African People’s Socialist Party Africa Liberation Day 2019 (Photo: African People’s Socialist Party USA via Facebook)
At 5 a.m. on July 29, 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 the FBI deployed flash grenades, carried automatic weapons, damaged neighbors’ property, 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 cell phones and all other devices from his home.
Only later did Yeshitela learn that the raid on his home was only part of several raids across the country against APSP-affiliated sites. On the same day, the FBI raided the Uhuru Solidarity Center, also in St. Louis, and the Uhuru House in St. Petersburg, Florida, both located in 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 allegedly detained a senior APSP leader.
The raids came following a Justice Department indictment of a Russian man, Aleksandr Ionov, who the US government says funded and supported black organizations as part of a “Malicious Foreign Influence Campaign Against the United States”. The indictment never specifically names an organization but refers to an “American Political Group 1″, in St. Petersburg, which allegedly associated with Ionov.
“No Russian has been responsible for what we face every day in our lives,” Yeshitela said. “[The US] going to say that the Russians must have somehow told us that we are oppressed…[the US is] tell the world that black people don’t have enough common sense to fight our own fight, but that’s not true.
In response to the raid, Ajamu Barakaleader of the Black Peace Alliance, tweeted“As expected, black radicals are once again being targeted for not complying with the US imperial agenda on Ukraine.“APSP criticized US involvement in the Russian-Ukrainian war. Lawyer and organizer Kamau Franklin said: “This is a COINTELPRO operation. One was aimed at destroying black organizations.
COINTELPRO was an FBI program that existed from 1956 to 1971, which in its own words existed for “expose, disrupt, misappropriate, discredit or otherwise neutralize” revolutionary organizations. The FBI and local police raided the 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 will be there. The police, we’ll be there, and we’ll see who wins.
US law enforcement also carried out raids on individuals, such as Chicago BPP Chairman Fred Hampton, who was murdered by Chicago police during one such raid. In his video, Yeshitela notes that the raid on his home was carried out an hour after the Hampton assassination, which took place at 4 a.m. on December 4, 1969.
COINTELPRO is a central reason why many American 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.