ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—Residents are soon to fill their ballots and cast their votes for the local elections. For the past few weeks, candidates running for City Council of their respective districts and the mayoral position have been engaged in debates and forums to present their platforms to the public and state why they should be elected.
On Monday, July 17, 2017, candidates running for District City Council met at City Hall to do the same. The candidates include James Scott, Gina Driscoll, James Jackson, Robert Blackmon, Corey Givens, Maria Scruggs, Justin Bean and 20-year old Eritha “Akilé” Cainion.
The forum was sponsored by the League of Women’s Voters and was hosted by Stephanie Owens. It lasted a little over one hour.
It was apparent, early on, that the only candidate in this race with true support from the masses is Eritha “Akilé” Cainion—whose platform is appropriately titled “Radical Times, Radical Solutions.” Her supporters, referred to as the “Akilé Squad,” were about two thirds of the audience.
The forum was a quiet event, with the only occasional applause resulting from the audience’s unity with the points in Akilé’s platform, such as reparations and economic development for the African (black) community, putting an end to gentrification and implementing Black Community Control of the Police.
If not met with complete silence, the only response the other candidates received to their answers were scoffs, moans and groans. They either provided watered-down points taken from Akilé’s platform, made politically absurd claims or gave empty answers as they tried to go around the question.
For example, when asked “how would you define genuine economic development for the black community,” one of Robert Blackmon’s solution was to have new grocery stores.
Having new grocery stores placed in the black community would actually be capital extraction from the black community as opposed to genuine economic development for the black community.
James Scott revealed that he has no plans to deal with the economic disparity faced by the black community when he said “who am I to presume that I know what the best solutions are for economic development in the black community. I may live on the Southside but I can’t say that I’m a member of the black community…I don’t think it’s the role of a member of city government to presume that we have the solutions. The solutions should come from the community.” In other words, the black community must fend for ourselves.
It does not take being African to know what will benefit Africans. 27-year-old mayoral candidate, and Uhuru Solidarity Member, Jesse Nevel makes clear that the first step economic development for the black community—which he is also not a member of—is reparations to the black community for all of the stolen wealth, resources, labor and lives, which all white people are the beneficiaries of.
Akilé used a ‘wild card’ opportunity to say “I’m a poor and working class black woman so I can speak for the black community when I say that the demand is large for reparations and economic development for the black community. There is no way to bridge the cap or divide without reparations.”
She also presented a statistic, proven by research, that it will take the average black family 228 years to catch up with the average white family.
Akilé deepened her response by providing material examples of what economic development for the black community looks like, such as “turning over the Tropicana Fields site back to the black community to build affordable housing and economic development on that land.” Other examples included a 16th, 22nd and MLK Street redevelopment plans.
Eritha “Akilé” Cainion, the Voice of the People, Demands Black Community Control of the Police!
Nearing the end of the forum, the candidates had to respond to ‘lightening round’ questions with a ‘yes,’ or ‘no’ answer. One of the questions were “do you advocate for body cameras for the St. Pete police?”
All of the candidates responded with a “yes,” except for Scruggs, whose answer was ‘absolutely positively, yes,’ Justin Bean who responded with ‘no,’ and Cainion who said “Black Community Control of the Police,” a response that received great applause from the audience.
We understand that the supposed lack of body cameras is not what’s killing African people; the police, which serve as a militarily occupying force in the black community are killing black people!
Down with the status quo!
It is clear that the people of St. Pete, from all walks of life: black, white, young, old, heterosexual, homosexual, etc. are all tired of the status quo in the form of the white ruling class! The people want unity but more importantly, the people want change!
It is reflected in every debate up until this point, where the only candidates running for office are the two candidates being slandered by corporate and colonial media: District 6 City Council candidate Eritha “Akilé” Cainion, and mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel—the only two candidates who keep the black community at the center of every discussion.
No other candidate can fill a room with supporters such as these two candidates, because no other candidate speaks to the real interests of the people or provide real solutions for the people.
No other candidate has supporters crowding around them after every debate as they chant their names and slogans “Akile!” “Jesse!” “Radical Times, Radical Solutions!” “Unity Through Reparations!”
It’s clear that something is happening…
We are winning!