Omali Yeshitela: "I ain't speaking to City Hall or the police department."

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African people are going to have make revolution to be free. We are going to have to be a self-determining people, a people that do not have to rely on the goodwill of anybody else. There are no people on the planet Earth that has ever been able to change their circumstances because of somebody else's good will and that's never happened for us. The thing is that the more one learns about one's condition as an African, the more it becomes clear that the conditions I'm suffering from in St. Petersburg are not separate and distinct from the suffering in Haiti or in Jamaica or in Nigeria or in Sudan. The same historical process is responsible for it and part of it is an attack of Africa, dispersal of African people, a separation of African people from each other and from our resources. That is the resolution there is no other resolution.

Something that may have seemed far fetched just a little while ago, is becoming clearer every day to the point that even pundits tied to the ruling class are raising the question of whether the empire is in decline now. And, of course it is. It is in decline as part of a process that sees other peoples around the world whose resources were necessary for the wealth of the empire. And as people rise up everywhere, the empire is in a state of decline and African people will have to rise up and take back our resources before we'll be free. I don't expect, in the final analysis, any meaningful solutions within the context of the existing system. I'm capable of struggling for certain kinds of reform that contribute to positioning the population and enhancing its capacity to resist and transform our condition. But America can't solve our problems.

But on the same token, the Uhuru Movement seems to have lost influence over the last few years.

You talk about influence. I just read an editorial in the St. Petersburg Times that says nobody will talk to the police. Nobody in the African community. There were 200 and some odd people, they said, where they murdered Javon Dawson, but nobody would talk to the police because of Omali Yeshitela and the Uhuru movement. That's what they said. When this crisis happens you will see the person who heads up the Justice For Javon Dawson committee is his stepmother and his cousins and other folks who are members of this organization. We're not as influential as we'd like to be, and we don't have the numbers that we'd like to have.

Have you heard from any witnesses on what exactly happened?

We've heard people. We've also watched Channel 9. I want to mention this because they talk about Omali Yeshitela won't turn over witnesses, they should subpoena Channel 9. Because I saw people on Channel 9, young people, who are saying the boy didn't have a gun. Yes, I have heard people say that they were there and didn't have a gun. I heard one person go further stating that her daughter who was with him earlier on had actually patted him down and there was no weapon in his pockets.

And this whole thing about how we won't let anybody testify is just nonsense, and it's a way to change the subject, because the real deal is that you have a 17-year-old youngster with no criminal history. And the thing that's really interesting about this is every time the police kills somebody in this community, the next day the first thing you see in the newspaper is a mugshot, and the implication there is that the killing was justified because this person has a record. Now, the media that has so much respect for criminal records, in this instance when they can't find a mugshot, they don't say "There's something wrong here. This kid doesn't have a record. That he's never committed a crime in his life, but he decides on this night the first criminal act he's going to engage in is point a gun at the police, and after pointing the gun at police, they find a way to shoot him, though he's shooting at them, twice in the back." Not only is that strange, but the fact is that we've got a 24-year-old kid that's just back from Iraq, from another occupation, who kills him. That's not even a story. The story is the mysterious witnesses that Omali Yeshitela and the Uhuru movement won't produce. What about those witnesses that Channel 9 won't produce?

So they create this thing that somehow we're responsible for anybody talking to the police. They have a problem, and the problem is it doesn't make sense the boy was shot in the back, not in the side, in the back.

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