Friday, September 21, 2018
News Roundup

Uhurus vow to remove any mural that replaces one torn down 50 years ago in St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG

The City Hall Stairwell Mural Public Art Project Committee has spent months working to replace a mural torn down in protest 50 years ago by Uhuru founder Omali Yeshitela.

In recent weeks, the committee has sought input from Yeshitela, who served 2½ years in prison for tearing down a mural that depicted black entertainers in caricature entertaining white beachgoers.

On Tuesday, the committee got its answer: Two dozen Uhuru protesters shut down the meeting just four minutes after it started.

Members of the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement declared that only they can pick the next mural — and they'll tear down anything the city puts up.

As committee chairwoman Gwendolyn Reese began to approve the past meeting's minutes, Gazi Kodzo, president of the local Uhuru chapter, shouted over her and criticized the entire process.

"The city of St. Pete thinks that it has the legitimacy to replace that mural," Kodzo said. "The same city that locked up (Yeshitela) for his heroic act."

Committee members had tried to tell Kodzo to wait until the public could speak. When he refused, Reese continued to approve minutes while Kodzo, 26, read a statement.

Kodzo didn't let up. Reese canceled the meeting.

As committee members began to pack up and leave, Kodzo jumped on the meeting table while protesters cheered him on.

"Tear it down! Tear it down!" the group chanted as it stormed out of the room.

Reese said all the committee was doing was following its own meeting rules.

"Public comment was next," she said. "And public comment could have gone on all day, but they didn't let us do that."

Yeshitela did not attend the meeting.

In February, the Uhurus interrupted the committee and protested the city's attempt to replace the mural. The committee invited Yeshitela to participate. But neither he nor his organization showed up to a June 28 public meeting. So the committee sent a formal invitation on June 29.

When the committee followed up on July 7, requesting a response by the next day, a Uhuru spokeswoman called the deadline "an insult." Yeshitela told the Tampa Bay Times on July 8 that the request for a response was the first correspondence from the arts committee that he'd received.

As protesters shouted in the lobby and on the steps in front of City Hall on Tuesday, an artist shouted back. Geary Taylor of St. Petersburg said he came to the meeting with a resume, hoping he could work on the replacement.

As he and Kodzo yelled at each other, protesters shouted "sellout" and a racial slur at Taylor, who is black.

"I didn't expect that," Taylor said.

He said he thought the Uhurus, the city and local artists should work together in the selection process.

"You aren't the only deciding factor on this," he said of the protesters.

But Kodzo said the group is uninterested in working with the city.

"We are here to let this arts committee know that they are illegitimate," he said.

"If they decide to put anything else up … and we don't agree with it, we're tearing it down," he added.

He said the group has decided on what will replace the mural and will announce its plans Sunday at the Uhuru house on 18th Avenue S.

After the meeting, committee member Herb Snitzer said he wasn't surprised by the protest, which he called "grand theater."

"They have a tendency of doing that," he said.

Contact Langston Taylor at 727-893-8368. Follow @LangstonITaylor.

   
Comments
Temperatures remain high through weekend after record-setting day in Tampa

Temperatures remain high through weekend after record-setting day in Tampa

Weather in Tampa on Thursday took one step above the previous record high, then another for good measure.The high temperature in Tampa reached 96 degrees Thursday, according to the National Weather Service. That beat the old record of 94 by two degre...
Updated: 5 minutes ago
St. Petersburg man accused of sexually abusing sisters, 18 and 11

St. Petersburg man accused of sexually abusing sisters, 18 and 11

ST. PETERSBURG -- A St. Petersburg man faces charges after deputies say he sexually battered an 11-year-old girl and her 18-year-old sister.According to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, the victims had been placed in the care of 33-year-old Andr...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Florida man likes to garden in the nude, and his neighbors don't approve

Florida man likes to garden in the nude, and his neighbors don't approve

STUART — Being in touch with nature is one thing. But gardening au naturel is quite another for some neighbors of a Florida man who's been doing yard work in the nude.The miffed residents tell news outlets they've called the Martin County Sher...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Heisman watch: Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins joins the mix

Heisman watch: Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins joins the mix

5. Ohio State QB Dwayne Haskins: Putting up 352 yards of offense on TCU is enough to join the top five.4. Houston DL Ed Oliver: Leads all active players with 1.57 tackles for a loss per game and should pad that stat against poor Texas Southern.3. Wes...
Updated: 2 hours ago
The Daystarter: Preserving the heartbeats of children who have died; staggering blow to Rays’ playoff hopes; MegaCon has landed

The Daystarter: Preserving the heartbeats of children who have died; staggering blow to Rays’ playoff hopes; MegaCon has landed

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what to know today.   • Did you know that Tampa had a record high of 95 degrees on Thursday? That’s because the rains came too late to cool things down. Well that won’t be an issue toda...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Could Trump starve a Tampa Bay transit project of federal funds?

Could Trump starve a Tampa Bay transit project of federal funds?

ST. PETERSBURG — The Central Avenue Bus Rapid Transit line has succeeded where other Tampa Bay transit projects have failed. The project aimed at connecting downtown to the beaches has avoided anti-transit sentiment while securing money and support f...
Updated: 3 hours ago
College football Week 4 viewing guide

College football Week 4 viewing guide

Lamest time window: Early. Just make sure you're around for the late afternoon/evening slate.Noon: No. 8 Notre Dame has had back-to-back shaky weeks. A third in a row could mean a loss at Wake Forest.3:30: It's not saying much, but No. 22 Texas A&M w...
Updated: 3 hours ago
How do you really feel, Carlos Gomez?

How do you really feel, Carlos Gomez?

Rays veteran OF Carlos Gomez made his feelings about being ejected from Thursday's game by home plate umpire Andy Fletcher quite clear in a series of Twitter posts and a live video.Gomez was in the dugout complaining about being called out on strikes...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Pinellas education news: college fairs, lectures and more

Pinellas education news: college fairs, lectures and more

Students, parents invited to three upcoming college and career fairsThree events are scheduled over the next two weeks that are designed to help students plan their next steps after leaving the Pinellas County school system. The University of South F...
Published: 09/21/18
Former Tampa Bay exec and Chico’s CEO Shelley Broader discusses changing retail in St. Pete visit

Former Tampa Bay exec and Chico’s CEO Shelley Broader discusses changing retail in St. Pete visit

ST. PETERSBURG — When Shelley Broader worked in Tampa Bay, she was turning around a failing grocery store.It was the early 2000s. Amazon wasn’t a powerhouse yet, people were still on Myspace and no one was ordering groceries online. On Thursday, she ...
Updated: 2 hours ago