Chairman Omali on Tucker Carlson’s show: “The attack on my right to speak is also an attack on the right of the people to hear”

The following is a transcript from Tucker Carlson’s interview with Chairman Omali Yeshitela broadcasted on Mar. 22. 

Tucker Carlson: The details of the story are even more shocking than we’re describing, and we’re going to get them from the man at the very center of it: Omali Yeshitela, the Chairman of this group (the African People’s Socialist Party)—the man now accused of being a Russian agent and about to go on trial. We’re honored to have him join us now. Mr Chairman, thank you so much for coming on.

Chairman Omali Yeshitela: Thank you very much for having me. This is an important interview for us—it helps us to break out of this information encirclement that has been imposed on us by the U.S. government. When we talk about the ignorance of the people being a factor here, part of the way to keep the people ignorant is to keep them from participating in discussions. 

TC: [nodding] Yes.

COY: Because the attack on my right to speak is also an attack on the right of the people to hear. So I have something to say. People may, as you said, agree or not agree with it, but at least they can have opinions that are informed opinions about agreeing or not agreeing with me. 

But when they [the U.S. government] use grenades, battering rams, armored vehicles, assault weapons, and things like that to keep me from talking, and when they talk about putting me in prison for 15 years which is the equivalent of a life sentence for me, this is designed to keep the people from hearing what I have to say. It’s a real testimony, in my opinion, of the fragility of a social system that cannot tolerate a discussion coming from somebody who’s from one of the most economically depressed sectors of the city of St. Louis, MO. 

So it’s all a falsification. I wanted to say, first of all, that our lawyers, for the purpose of making this defense, had to move forward and say that even if we did what they said we did, the First Amendment protects us. 

But I want to say beyond that, that they fabricated most of what they say, that they’re lying. It’s mostly a fabrication. And [I want to say] they are politically motivated in doing what they have done because of internal crises and crises in the existing global system, that sees forces like China, Russia and increasingly even countries like Iran and Venezuela challenging the hegemony of a country that has held that for the longest period of time and has been the big hegemon.

And I think that is a domestic crisis that’s represented by what we see happening inside this country right now, and what we see being partially responsible for it by forces around the world, who are challenging the ability of the United States to continue to be the big dog here. I think that’s what we’re looking at and then, of course, there’s the immediate personal interest of a guy who’s running for president and re-election, and who is also attempting to escape the moniker of being “sleepy”.

So I think these are some of the factors that inform much of what’s happening right now.

TC: One of the great and beautiful things of this moment that we’re living in is that we can sort of put aside some of our preconceptions. I’m sure there’s a lot we disagree on, but I don’t think I disagree with a single word that you just said—I thought it was very nicely put and wise. I just want to say for the record I agree with you that this is a sign of the fragility of the regime. Confident rulers don’t act like this. So I had to say that.

I just want to get to the facts of it quickly, so am I misreading this? I think your lawyer is right. Even if you are guilty of what they accuse you of doing, you’re not guilty of any crime because you’re not accused of violence or theft—no conventional crime. You’re accused of having the wrong opinions. Am I missing something?

COY: Well yeah, because what they’ve said is that even if what we said was true, we’re accused of spewing Russian disinformation. They have said that even though what we said is true, it still amounts to disinformation. So they’re not necessarily accusing us of lying, they’re accusing us of talking.

TC: [laughs] Right.

COY: So I mean that’s extraordinary. 

It’s an illegal document. When we appealed this thing, we immediately went to court on this thing, after nine months of being held in a kind of legal purgatory where we were just unindicted co-conspirators, which meant that we didn’t have legal standing. And we couldn’t go to court and say, “Hey, these people have just looted us and they have handcuffed us, they’ve shut down entire neighborhoods [and] refused to allow people to enter their homes—this is pre-dawn—or leave without showing identification”. 

They’ve done all of these things and we can’t go to court and complain about it because we have no legal standing, because for nine months we weren’t charged with anything. They’ve just stolen all of these materials—they’ve looted our files, they’ve taken laptops, iPads, iPhones and things like that. So it’s nine months before they even indict us. And before that, they offered a $10 million bounty for any information on the man Alexander Ionov, who they said was the Russian for whom we were [supposedly] working. And on anybody who could provide information on us, they offered a $10 million bounty, and this is even after they’ve stolen and looted everything they’ve got. 

