As the July 29 one-year anniversary of the FBI raids on properties belonging to the African People’s Socialist Party, its solidarity committee and the Uhuru Movement passes, the US Peace Council condemns the violent and illegal state attack on the rights and freedoms of Chairman Omali Yeshitela, Penny Hess and Jesse Nevel, known as the “Uhuru 3”, and those whom they serve.
Early in the morning of July 29, 2022, FBI agents entered the homes and offices of APSP/Uhuru Movement leaders, handcuffed them for hours while agents stole electronics and archival materials, and locked down their communities using a heavy law enforcement presence. In May of this year, the Department of Justice fabricated charges against the Uhuru 3, alleging without evidence that they were foreign agents whose activism was being driven by and serving the interests of Russia. In reality, the three have a decades-long history of opposing the colonization and exploitation of peoples around the world and of criticizing US policies.
The U.S. Peace Council echoes the call by the Uhuru 3 to drop the charges against them as embodied in their recent motion to the court and supports their resistance to pressure by the state to plead guilty or face long prison sentences. The US Peace Council also opposes state restrictions on their freedom to travel and the sanctioning of their bank accounts, which undermine the work they do across the country for the economic empowerment and health of poor communities.
It is clear that the charges against the Uhuru 3 are politically motivated in that they are being applied selectively. There are think tanks in Washington, DC that receive large amounts of financial support from foreign governments to advocate their interests that have not been indicted or sanctioned for their work. This is a direct attack on people who work for black liberation and against colonization and imperialism.
The United States’ charges against the Uhuru 3 set a dangerous precedent threatening the First Amendment rights of all people. For the first time, the state is using the statute 18 US Code 951 — Agents of Foreign Governments — to criminalize free speech and dissenting opinions. The Uhuru 3 are being targeted for their opposition to the proxy war in Ukraine and support of the Russian people in their struggle against security threats by NATO. This maneuver is part of the escalating attack on dissent in the United States, which includes labeling water defenders in Louisiana, who oppose fossil fuel projects, and forest defenders in Georgia, who oppose “Cop City,” as “domestic terrorists” as well as the egregious charges against the “Tampa 5” in Florida.
The U.S. Peace Council is joining the new Hands Off Uhuru Fightback Coalition to work for the freedom of the Uhuru 3 and defend our First Amendment rights. We join the call to mobilize in Washington, DC on November 4, 2023, for the March on the White House to bring these demands to the President’s doorstep.
U.S. Peace Council
July 28, 2023