Standing with the Uhuru Movement in the Bronx
The Bronx Greens hereby condemn the recent charges against the African People’s Socialist Party (the Uhuru Movement). As citizens and patriots, we call out these indictments as inherently:
- A violation of US rights to freedom of association
- An outright transgression of the First Amendment – and human rights overall
On April 18th, 2023, Joe Biden’s Department of Justice announced indictments against four US citizens – members of the African People’s Socialist Party - on the following charges: unregistered relations with Russian native Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, and allegedly “sowing discord and spreading pro-Russian propaganda.”
Whether or not Mr. Ionov is connected to the Russian government, let’s look at the insidious underlying assumptions, and the contradictions to US practice in other realms:
- That those in the US who interact (by funding or otherwise) with foreign governments or nationals should automatically be required to identify as “agents”.
- The implicit assertion that anyone who opposes current US State Department foreign policy should be painted as a “hostile foreign interest”… vs. simply a US citizen with opposing views.
The Uhuru Movement began in 1972 – an American based socialist and African internationalist movement founded on Marxism, sharing many views Malcolm X embraced in his later years, including the description of the US criminal justice system as an occupying colonial force against African Americans, and stressing the pragmatic need to reach out internationally to counter such oppressive structures. Malcolm X himself called for the UN to intervene in human rights violations committed by United States.
58 years have passed since Malcolm X’s assassination – but the struggle continues. The names tragically never end: Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Elijah McClain, Tyre Nichols, Philando Castile… the list goes on. Every year police in the US shoot and kill almost 1,000 people; that’s 5,000 lives ended since 2015(1). The harsh reality: that Blacks are shot and killed by US police at 2.5 times the rate of whites(2). Grassroots organizations such as the Uhuru Movement stand as a crucial counter to such systemic crimes.
One cannot in any honesty argue such concerns are stirred by “foreign propaganda”. Such charges were levied against MLK, Jr. in his time. They ring just as hollow now. Fights for human rights exist in all countries. To claim they’re the result of “outside agitators” is a deflection from the issues those in power fear to openly discuss – not to mention an overt, racist insult to those who are implicitly painted as “brainless puppets”. As Omali Yeshitela - leader of Uhuru Movement - commented shortly before the DOJ charges: “They have declared that Black people are so stupid that it takes Russians to tell us that we are oppressed. I have never known a moment of Black freedom for my entire life.” Whether or not “Russians” are involved, the facts of US injustice remains.
Does Joe Biden’s Department of Justice view US citizens – and in this instance, people of color – to be incapable of critical thinking, unable to evaluate political assertions independently? Given Biden’s racist policies and statements throughout his decades in office, those who are honest know the answer to that.
But suppose Aleksandr Ionov does have Russian government connections – what then?
Should US citizens be prosecuted from reaching out for foreign aid? If Swedish nationals were to offer residents of Flint assistance with their infrastructure (a problem that’s festered since 2014, through three US administrations)… should they be prohibited from doing so?
There are those who argue the problem is not the interaction with “foreign nationals” per se– but rather, a failure to disclose. In that light, let’s look at Israeli “birth right” tours. In these programs, young adults are offered free trips by the Israeli government – airfare, meals, and other accommodations included – all designed to encourage US citizens to return to their homeland, and speak positively of a rightwing, apartheid, ethnic cleansing theocracy which depends on continualUS support to thrive. Such is the very definition of “foreign propaganda”. But are US youth who partake in such programs required to register as “foreign agents”? No? Then why are members of Uhuru singled out?
Arguing Israel is an “ally” and Russia an “enemy” is a further dodge… a semantic distinction biased in favor of whatever US government is in power. If propaganda is not equally recognized as such when it serves ruling interests, then the goal is truly not “protecting citizens from disinformation.” Rather, such laws serve as a half-cloaked mechanism for criminalizing dissent.
Lastly – and perhaps most disturbingly - Biden’s DOJ charges members of the Uhuru movement of pushing propaganda for their views on Ukraine. In that region, the conflict has led to the deaths of thousands, and threatens to trigger WW3. (Before February 2022, fighting in the Donbass is documented to have killed approximately 14,000. And though the number is far from certain or fixed, to date the subsequent war has killed or injured 354,000 more.) The factors involved in that conflict include issues of political sovereignty, provocation and self-defense – a complex interplay of principles US media and government narrative is always loathe to discuss. But regardless of one’s personal conclusions:
US citizens have a right to their political views, no matter how much the status quo might not like what they say. Dissenting opinions on economics, rights, wars (include the Ukraine), etc are sacrosanct. We have a right to speak out as US citizens. Blue, red (or otherwise), the party doesn’t matter. Principles always do.
If the Bronx is known for anything, it’s calling out bullshit. In times like these, no punches should be pulled - our civil rights are at stake.
As Bronx Greens, we stand in solidarity with the members of the Uhuru movement. Any administration which attempts to penalize free speech is an enemy of the people. We’re calling that out. You should, too.
1. Police in the U.S. have shot and killed more than 5,000 people since 2015
The Washington Post (Accessed 04/26/2023).
2. Police shootings database 2015-2023: Search by race, age, department
Washington Post (Accessed 04/26/2023).
3. Highlights: The Breonna Taylor Verdict: Police Impunity & Trauma
(bronxgreenparty.org) (Accessed 04/26/2023). This article gives a detailed statistical analysis on the number and the proportion to the rest of the US population the rates that Blacks in the US are killed by police.
4. Two barrels aim at African People's Socialist Party