They have no case because there is nothing there. It’s a totally fabricated case that they’ve made against us. And it’s extraordinarily dangerous because like you said, first of all, just to be historically factual, the Second Amendment was not something that was written for me or black people. 

The fact is that the law that governed most of the relationship for the longest period of time was something that came out of the 1857 Supreme Court ruling around Dread Scott—which was right here in St. Louis— where the court ruled that a black man had no rights that a white man had to respect. This is when Dread Scott fought that, getting to St. Louis which was supposed to have been a “no slave” state, which would mean that he was free after leaving a place where he had been a slave. The court said: No, you have no rights. And so that was in 1857, and what it took to overturn that ruling was not another court ruling immediately but a civil war.

And so this is what has informed our relationship. So we have now de jure rights, but de facto that has not been the case. That’s why you can look at all of the data and the statistics revolving around the conditions of existence of African people in this country comparatively, and you see that it’s only by law that we’re supposed to have rights but in fact these rights don’t exist. 

What I have done and what our organization has done is move from this simpering kind of a politic that’s based on pleading and begging and trying to come into the system, based on some assumption that the contradiction is racism or the ideas or the opinions that white people have about black people.

What I have done and said is that that’s not the fundamental contradiction. The fundamental contradiction is colonialism. It’s domestic colonialism and it applies right here in this country where a foreign and alien power kidnapped me. [Some people] like to talk about this country being a country of immigrants. Well, we’re not immigrants—we were captives and brought here in chains and the only group other than the indigenous people themselves who didn’t come here looking for a better way of life. People may or may not like what I’m saying or agree with it, and that’s all right. But I’m saying it and the point is the United States government attacked me and they use this assault with the assumption that there are a lot of white people who don’t like what I’m saying and therefore will agree with what the government is doing, despite the fact that there are no facts to substantiate what they’re claiming that we did.

So this is the kind of public opinion that they think will weigh in their favor. But the point is that the Second Amendment and the constitutional rights—free speech, freedom of assembly, protection from this attack on illegal search and seizure—this was done for groups of people who had left England, left other places, left the despotism of kings and things like that and wanted to have some rights. And so they made these rights, but these rights also were given to them on Indigenous land, where black people, you know, had done much of the work to build on this land, etc. They were not for us. It was only bloody struggle that black people were bombed in, churches were bombed, and leaders assassinated just for trying to join Joe Biden’s party. And so now we’re at this place where they are coming at Second Amendment rights that were not made for me but were made for white people. And that means that if this door is open…

TC: May I ask you a question though? But this is being done by the administration that tells us constantly how much they love and worship black people—“no one’s ever done more for black people than the Biden administration”. 

And no one has cheered that on more loudly than the New York Times and the Washington Post which also “love” black people—probably a lot more than you do. [Joking tone]

So have they come to your defense at all? Like any of these?

COY: Not at all.

TC: Yeah, why? That’s kind of weird.

COY: And really, it’s a real serious kind of contradiction that this is able to occur. Especially you know, I mean we talk about Biden. If we just take it on a personal level— which is not necessarily where I was intending to go—but if you take it just on a personal level, we’re talking about Biden who claims to be the great liberal, a white man who loves us. We’re talking also about the guy who was opposed to the Civil Rights Bill, talking about the guy who was opposed to bussing because he didn’t want his children to have to go to school “in a jungle”, etc. just on a personal level. 

But here, they have never had to offer African people anything. When they run for office, it’s not because they’re offering us anything—they’re frightening black people. They say if you don’t vote for us, you’re going to get Trump who is a demon, or you’re going to get the Republicans who are demons, or you’re going to get what we characterize as fascism, etc. So they don’t have to promise black people anything, except where they’ll protect us from the other white people. So that’s one aspect of it.

Then there’s a whole body of folk who are employed through things like welfare slavery and programs that they create. It’s a whole array of folk that employ liberals based on that. 

What we stand for is self-determination. We also believe in reparations. But the point is that we have—in St. Louis alone—we have seven contiguous blocks in St. Louis, an economically depressed sector. We’ve purchased something like 20-something odd properties and we’ve put businesses and other kinds of things there. That’s not permissible. We’re supposed to get in line for welfare or something like that. 

