On August 6, three teenage black boys, Dejarae Thomas, Keontae Brown, and Jimmie Goshey were chased to their deaths by Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputies in the dead of morning.
An act of genocide.
Immediately after this murder, the Sheriff’s Department and the media got to work slandering these boys, so that when day broke the story for the world would be that three teenage black boys deserved to die because their lives are less valued than that of a car.
However, that was not the sentiment expressed by two candidates running for political office: myself, Eritha “Akile” Cainion for District Six City Council and Jesse Nevel for Mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida, who actually came out to denounce the murders of the three boys.
The campaigns to elect both candidates held two press conferences, one on August 7th, where persons like Hekima Ukimbizi and Iniko Kitemoma, 16-year-old Gibbs High students as well as Lara Mustapich, a senior at Gibbs High, made statements in regards to how these murders affected them. James McLynas, former candidate for Sheriff, also spoke about the Sheriff’s Department’s two-tiered chase tactics, where deputies conduct illegal chases in most cases while the victims are black.
The second press conference took place on August 11th in front of the Holocaust Museum. It began as a salute to the families of Keontae, Jimmie, and Dejarae and issued a promise from this movement to stand behind them through this time.
One of the featured speakers was Kunde Mwamvita, the mother of Dominique Battle, a 16- year-old girl that was drowned by Pinellas County Sheriff’s Deputies along with her two friends Laniya Miller, and Ashaunti Butler, in March of last year.
The message of Kunde was to the families who have to endure the loss of their children while simultaneously being attacked by this social system, seeing their children slandered in the media, their parenting skills questioned, and their entire community demoralized. Kunde says:
“I stand here today in total unity and solidarity with the families of Dejarae Thomas, Jimmie Goshey, and Keontae Brown and say that I have nothing but tremendous sympathy.
To have had to endure the same circumstances of losing my child to the police and one year later experiencing the same pain. Because as a black mother I feel this. Because those kids were my kids too. They were children of the black community, and this community stands with you. We are fighting for you.”
Then came the statements of myself laying out the case, the eery similarities to that of the murder of the three drowned black girls, and declaring this murder another act of genocide carried out by this social system.
Genocide, as defined by the United Nations, is as follows:
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
Killing members of the group;
Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
The word genocide wasn’t coined until 1944 to describe what had happened to the Jewish population in Nazi, Germany. Never mind what happened to the Indigenous people as Europe invaded and colonized North America or the capture and enslavement of African people. Never mind the 600 years of colonial domination, rape, theft, and crimes against humanity committed against Africa and African people, America, and almost every place on the planet earth through U.S. imperialist wars and the birth of a parasitic capitalist economy.
It wasn’t until Jewish people experienced a crime against them in Europe that the word genocide was created to explain the reality that black people in this country and around the world have been confronted with for centuries.
This is why this press conference was held in front of the Holocaust Museum. Jesse Nevel says:
“We are holding this press conference here because we believe that if right here in St. Petersburg Florida if it is right to stand up against a systematic mass murder when it is committed against Jews, then it is right to stand up when it is happening to the black community right here in our own city.
And if it was right for the German government to take measures to right the wrongs committed against the Jews, then it is right for the U.S. to pay reparations to the Black community for the crimes that are still being committed, and we can start that process in the city of St. Petersburg.”
This is why Jesse and I are building a people’s movement united around reparations to the black community. Reparations is not only payback for the stolen exploited labor of the black community, but it is an acknowledgment of a crime and our commitment to making sure that these attacks can never happen again.
A stance against genocide, against the Holocaust, against the oppression of anyone, has to be a stance for justice and reparations to the black community.
It has to be in support of these children who have been murdered by the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Department time and time again.
That’s why this election, you should support the only two candidates that have stood up for these children, their families, and have gone up against the status quo. The only real progressive candidates with a message of unity through reparations.
Stand on the right side of history this election and vote on August 29th for Eritha ‘Akile’ Cainion for District Six and Jesse Nevel for Mayor!
Eritha “Akile” Cainion