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From African Liberation Day hosted by the African People’s Socialist Party in 2019 (Photo: African People’s Socialist Party USA via Facebook). The FBI’s history is marked by violent attempts to “neutralize” Black organizations. Some worry that recent raids on the Uhuru Movement is another such attempt
On July 29 at 5 am, the US Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) conducted a violent raid on the home of Omali Yeshitela, Chairman of the US-based African People’s Socialist Party (APSP), in St. Louis, Missouri. In a video posted the next day, Yeshitela claims that FBI deployed flashbang grenades, carried automatic weapons, damaged the property of his neighbors including smashing windows, and handcuffed himself and his wife. Yeshitela also claims that the FBI refused to show him a search warrant and that they took his cellphones and all other devices from his home.
It was only later that Yeshitela learned that the raid on his home was only a part of several raids across the country against locations affiliated with the APSP. That same day, the FBI raided the Uhuru Solidarity Center, also in St. Louis, and the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, Florida, both locations of the Uhuru Movement, led by the African People’s Socialist Party. According to Yeshitela, the FBI also raided the APSP’s radio station Black Power 96.3 FM, and reportedly detained a prominent APSP leader.
The raids came as a result of a Justice Department indictment of a Russian man, Aleksandr Ionov who the US government alleges funded and supported Black organizations as part of a “foreign malign influence campaign against the US”. The indictment never specifically names any organization but refers to a “U.S. Political Group 1,” in St. Petersburg, which allegedly partnered with Ionov.
“Ain’t no Russian been responsible for what we face everyday in our lives,” Yeshitela stated. “[The US] is going to say that the Russians somehow had to tell us that we are being oppressed…[the US is] telling the world that Black people don’t have enough sense to be able to lead our own struggle, but that’s not true.”
In response to the raid, Ajamu Baraka, leader of the Black Alliance for Peace, tweeted, “As predicted, Black radicals are targeted again for not falling in line with US imperial agenda on Ukraine.” The APSP has been critical of the US involvement in the Russia–Ukraine war. Attorney and organizer Kamau Franklin stated, “This is a COINTELPRO operation. One meant to destroy Black organizations.”
COINTELPRO was an FBI program that existed from 1956 to 1971, which, in its own words, existed to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” revolutionary organizations. The FBI and local police conducted raids on offices of organizations such as the Black Panther Party (BPP). In a particularly harsh illegal raid in Philadelphia, Police Commissioner Frank Rizzo threatened, “if they break our law, we’ll be there. The police, we’ll be there, and we’ll see who wins.”
US law enforcement also conducted raids on individuals, such as Fred Hampton, the chairman of the Chicago BPP, who was assassinated by Chicago police during one such raid. In his video, Yeshitela notes that the raid on his house was conducted one hour after Hampton’s assassination, which occured at 4 AM, December 4, 1969.
COINTELPRO is a central reason that many US political prisoners, who were former Black revolutionaries in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, are in prison today. Examples include Mutulu Shakur and Mumia Abu-Jamal.