From: Omali Yeshitela
Subject: arrests have begun
Date: Wed, 11 May 2005 22:52:08 EDT
On Sunday night the St. Petersburg Police Department initiated a rebellion in the impoverished Childs Park area of the African community in St. Petersburg. Since the late April killing of 19-year-old Jarrell Walker by the Pinellas County Sheriff Department the local police have been especially anxious about any congregation of masses of young African people, especially in the parks. And although there is a history of police harassment of young Africans in the Childs Park area where the people simply come together to listen to music, the police actions on Sunday were provocative.
Claiming they had a complaint of too much noise the police demanded that the people leave the park, something the people complied with but then demanded the right to stand on the street outside the park. The police then began to pepper spray the people to force them to leave, setting off a melee.
On Monday the Uhuru Movement held a press conference that exposed the police actions. We had witnesses to the police attack and others who testified of the traditional harassment of the people by the police. On today, Wednesday, the police began a series of arrests of some of the people who had been in the park. Among the two people arrested on Wednesday was Dorian Williams. Williams is the 30-year-old cousin of Jarrel Walker, the teenager who was murdered by the police in April. Dorian had been in the house when Jarrell was killed and was threatened by the sheriff's deputies at that time, being told that if he held his head up to look while they cleaned the scene of the murder they would put their foot in his face.
We are convinced that the series of arrests occurring now constitute a blatant attack on the right to free speech and are part of an effort to cover up the crimes of the police on Sunday and to quiet a witness to the sheriff's murder of Jarrell Walker in April. We also suspect that the arrests have only just begun and could continue to include members of the Uhuru Movement who were also present at the park on Sunday when the rebellion occurred.
This brief outline is our effort to keep you informed of the events as they are occurring here on the ground. Clearly the State considers itself confronted with a problem here because of their inability to murder an African without some kind of meaningful consequence delivered by the community. Please share this email with all those you think are sympathetic to the cause of African liberation and justice.