Uhuru Movement member, Akilé Anai (Eritha Cainion) files to run for St. Pete City Council

Eritha Cainion (traditionally known as Akilé Anai) filed paperwork this week at City Hall for the council seat to be vacated by term-limited Karl Nurse. She joins an already crowded field of candidates, including: local NAACP president Maria Scruggs, Lakewood Terrace activist and South St. Petersburg CRA advisory board member Corey Givens and perennial candidate Sharon Russ.

Cainion says she has discussed financial and grassroots support with the Uhuru movement, but considers herself a non-partisan candidate that will accept support from across the city. 

Cainion runs the campaign “Justice for the Three Drowned Black Girls,” formed after the deaths of 16-year-old Dominique Battle and 15-year-olds Ashuanti Butler and LaNiya Miller who drowned after a stolen car they were driving plunged into a pond in a cemetery near Gandy Boulevard in March 2016.

Some activists, including the Uhurus, have contended the the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office acted negligently and criminally while pursuing the girls and not trying hard enough to save them. 

Cainion said the group plans to file a wrongful death lawsuit next month on the annivesary of the girls’ death.

A graduate of St. Petersburg College, Cainion says she’s making her first run for political office because she’s lived her entire life in the city and sees a need for radical change.

“I haven’t seen anyone doing anything for the black community ever,” Cainion said. 

Her campaign manager is Ona Zene Yeshitela, the wife of Omali Yeshitela, the Uhuru Movement founder.

In a brief phone conversation, Ona Yeshitela said she didn’t want to comment on whether Cainion would run as a Uhuru Movement candidate.

Omali Yeshitela ran unsuccessully for mayor in 2001.

The 6th District covers much of Midtown, downtown and parts of Old Northeast.

City Council races are non-partisan although partisan politics have become more pronounced in recent years in city politics. The primary is Aug. 29.



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