We’re teaching African people that you can be self-determining, that there is an alternative to what you got.

But the whole Democratic party apparatus rests upon this foundation of welfare slavery and this is where they would have black people located. And so the Democratic party, you can’t say that they lied to us whether it was Obama or whether it was this guy, Biden—you can’t say that they lied to us because they didn’t promise us anything, except they would protect us from Trump or from the Republican party. 

And I’m not a Trump person or a Republican person. I’m for the liberation of black people. And that’s why this whole thing about working for Russians is so ridiculous. I’m not looking for another master. I’m trying to get rid of the whole relationship that presupposes that we will be servants of anybody.

TC: I mean given that you haven’t actually done anything—you’re not accused of doing anything that isn’t already legal, [just] exercising rights that are guaranteed to you from birth till death under the U.S. Constitution—I’m a little bit surprised that nobody has defended you in the U.S. media. Now I will say your name sounds non-mainstream, name of your organization, but once you learn—

COY: So like Obama. [joking]

TC: [laughs] Yeah, fair! Barack Hussein Obama! 

But once you learn the details of this, you’d think there would be at least one civil libertarian at the New York Times editorial page or the Washington Post, NBC News, CNN, or any of these groups—has anybody said a word about an armored personnel carrier showing up at your house for speaking? For talking?

COY: No, we’ve had to go out and really work. I mean, in July of this [past] year, we had a meeting—a conference—and we pulled together something like 40 different organizations, and what have you, to unite as part of an anti-colonial free speech movement who are pushing back on this. I think that includes one organization of lawyers. But generally speaking, we haven’t been able to get anything—even so-called progressive black politicians and what have you have not stepped forward.

But you also got to remember we’re talking about a period where it’s impermissible even to say things—you cannot say, “From the River to the Sea.” You know, I mean it’s incredible, the attack that’s being made on the right of people to speech.

And by the way, as a point of information, I’ve been arrested several times on the question of speech. I was arrested in Florida. They created a law called incitement to riot. Didn’t have to be a riot—I just had to want one to happen when I spoke. I mean, they put me in jail and certainly put me in prison for having done that. So this question of speech is a really critical issue and people need to pay attention.

I was under assault in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1996. Some 300 cops—National Guard troops—attacked our building, set houses on fire and used all kinds of machinations including the FBI, because they were concerned that we were protesting and speaking out against the police having killed an 18-year-old youngster. And the grand jury said that was alright for that to occur. We were having a meeting and they didn’t want me to talk, so they attacked the building. 

They said—in our own building—they said that you have something like five minutes to get out of the building because this is an illegal meeting in our own building. We own the building! And so they attacked. So [on] the free speech question, the problem is that they did this in plain view. People saw it happen. The people in the community actually brought a helicopter down by gunfire. This is how intense it was. And not a single civil libertarian stepped forward to say: why are you attacking these people for just speech? It’s incredible.

TC: Well I’m confused. So you’re describing basically what the Black Lives Matter people said four years ago. Some of them got legit rich out of it. You don’t seem like you’ve gotten rich. They got all this money from Apple and the big companies in the world, and of course the media cheer-led them. How did you miss out on that?

COY: Well because, the thing is, to say “black lives matter” is such an empty slogan. It’s a whine rather than a demand.

TC: [laughs]

COY: You know Joe Biden says, “black lives matter.” I mean, you got the whole Democratic party—you know Congress and what have you—get out on one knee with Kinte cloth from Ghana over their shoulders, saying “black lives matter.” ‘Coz it doesn’t mean anything. It’s a non-statement.

But what we say is black people have to have power. So we want power over our own lives—that’s the question. And that’s the basis for the difference in how they would treat Black Lives Matter and how they would treat us.

And you’re right—the Black Lives Matter slogan is almost a Zuckerberg-manufactured slogan. Certainly, if it’s not manufactured by Zuckerberg, it’s certainly promoted by Zuckerberg and all the white people who “love” us.

TC: Yep. [nodding]

So tell us about what else—I wasn’t aware of this. So I was talking to someone on your staff this morning. It’s not just the government that went after you. And I should say that you haven’t gone on trial and you’re not convicted of anything. I mean, you’re not a criminal.

But it sounds like business has aligned against you as well, if you wouldn’t mind explaining what’s happened.

