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Uhuru activists rally against “pigs” at Tamir Rice protest

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

A group of about 20 Uhuru movement activists took to the Central Avenue transit Center in St. Pete to share their outrage over the latest turn in events in the police shooting of Tamir Rice.

The 12-year old boy was shot to death by police in Ohio while playing in a park with a toy gun. A grand jury failed to return an indictment on the officer who killed him despite public outrage over the incident in which the officer opened fire on the boy almost immediately.

“It’s a playground you dumba–, there’s going to be toy guns,” event organizer Gazi Kodzo shouted into a microphone.

Kodzo then launched into an emotional speech about the pain Rice’s family, particularly his mother, is facing during the holiday season.

“This pig they just let free … he gets to enjoy everything while Tamir Rice’s mom is crying,” Kodzo said to a barrage of cheers.

While the protest was sparked by the Tamir Rice killing, the Uhuru activists took on a similar tone, one many find overly extreme. It’s a dialogue in which cops are called pigs and Black Power sentiment is alive and well.

The group chanted things like, “the pigs in my hood ain’t no good” and “get those pigs off my back.”

The group passionately pled with onlookers to fight back against police brutality and targeting of African-American males.

“Young black men are an endangered species,” said Gaida Kambon.

And Kadzo described police relations in black communities as an occupation explaining that even with hands raised to police, they’re still going to shoot.

“So you might as well go down fighting,” he continued. “Choke it. Beat it. Whatever you need to do to stop white power.”

While the Uhuru message is often times more bombastic than similar black rights movements like Black Lives Matter, the overall frustration in the African-American community is palatable.

Cars zooming past on First Avenue North honked in solidarity with many passengers shouting from the windows. One woman on her way home even stopped to join the rally.

“Nobody should be treated like that,” said St. Pete resident Linda McQuade after grabbing a sign to wave.

Findings in a study on the website Mapping Police Violence found there were at least 101 unarmed black people this year, more than any other race and more than six times the rate of unarmed white people killed. The same study found that only seven of those cases resulted in charges filed against the officer or officers involved.

Though high profile killings like Michael Brown launched a national movement against police killings of unarmed black men and drew attention to what many describe as a growing epidemic, the Tamir Rice case was perhaps the most shocking.

Photos of the pre-teen show a chubby-cheeked cherub-looking boy grinning ear to ear. The place where he was shot, a playground, only adds to the tragic dialogue.

The Uhuru rally in St. Pete launched what the group expects to be a national series beginning cities like Atlanta, Chicago and Ferguson.

The group is not only spreading a message to fight back against police brutality, they are also fighting to stop what they describe as mass incarcerations of black people and overly hostile educational environments.

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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