OMALI YESHITELA ON UNREST IN ST PETE-Andrew Stelzer

05/13/04

The Tyrone Lewis trial was scheduled to start at 9 am, but the judge spent the first 45 minutes speaking to lawyers about the possibility that jurors had seen or heard news of eth disturbances overnight. Meanwhile, outside the courthouse, Omali Yeshitela, the leader St Petersburg branch of the UHURU movement, spoke to reporters about the events of the previous night. Yeshitela said the recent police shooting of Marquell McCollough, along with the citys refusal to pay the family of Tyron Lewis has further upset the community, and reinstilled feelings among black residents that the police and the city are not working in their interests.

ACT “Its not a coincidence that the violence is the same as in 1996…Mccollough..Lewis…white people raised money for him…is that the right way to solve the problem…and I don’t think we would have saw what happened last night..�

the UHURUS have been accused of advocating for violence and encouraging the community to riot. Flyers distributed by the UHURUs in reaction to the killing of Marquell McCollough in fact do not call for violence against police or others, they do ask the question—will St Pete learn of will St Pete burn? Referring to the fact that after civil unrest and fires set in 1996, the city appointed police chief Goliath Davis, who was supported by the UHURU movement. They claim that Davis changed police policies of attacking black people, but he was soon moved up to a different position in the citys bureaucracy. The flyer suggests that the city has not learned from its mistakes, and there is a likely hood that violence will erupt again if things don’t change. Regarding the events of last night, Yeshitela said the people in the street were expressing their rage at long standing problems of poverty and racist behavior by police in their communities, and that until those problems are seriously addressed, there will continue to be public expressions of hopelessness such as those that occurred last night.

ACT “The question is always this—whether they can hear it downtown..they acted like they were serious, you got a heart patient, they do it for 2 weeks then fall back into the bad routines..St Pete could be different..we have leadership..we wont just tell the people to be peaceful. The mayor has a chance to save this city….�

ACT “I think they want power…they pay the white community would support it, but I think the majority of people would support it, we need leadership.

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