COY: Yeah, right. I mean, we’ve been sanctioned by banks like we are some kind of a hostile country. The banks that we’ve done more than 20 years of business with—we’ve never missed a payment, we are really disciplined in terms of taking care and sometimes paid earlier than what was due—and the banks, e.g. Regions Banks was one big bank, they kicked us off. Even some members of our movement, their personal accounts have shut down. They shut us down. They forced the payment of something like an $80,000 mortgage that we had, and we were given something like two weeks to pay it off. We’ve had similar things happening from another bank. 

We’ve had some 130,000 signatures that have been collected on petitions that were calling on people to take the United States before the United Nations, for violation of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment for the Crime of Genocide—they were taken down and disappeared. 

Because, as you know, the U.S. government claims that the work that we were doing on a tour—participating with the United Nations trip throughout the United States in six cities, and we were collecting petitions on that and talking about reparations—[they claim] that the Russians paid us to do that. So they took that down—I guess it must be some kind of evidence of “crime” that we committed. We don’t know, it just disappeared. 

And that was just one of the banks, by the way. There was another bank that did a similar thing. And just recently we had a situation within the last week or so, ten days at least, [with] the fiscal sponsor that we use. [We use this fiscal sponsor platform] because we really want to have this thing be quite transparent and quite above board, because we’ve had to spend just about a quarter of a million dollars already just in legal fees alone and we have this process where people can make contributions to us. 

And the fiscal sponsor—that has been dealing with something like 600 different entities that they function as fiscal sponsors of—suddenly decided they were going out of business. And of the top six, we were five or six among the top forces in terms of money going into that, and five others of them have not even been operational for the last two years. So they decided they were going out of business. 

There were a whole bunch of coincidences that happened. Coincidences like the church right across the street from my house (that they attacked on July 29th, 2022) that church coincidentally—where it had been empty for ages and we had it under contract to purchase it in order to put programs in for the community—that church mysteriously burned down.

And then this attack on us on July 29th followed an attack on July 2nd, 2019 where a 50-foot flag pole hosting a 15-by-25-foot red, black and green African national flag was torched in broad daylight. And the guy who torched it wasn’t even charged with arson, you know. It was some kind of criminal mischief thing. 

I mean, it’s just a host of attacks that have been made on us. And sometimes it’s the government and sometimes it’s financial institutions like Regions Banks, where we’ve had to have demonstrations and what have you. 

But they are moving, it seems, to first of all make us spend money that we’ve been using to put programs on the ground. For example, on the day they attacked us, that same morning, later that morning we had scheduled training for African women who were becoming doulas, being trained to become doulas—people who take care and make safe births for women and for the children in St. Louis. We have a situation where there are enough black babies dying in the first year of life to fill 15 kindergarten classes.

So we’re having this doula training. They attack our building. They attack our home. That did happen, but we’ve initiated a process where we bought properties, where we are setting up a women’s center, things like that. That’s the kind of stuff that they’re attacking, and so they would divert the money that we would have for these programs.

You need to come to St. Louis. By the way, I heard you making some kind of suggestion that you might like me if you have dinner or something. And so that’s an open invitation: come to St. Louis.

TC: [laughs] Thank you.

COY: I want you to see what we’re doing because I think it’s really important to get a grasp of the significance of what is happening to us. ‘Cause you won’t find another organization doing this—really transforming an impoverished community that’s in a state of despair.

I mean, we built a $60,000 basketball court in a place where children, black children, are playing in the streets, dodging cars going back and forth, using makeshift basketball hoops from bicycle rims and things like that. You would think that the city would be applauding us, that the government would be applauding.

And by the way, here’s an irony. Because they call this a food desert in North St. Louis where we live and I think we got something like 80,000 or more dollars, a grant from the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), to create and operate a Farmers Market there which is one of the most effective farmers markets that they say is happening in the country, that the USDA has sponsored. This is who we are. 

This is part of the crime that’s being committed against our community, our people, because this is self-determination. And that’s the problem that they have, and that’s the thing that the Democratic party has, because it relies on having this relationship with black people who are tied to welfare slavery and not self-determination. And we won’t tolerate that.

TC: Amen. If you don’t mind my asking—let me tell you why I’m asking. I want to ask how old you are, because I see this armored personnel carrier in front of your house. It looks like a war. And I see dozens of heavily-armed FBI agents and the presumption is that you’re very dangerous. So to put that into perspective, how old are you?

