Story of the St. Pete Three – Push Back Petty Merchants

It seemed to happen suddenly

ST. PETERSBURG, FL–Three members of the African People’s Socialist Party were slammed against pig cars and stuffed into the backs of them.

This was the case on the night of December 20th, 2017 for Diakiesse Lungisani─Station Manager for Black Power 96.3 FM (BP96) radio, Themba Tshibanda─Underwriting Manager for BP96 and Akilé Anai─Director of Agitation and Propaganda for the African People’s Socialist Party.

There were factors predating the arrest, however.

A day before the incident, Comrade Themba walked into a corner store, mirroring that of stores found around the U.S. littered throughout African communities.

Those stores with an almost unbearable stench, sticky floors and an overall filthy facility with expired food and drug paraphernalia (typically sold to underaged Africans); but it’s the only thing seemingly accessible in our community.                                                                                             

It was this sort of establishment that Themba had entered  and proceeded to shop until he heard an African woman being verbally attacked by the store employee who also happened to be a Palestinian Arab; another common characteristic of corner stores.

As a member of the Party, Themba knew that he had to defend this African woman, shopping in her community and undeserving of the treatment she was receiving from this other colonized individual.

Themba attempted to explain the political contradiction of the store employee yelling at an African woman while occupying and extracting resources from her community.

He compared it to the situation that he (the Palestinian Arab) would have had to face back in his country.

“You’re treating us now how they treat you in occupied Palestine. White power forces you out of your home and you come here looking for a better way of life and you do it at our expense.

You come in our community selling this stuff that’s no good for us, disrespect us, call the pigs, but you expect to be able to do business here.

You can’t yell at this African woman and continue to sell your stuff here.”

The force that Themba described is a “petty merchant.”

They are people who come from colonized and oppressed countries, dominated by white power imperialism, whose land and communities are under violent attack by imperialist armies.

In order to live a decent life, these forces leave their homelands and settle in African communities around the world including Africa, Europe, and the Caribbean.

They occupy our community in the form of these stores, beauty shops, tourist boutiques, etc. and are generally extremely vicious.

They sustain themselves by extracting capital from our community and in turn, attack us.

In some cases, they draw their guns and have even murdered African people.

They also use the State in the form of the police to grant them permission to carry out this type of violence against our people, which was the same thing that this petty merchant did when it came to Comrade Themba.

The petty merchant banned Themba from the store and called the police to get him off the premises.

The following day, Themba returns to the store and finds the store owner there. The store owner apologizes on behalf of his employee and removes the ban.

That evening, Themba returned back to the store where he was met with hostility from the employee from the previous day.

The petty merchant called the police and even reported that Themba was armed.

Once the police were called again as a weapon against the African working class, Themba began to walk home which was merely down the street from the store.

The pigs then encircled him with their cars as Comrade Themba simply tried to walk away.

The main aggressor was a black neocolonial pig. He initiated his assault by demanding Themba to put his hands on the car within a two-second time span.

When it appeared Themba was taking a second too long, the sell-out pig whipped out a pair of cuffs and slapped them on his wrists.

This arrest took place merely feet away from their home, causing Diakiesse and Akilé to take action.

Both the Comrades came outside to investigate why it was that the police had Themba in custody.

They were met with hostility and no answers and because they stood their ground and would not leave without an explanation, the police pounced on Diakiesse first, slamming him against the car door and yanking his arms behind his back.

Akilé began to walk back towards the house while on the phone and the neocolonial pig demanded her arrest as well.

He pulled her hair, shoved her face onto the hood of the car and tightened her cuffs to the point of bleeding.

All three of them were later booked and charged with “disorderly conduct” and “resisting arrest without violence”.

While in jail, Comrades of the African People’s Socialist Party waged a fierce call-in campaign to free the “St. Pete Three”.

This arrest was not your ordinary one. It was made as a result of an African man, specifically an African revolutionary, defending an African woman in the face of a white power petty merchant.

We have to say “no” to petty merchants operating in our community at our expense. If other colonized peoples want to conduct business in our community, it must be on OUR terms! 

African people must also be engaged in organizing and struggling for economic development in our own hands.

Our community has to be economically self-reliant, so that we can shop amongst ourselves, within our own communities and knowing we are getting the best quality products and people working in our interests.

Push Back Petty Merchants!

Build African Self-Determination!

Salute to the Courageous Struggle of the St. Pete Three!



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