There’s a people’s movement igniting the people of St. Petersburg for radical solutions during these radical times.
It’s a growing movement that has come as a result of two electoral campaigns: Radical Times, Radical Solutions for District 6 City Council and Unity Through Reparations for Mayor.
I, Eritha ‘Akile’ Cainion, running for District Six City Council have been campaigning alongside Jesse Nevel who is running for mayor.
While the masses have enthusiastically embraced our campaigns, both of us have received the most criticism from forces that are still tied to the status quo, from our youthful age to our Uhuru Candidate label.
We are young. But we are old enough to be sick and tired of this system. We are not experienced in corruption. We are not tainted or swayed by promises of riches for selling out the people’s interests. We’re the only honest candidates who don’t aspire to be career politicians.
In fact, our Uhuru candidate label tells the people where our aspirations fall. We have been organizers in our respective communities for social and economic justice to the black community, I being the chair of the Justice for the Three Drowned Black Girls Campaign and Jesse as the president of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement.
We are a part of a movement that has a long-standing record of defending the democratic rights of the black community, a movement that has produced lasting means of economic development for our community, such as the TyRon Lewis Community Gym, Akwaaba Hall Community Center, Black Power 96.3FM radio station, Uhuru Jiko Commercial Kitchen, the Uhuru Flea Market and Health Festival.
So we’re running to create a new beginning for St. Petersburg. We want to bring our experience organizing for justice to city government.
We began our campaigns around the same time in March, where I announced my entrance into this race in front of a closed down Walmart on 22nd Street South, a symbol of the failed policies of a corrupt city government.
Since then this campaign calling for radical solutions, such as reparations and economic development for the black community, has created a surge of enthusiasm among the people of St. Pete.
We have been going door-to-door, meeting as many people as we possibly can to tell about these revolutionary progressive platforms to which we always receive an overwhelming amount of support. When the people hear about uniting a divided city with justice to the black community, it’s clear that the people know these are common sense solutions.
From precinct organizing to weekly candidate rallies, this movement is busy at work getting the message behind this platform out as the status quo attempts to keep the people’s interests silent.
No matter how hard they try though, the will of the people is much greater than that of the bad journalism of corporate media.
This campaign has always made it clear that it’s going up against the status quo, this system of big money controlling the affairs of this city.
The black community is tired of being gentrified out of our community to build and expand a playground for the rich at our people’s expense.
The black community is fed up with the failed public policies of police containment versus genuine economic development. Failed policies that lead to the murders of black teens such as Laniya Miller, Dominique Battle and Ashaunti Butler, who were killed by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department last year. Failed policies that lead to food deserts and economic quarantines within our community.
And as a result of the oppression of the black community, inflicted upon us by this corrupt city government operating in the interests of big money, the entire city is suffering.
St. Pete is no longer affordable in terms of rent; small businesses are being threatened by the sound of billionaire real estate developers buying up the land downtown.
Even the environment is taking huge hits as corrupt politicians sell the city to developers, which caused the 2016 sewage crisis where nearly 300 million gallons of untreated sewage was dumped first into the black community (Clam Bayou) and the Tampa Bay at large.
This status quo, the actions of puppeted politicians have literally turned our city into a toilet.
These conditions have been the reality of the black community since this city’s inception and will continue to affect every citizen of this city until the people come to power.
Until the city’s budget prioritizes people over profit; until the black community has justice, which is in the form of reparations.
It’s a just solution. A common sense solution, yet radical against a system built at the black community’s expense.
Reparations looks like the return of the land under the eyesore of a baseball dome, the Tropicana Field stadium, that rests on the graveyard of the Gas Plant District, a historic black community that held 800 homes and black businesses that were crushed and families displaced while being falsely promised economic development. That land needs to be returned to the black community to build affordable housing and jobs.
And once there is affordable housing in the black community, the entire housing market is relieved of pressure and rents go down for all the residents in this city.
These are the campaigns that big money politicians are working hard to keep silent.
However, this social movement that represents the people’s genuine interests is fighting back.
Finally, there are candidates fighting for economic and social justice who have entered into the electoral arena, taking the issues faced by the poor and working class black community and the people of this city to the forefront.
Issues that these politicians pander and prance around with no real intention to address our communities honestly with real solutions.
This people’s movement has reclaimed the word progressive, saying that there can’t be any real progress while the black community is suffering. That the word progressive can no longer be defined as the amount of high rises and condos constructed to privatize the waterfront, or defined as over-funding the police to contain the black community.
This message and platform has captivated the population for progress in St. Pete and has committed to fighting this battle until the very end.
This movement has made amazing strides, from securing endorsements from the Pinellas County Green Party, New York State Assemblyman Charles Barron, Rev. Mark Greene of the local Traveler’s Rest Baptist Church, the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign along with Rev. Bruce Wright and the founder of the Uhuru Movement Chairman Omali Yeshitela.
We had an amazing fundraiser and ice cream social at Love Food Central, crushing our first District Six debate at the People’s Forum, participating in a hip-hop benefit concert put on by the black community, marching in the St. Pete Pride parade and signing up enthusiastic volunteers, and developing a permanent organization that will exist here in this city for years to come, even after these elections: Communities United for Reparations and Economic Development.
It has been the work of the people, youth and elderly alike, who have made all of this possible. It has been the determination of the people who want to secure a livable future for every resident living in this city that has spread the word of these campaigns, even when big money controlled media fights to keep us out.
The Primary Election is Aug. 29.