COY: I’m 82 years old. I will be 83 in October. And that’s why I say that this whole threat of a 15-year prison sentence is effectively a threat of a life sentence as it relates to me. 

There are other younger people (part of the Uhuru 3) like Penny Hess who is a white woman, who I wanted to mention is Chair of the African People’s Solidarity Committee, and Jesse Nevel who is a youngster, who is the Chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, and they work primarily in the white community. And this concept even of understanding who we are, you know, like as “black nationalist”—we are anti-colonial forces. 

We have organizations of white people in 117 cities in this country. And what these organizations are doing is they are taking the demand for reparations, they are taking the exposure of genocide and they’re talking about the injustices committed against African people. So, Penny Hess and Jesse Nevel, are heads of two of these organizations that are the front of our movement in the white community.

So I just want to say that we are not race-based politic. Our politic is based on this fundamental relationship—because even the concept of race finds itself and comes into existence through colonialism. We are anti-colonialist.

And that’s a change, I mean because it doesn’t mean that we haven’t always been. I have been, at one juncture, seriously concerned about the question of race, because I took my examples of how to explain reality from what I learned from this system—and so racism and races and things like that. 

But even the concept of race denies me of nationality, that I’m not even, you know, a person that can be defined in relationship to a history of my own. It’s a negation of my history. 

And even what the government has done, in terms of charging me with being an agent of Russia, like we don’t have agency as a people. Like I am one of the persons that was working against Joe Biden’s notions. I participated in organizing people to register and vote, particularly in the state of Florida.

I was in the United States military. I was there—I was in Berlin when the Berlin Wall went up. I was one of those forces in one of those tanks that faced [Russia]—one of the first times Russian and American tanks faced each other in combat there. I was there. And I don’t know where Biden was. I don’t know where he was during that.

TC: [laughs]

COY: I was there, you see. And so this whole notion that somehow I’m being manipulated. And I mention the thing about Florida because I was there when the Cuban Missile Crisis [happened]. [So] I’m stationed in Georgia. And so they send a convoy of troops to go into Florida, Fort Patrick—I think it was characterized as a Patrick Air Force Base in Florida—and I’m on a convoy. I’m riding from Fort Benning, Georgia, in a convoy and we’re driving down to this area near Cocoa in Florida. You know where I’m talking about, I think you live in Florida.

TC: [nodding] Yeah.

COY: And so we get to Palatka, Florida, and people get out of the convoy to go and eat in this restaurant. We went in the restaurant and the woman who was serving said, “We don’t serve your kind,” talking about me. I’m in the U.S. military. I’m going to defend you, as you say, from the Cubans and missiles. And then you say: I can’t eat there.

But it was all right, because my officer, the white officer, said, “Don’t worry about it. We’ll bring you something out.”

So this is the history we’re talking about, and so this notion—I don’t know if the Russians ever had to experience that before. I don’t think Russians ever had to do that kind of stuff and be threatened, as I was in Madison, Florida, with lynching for taking black people to register and vote, or in Alachua County where I was taking black people to register and vote. I don’t know if Russians ever experienced that and, based on that, I don’t see how the hell the Russians could be teaching me, leading me, around this sort of issue.

TC: [laughs]

COY: So it’s just ridiculous on its face. Part of what it is, they would negate the history of black people in this country, and part of it is negation of the history of the country itself. And this is part of what I mean in terms of, you know, history—I mean it can be unpleasant. But if we don’t face it, if we don’t look at it, we can never solve any real problems. 

That’s one of the contradictions we’re looking at right now in Occupied Palestine. Look at the history. That’s the thing about Ukraine and Russia. People can get misused. People die. We are facing a possible nuclear conflagration because of this falsified story that they’ve invented about Ukraine, etc. It’s ridiculous and it’s dangerous. 

And that’s one of the reasons I’m glad to have this discussion with you and hopefully giving me access to people who I normally wouldn’t be talking to. 

TC: I hope this is seen far and wide. 

COY: Yeah.

TC: So I’m grateful that you came on and talked to us. And Godspeed on your trial.

COY: Thank you so very much.

TC: It’s pretty shocking. We’ll be following you.

COY: Thank you. All right, thank you.

TC: Thank you very much.

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