style attack, showing that COINTELPRO lives on.
This was an attempt to intimidate APSP leader Omali Yeshitela, clearly not a man who can be. His inspiring speech at the March 18 anti-war rally makes that clear.
Omali pointed out in a statement:
This case is not about whether or not I went to Russia, or whether or not I have a position around the war in Ukraine that was the same as what the Russians had. This attack was perpetrated against us because we have always fought for the liberation of Africa and African people everywhere. The legal statutes the US will use to execute this political attack will include the so-called “Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)” … This is selective prosecution. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee and other Israeli lobbying organizations are seemingly immune from prosecution under the FARA law despite their obvious public function as agents of the Israeli government. The “Foreign Agents Registration Act” is almost never enforced unless it is used as a tool against Africans and other colonized peoples.
The Uhuru Movement has existed for half a century, has consistently opposed US interventions and wars overseas, as well as standing up for Black rights at home. Claiming it has been a Russian government operation continues the Russiagate hysteria put out by the Democrats and the national security state, both asserting that President Putin of Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help elect Trump.
The government’s underlying goal is to criminalize those who oppose US wars, and turn the most effective opponents into felons. We see that in the decade long persecution and torture of Julian Assange, a case the US is using to intimidate all journalists.
Russophobia has turned into a new McCarthyism. Once again opponents of US imperialist wars are called agents of Moscow, no proof required.
A statement by HandsoffUhuru.org declared, “We recognize these raids as consistent with the historical attacks on the African Liberation Movement by the FBI and US federal government going back at least 100 years with the movement led by Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League and continuing through the decades to include attacks and charges made against Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s.”
There have been many other government-sponsored censorship operations against news outlets and websites opposed to the US’ recent wars. Those prosecuted and imprisoned have generally been actual whistleblowers. Unlike other anti-war and anti-imperialist websites interfered with the government, the APSP is both a Black nationalist organization and one that organizes programs in the community to aid and uplift the people, reminiscent of the work of the Black Panther Party. That made it a priority police state target.
The US government, even going back to the 1600s, has existed as a police state against Blacks, native Americans, and all peoples of color who stood up against the sub-human status imposed upon them. As a rule, whites have experienced this police state, concealed under a facade of freedom and democracy, only sporadically, when the working class has been demanding their own equal status as human beings (1877 to 1920s, 1930s, after World War II).
Since its origin—and before—the US government has reserved special brutal police state measures for Blacks who stand up for their constitutional rights. Two days after Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech, the national secret police (FBI) responded to his ennobling message with this shocking memo, declaring King “the most dangerous Negro of the future in this Nation. We have to use every resource at our disposal to destroy him.” Evidently, equal rights for Blacks is fatal for the rulers of the US. On March 4, 1968, Hoover wrote to FBI field offices laying out the goals of the COINTELPRO, including “to prevent the rise of a black messiah.” April 4, King was murdered. In the next few years, 28 Black Panthers were murdered by police state forces for insisting their First and Second Amendment rights be respected. Many more were framed up and imprisoned for decades, with some still in prison after half a century.
Fortunately, even some on the right have defended the Uhuru movement’s right to dissent, including Tucker Carlson and Glenn Beck. More solidarity is needed, particularly by supporters of the Democratic Party, which is playing a key role in expanding the powers of the US police state. We encourage everyone to join the campaign to defend the African People’s Socialist Party from this police state operation.
Stansfield Smith is a Chicago based anti-imperialist activist. He was active for over a decade in the Chicago Committee to Free the Cuban 5. His work is now on ChicagoALBASolidarity.wordpress.com. He has written on Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs and on North Korea for Counterpunch and others.
Stansfield Smith#molongui-disabled-linkSeptember 20, 2023