St. Petersburg City Hall was evacuated Thursday morning after a group of activists from the local Uhuru movement stormed a meeting of the St. Pete City Council. The group were said to have left behind a suspicious package.
The Uhuru Solidarity Movement is a group with long-standing demands of reparations for Africans. The Council was in the middle of an unrelated item.
City Hall was evacuated for about 15 minutes as the package was investigated. According to the St. Petersburg Police Department, the owner of the package was identified and the package was removed.
After leaving, activists were reportedly shouting obscenities.
Chanting and banter that ensued during the two to three minutes group members were in City Council chambers were mostly incoherent, but it was clear they were there in support of the organization’s chair Omali Yeshitela.
In December 1966, Yeshitela, then going by the name Joe Waller, led a group of civil rights activists in a march to City Hall, seeking to tear down a mural depicting black men playing music at Pass-a-Grille Beach. Uhurus had taken offense with the painting, calling it racist since it represents characters in a “black face” style now considered offensive.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the event, which led to Yeshitela’s imprisonment.
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