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UNITED STATES Black peace groups slam FBI raid over ‘Russia links’

The Black Alliance for Peace (BAP) condemned on Saturday a security service raid on the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) in Florida and Missouri, saying it refused to be intimidated.

Federal Bureau of Investigation officers launched multiple raids on the organisation’s headquarters in St Petersburg, Florida and the Uhuru Solidarity Centre in St Louis, Missouri, on Friday. 

The private residence of APSP chairman Omali Yeshitela was also stormed by officers who threw flashing grenades into the house before handcuffing him and his wife. 

Authorities claimed the raids were necessary, accusing the group of being linked to Russian government official Aleksandr Ionov.

Prosecutors accuse Mr Ionov of directing US political groups as part of a campaign to sow division, spread pro-Russian propaganda and interfere in elections.

“Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, who lives in Moscow, orchestrated on behalf of the Russian government a years-long foreign malign influence campaign against the US,” the Department of Justice said in a press statement on Friday. 

He worked with US political groups to inflame political discord and spread disinformation, prosecutors said.

But the APSP hit back in press conference after the raids. 

“We can have relationships with whoever we want to make this revolution possible,” Eritha “Akile” Cainion said, adding: “We are in support of Russia.” 

“Russia is not in your community causing you to starve. Russia is not in your community pushing you out. Russia is not the St Pete police department that killed TyRon Lewis in 1996,” she said, referring to an 18-year-old shot and killed by police. “It was not Russia, it was the US government that did that.”

Mr Yeshitela denied taking money from the Russians, though he acknowledged he had visited Russia.

”They have accused us of taking money from Russia,” he said. “We’ve never taken from the Russian government. 

“But I’m not saying that because I’m morally opposed from taking money from Russians or anyone else who wants to support the struggles for black people.”

He said the US government was using his group as a “pawn” in its propaganda war against Russia.

“Don’t tell us that we can’t have friends that you don’t like,” he said.

BAP said the repression of APSP was “a hysterical response to the United States’ loss of legitimacy in the context of the deepening crisis of capitalism and US global hegemony.

“The unleashing of policing and counter-intelligence forces domestically and increased militarism and war-mongering abroad in the name of national security are the only avenues left to the US ruling class that is engulfed in an irreversible economic crisis. 

“They represent the hallmarks of a naked fascism that the US ruling class appears to be increasingly committed to in order to maintain the rule of capital,” it said. 

“BAP reminds the public that the war against working class people generally, and black, brown, and indigenous workers particularly, is ongoing. The masses must acknowledge and resist this reality. 

“While it is APSP today, it will ultimately be the rest of us tomorrow. Resistance is our only option.”

BAPS said it is not intimidated and “will not retreat,” remaining committed to rebuilding the broad anti-war, anti-imperialist peace movement. 

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