Tampa Bay Times slanders three black candidates. Akile responds!

The Tampa Bay Times has stooped to a new low this morning with the publication of a racist, slanderous article about the arrest records of three black candidates in the city council elections taking place in St. Petersburg, Florida.

As a candidate for district 7, I was named, and a picture of my face prominently featured, as one such candidate “accused of a crime,” despite the fact that all of the charges against me were dropped after I was arrested and brutally attacked by a St. Pete police officer in 2017. I was never brought to court and I have no record to speak of. The Tampa Bay Times knows all of this, but they played it down with the deceptively worded explanation that I was “not formally charged.” 

While it was clear to me that the primary target of the attack in this desperate, manipulative piece was my anti-gentrification platform of reparations for black people, it was also clear to me that in fact, the entire black community was being targeted by this hatchet-job of a “news” article.

Other media outlets have already criticized the Tampa Bay Times for the racist overtones of this morning’s piece, pointing out that the picture accompanying the article featured the three black candidates in district 7, despite the fact that the majority (totaling four) of the candidates with criminal records were white people. 

I am outraged, not only in my own defense, but in defense of the other two black candidates in the race who were portrayed as the faces of criminality by the Tampa Bay Times. This was an attack not just on me but on black people as a whole! We are constantly under attack, being criminalized and demonized by the ruling class media who spew the same anti-black narrative you might expect from the mouth of Donald Trump.

My community is a good community. We are not the faces of crime. We are the victims of a system that commits offenses and crimes against us daily. It is my community that suffers the brunt of being starved and pushed out of our neighborhoods by gentrification, big development and crooked politicians, the ruling elite whose interests the Tampa Bay Times obediently serves.

The dishonest Tampa Bay Times has barely printed one word about this election, except for now when they can seize an opportunity to justify the most base fears and prejudices about my community. Their goal is to whip up reactionary fervor and support for anti-black public policy that includes militarized police in our communities, police harassment of our children on school campuses, building more prisons and jails to stuff us into and more gentrification. 

Most importantly, I am determined to change this reality that we face, and I am backed by a growing people’s movement, led by the black community and winning support and solidarity from thousands of white people as well who want to stand on the forward side of history. 

We will stop at nothing to take back our city for the neighborhoods and the people, beginning with reparations and justice for those of us who are the most constant targets of oppression and slander: the black community. That is the centerpiece for any truly progressive agenda that will benefit, unite and uplift the whole city. We are winning!

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