FBI denies Uhuru 3 Freedom of Information Act requests: What are they hiding?

The Hands Off Uhuru! Fightback Coalition, made up of over 40 organizations operating under the political direction of Chairman Omali Yeshitela and chaired by Comrade Mwezi Odom, is confident that we will win freedom for the Uhuru 3 on the ground and in the courtroom!

In addition to Chairman Omali Yeshitela, leader of the African People’s Socialist Party, the Uhuru 3 include Penny Hess, Chair of the African People’s Solidarity Committee, and Jesse Nevel, Chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, both white organizations that represent strategic extensions of the African liberation movement under the leadership of the African People’s Socialist Party that organize in white communities for reparations to African people.

The three were indicted in May on bogus federal charges of operating as illegal “foreign agents” in a Russian conspiracy to sow discord in the U.S. and face 15 years in this latest political attack on the African Liberation Movement by the U.S. colonial State, which has a long history of attempting to silence the African working class-led voices and movements for political power in our own hands.

In preparation for a looming trial possibly in early 2024, Hands Off Uhuru has brought together a dedicated and dynamic legal team, including Attorneys Ade Griffin, Mutaqee Akbar, Angela Reaney, and Leonard Goodman, who wrote the brilliant motion to dismiss the indictment, which was argued in Florida Middle District Federal Court on Sept. 28. The Motion can be found at HandsOffUhuru.org. As of this writing, more than two and a half months later, the U.S. colonial State has still not ruled on the motion.

Government response to FOIA requests

African People’s Socialist Party Director of Organization Chimurenga Selemabo heads the HOU Legal Defense Support Committee and has organized a group of lawyers, including Colin Poirot of the National Lawyers Guild and others.

Earlier in 2023, the legal defense support committee submitted applications to the government for the release of all Freedom of Information files on Chairman Yeshitela, Hess, Nevel, and Akilé Anai (one of the original four “unindicted co-conspirators” following the violent July 29, 2022 raids), calling for all information gained through the many years of illicit surveillance, wiretapping, and other government counterinsurgent efforts.

The government responded to the application for the files on Chairman Yeshitela, saying that it would take five and a half years to provide all the FOIA documents on what they called a “large track release.” For Jesse Nevel, the FOIA request was summarily denied, a decision that was then appealed by our lawyers.

The appeal was also denied with a comment from the government telling Nevel that if he was “dissatisfied” with the denial, he could sue them. Hands Off Uhuru intends to do so. For Penny Hess, there has been no response at all from the U.S. government concerning her files.

For Akilé Anai, Director of the Party’s Department of Agitation and Propaganda, her file was initially denied then later provided after an appeal, but the documents received only contained three pages, two of which were heavily redacted and one left completely blank. The information from the FBI suggests they have conducted no prior investigation on Anai and only detailed the events that occurred on the day of the FBI raids.

The Uhuru 3 have a collective history of more than 118 years of activism in the Uhuru Movement, with Chairman Omali Yeshitela alone having fought for the liberation of Africa and African people everywhere for more than a half-century.

Chairman Omali’s records prove FBI charges are bogus

The release of what would be massive numbers of FBI surveillance files and documents would help to destroy the government’s manufactured charges alleging that Chairman Yeshitela somehow suddenly became an unregistered “agent of the Russian government” in 2014, more than 46 years after he rose to widespread prominence as leader of the Junta of Militant Organizations (JOMO) in 1966.

Everything that the Chairman fought for then, he fights for today. He has always struggled for political and economic power in the hands of the African working class; the unification and liberation of Africa and African people everywhere, the fight against the colonial mode of production built on the enslavement of African people and the genocide of the Indigenous people.

He led and popularized the fight for reparations to African people and in 1982 put the U.S. government on trial using international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

The 1975 U.S. senate Church committee that “investigated” the COINTELPRO program named the Junta of Militant Organizations (JOMO), led by the Chairman, as one of the black organizations targeted by the FBI. The current attacks on the Chairman and the Party are a continuation of the counterinsurgency programs used by the FBI and U.S. government to try to silence the African Liberation movement through colonial violence and assassinations of the courageous and beloved leaders of the African movement, such as Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Fred Hampton, among others.

Continued attacks against Black Revolution

COINTELPRO was responsible for previous court cases targeting black leaders with false charges such as the Panther 21 case in New York where Afeni Shakur and others were charged with numerous conspiracy charges, including the bogus allegations to blow up the New York Botanical Gardens among other manufactured charges which the Panthers successfully defeated.

It is clear that the government intends to use this current attack and potential trial targeting Chairman Yeshitela to challenge the free speech rights of black and colonized people and ultimately the free speech rights of everyone. This same FBI that historically led the assaults on the Black Revolution of the 1960s is the organization that launched the pre-dawn raids on the Chairman’s home on July 29, 2022, and 6 other properties, offices, and homes of the Uhuru Movement in St. Louis, MO and St. Petersburg, FL. The FBI agents arrived at 5 a.m. in armored vehicles, using loudspeakers, high-powered battering rams to break down doors, flashbang grenades, and drones.

Nine months after the attacks, the Uhuru 3 were indicted on these bogus charges and we created the Hands off Uhuru! Hands Off Africa! Counteroffensive which has garnered worldwide support, visible at the Hands Off Uhuru website. The denial of FOIA is itself an attack on the right to protected speech for the African community, which as colonial subjects inside the stolen borders of the U.S. have in fact enjoyed neither free speech nor the freedom to exercise constitutional rights in this country. The denial of these documents denies our lawyers much-needed materials to fight the bogus charges made against us.

From the assassination and imprisonment of leaders who fought for Black Power in the 1960s, to the bombing of the MOVE in Philadelphia, to over 5,000 lynchings, to the burning of Tulsa to the massive imprisonment of African people, and the gunning down of black people by the police, the U.S. settler colonial state built on slavery and genocide has attempted to silence the voice of African people fighting for freedom and liberation.

The powerful struggle being led by Chairman Yeshitela is pushing back these state attacks. By refusing to be silenced, the Chairman is fighting for the anti-colonial free speech movement guaranteeing the freedom of speech for everyone. Chairman Omali Yeshitela is clear our victory is reliant on the massive outpouring of support for the Uhuru 3. Our victory in court will be won in the streets.

We Will Win!

We Are Winning!

Drop the Charges!

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