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‘Ride Against Racism’ protestors call for return of Tropicana Field site




Jesse Nevel (speaking) and Themba Tshibanda (right) of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement address protestors Saturday. Photo by Joe Opaleski.

A group of around 40 protestors took to Central Avenue Saturday evening to demonstrate unity with the Black community.

A local activist group, St. Pete Solidarity, helped organize the mobile event; attendees were encouraged to show up on anything with wheels.

Themba Tshibanda of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement and Rev. Andy Oliver of Allendale United Methodist Church spoke on the steps of City Hall to advocate reparations and police abolition.

“No matter how much I like you, I can’t get close to you,” Tshibanda, who is Black, said to his white audience members. “You owe me reparations.”

After a sermon from Rev. Oliver and a safety briefing telling participants to drink water, be peaceful and retreat from any threat of conflict, a Ford F150 decorated in Black Lives Matter flags began leading the group through downtown. Participants rode in cars and on rollerblades, bicycles and skateboards.

St. Pete Solidarity members called the event a success on social media, but also said it was also a prelude to a larger demonstration that will protest redevelopment plans for Tropicana Field.

The “March for Reparations to the Black Community” is set to go from the St. Pete Uhuru House to the Trop site during the Rays/Mets game May 15, and will demand that city leaders return the 86 acres of land formerly known as the Gas Plant District.

RELATED STORY: City Council wants to ‘hit the pause button’ on Trop redevelopment and work with the Rays

RELATED STORY: Developer adds $5 million small business grant fund to its plan for Trop site

Pamphlets promoting the march are calling redevelopment plans the “Tropiscam II.”

Tshibanda told his audience at the protest that business leaders should not be able to continue profiting from the Trop’s site.

“White people’s business endeavors failed at the expense of the Black community,” he said.

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