Uhuru Solidarity leader runs for St. Pete Mayor

St. Pete mayor candidate announcement

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A leader in the Uhuru Solidarity Movement announced Wednesday morning that he is running for Mayor of St. Petersburg; Jesse Nevel is running for economic revitalization in the black community and under the slogan of “Unity through reparations.”

St. Pete

Supporters of Jesse Nevel, candidate for mayor of St. Petersburg. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (8 Mar. 2017).

“That means a true, positive, public policy of economic development for this city’s historic black communities. That will bring the city together. Repairing the damage the city has inflicted upon the black residents of our city time and time again, mayor after mayor. We can come together as a city, not through superficial solutions, but, by really addressing and uniting with a black community that is calling for political and economic power and control of their own lives and destinies.

“Sixty years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, economic injustice for the black community is worse than ever. Police violence is worse than ever. Mass incarceration is worse than ever and today, in the United States, the average white family has 22 times the wealth of the average black family. The legacy of slavery, upon which the city and the United States as a whole were built, continues to haunt our present day reality.”

But does the 27-year-old Nevel have the skills to run a city or earn tens of thousands of votes? He says he has experience working in his community and he was elected the national chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Network in 2013. According to its website, it’s “under the leadership if the African People’s Socialist Party” and is a “strategic front of the African liberation movement inside the white community.”

“The work that I’ve done as the chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, has involved coordinating people throughout the country; has involved coordinating branches; going on speaking tours and I think that, you know, at the very least, the people coming to power in this city, could do a better job than this corrupt politician has done these last 4 years.”

Nevel is referring to current Mayor Rick Kriseman. During Nevel’s campaign announcement Wednesday morning he called Kriseman’s response to the massive sewage dumps over the last two summers “criminal.”

“The resources that the city of St. Pete, under Rick Kriseman and his ‘big-money’ backers, have poured into overdeveloping downtown businesses to attract tourists on vacation and entertainment seekers, must be reallocated to benefit the neighborhoods of the people who live here and who have a stake in seeing this community prosper and develop for all, not for the few at the expense of the many.

“We want to stop the toxic pollution of the environment in St. Petersburg. The city’s infrastructure must be redesigned fundamentally, with the input and participation of the people, to be able to adequately deal with the sewage in the stormy seasons, here in the so-called Sunshine City.

“What Kriseman and St. Pete ‘big-money’ got away with, last summer, was nothing short of criminal. 256,000,000 gallons of sewage leaked into Clam Bayou and the Tampa Bay and no one even saw a day in court. We will do something about that.

“Kriseman and ‘big-money’ have to be flushed out of St. Pete politics once and for all, because the sewage problem is deeper than the Tampa Bay. The sewer of corruption leaks out of Kriseman’s office down the steps of City Hall.”

Nevel announced his run for St. Pete mayor with 25 supporters and family in front of Tropicana Field. He says he picked the location because it’s the former Gas Plant neighborhood where dozens of families were removed to make room for the baseball dome.

St. Pete

Jesse Nevel, candidate for mayor of St. Petersburg (l), and his mother, Dana Easterling. By Seán Kinane / WMNF News (8 Mar. 2017).

“Nearly 20,000 people, living in the south side, are struggling below the federal poverty line. That has got to go. The city has devised, not a positive economic plan to rectify these conditions, but, a ‘war budget’ to criminalize, imprison, and arrest the black community. That has got to go.

“If we truly believe in democracy, then we should support a system where the police, in a black community, are controlled by a democratically elected community council, with the power to fire, hire, train, and discipline officers who are part and have a stake in uplifting a community. Black community control of the police will make it possible to drastically reduce the police budget, so that a positive public policy of economic development can replace a negative public policy of police containment.

“Save that $79 Million dollars they want to use to build a new police station across the street from the current one and use that to fund economic development on 16th Street, just a few blocks away.

“We want to end gentrification. We don’t need displacement of traditionally black communities. We can have a good, healthy, economy that doesn’t require coming in from the outside of a neighborhood, calling code violations, buying up property, raising the value and kicking people out–driving people out of their homes–we don’t need to do that.”

Nevel grew up in Miami, and his mother – who also spoke at the press conference – said he learned social justice values from his Jewish family. He promised, if elected, to slash the mayor’s salary by $100,000 a year.

Watch the press conference here (in two parts)

WMNF News interview with Jesse Nevel:

WMNF News Facebook live video: