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St. Petersburg City Hall evacuated when suspicious package spotted after Uhuru demonstration

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

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.

Check back with SaintPetersblog for updates.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email

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