St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Jesse Nevel is organizing a “major public event” this week in response to racially charged statements made by fellow candidate Paul Congemi.
After video emerged of Congemi berating supporters of the International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement, telling them to “go back to Africa,” Nevel — the Uhuru-backed candidate — announced he will hold a “St. Pete Rally for Racial Justice and Reparations” Tuesday in the city’s downtown Williams Park. The event begins 6:30 p.m.
Last week, during a question at a mayoral forum about opportunities for youths, Congemi went on a bizarre rant leveled against Nevel: “You and your people, you talk about reparations … The reparations that you talk about, Mr. Nevel, your people already got your reparations … Your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama.”
Congemi continued: “My advice to you, my advice to you, if you don’t like it here in America, planes leave every hour from Tampa airport. Go back to Africa, go back to Africa.”
Video of Congemi’s comments went viral with millions of views worldwide and was picked up by international media including The Washington Post, USA TODAY, Russia Today, Teen Vogue, BET, Essence magazine and others.
According to Nevel, Congemi’s tirade has “raised concern for local government and community leaders about the city’s reputation before the eyes of the world.”
“We want the world to see, Congemi does not speak for St. Petersburg,” Nevel said in a statement.
Nevel, whose campaign theme is “Unity Through Reparations,” is running on a platform that St. Petersburg’s $500 million budget has “ample room to redirect resources to economically uplift and develop the black community.” He also suggests using funds from the Penny for Pinellas infrastructure sales tax, as well as calling for a “reparations tax” on major corporations.
The committee to elect Eritha “Akile” Cainion for St. Petersburg City Council is co-sponsoring the event. Ebony magazine recently profiled Cainion, a 20-year-old black activist running in the crowded District 6 race.
Nevel has also invited incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman and former two-term Mayor Rick Baker, who is also running for his old job, to speak at the rally.