July 20 (UPI) – A candidate for mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida, lashed out at black reparations activists, telling them to “return to Africa” during a debate at City Hall.
Paul Congemi, who is running as an independent, sent his rant to Jesse Nevel, the mayoral candidate who chairs the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, a group of white allies in the African People’s Socialist Party that is joining “in a white community to make amends.” “Mr. Nevel, you and your people, you are talking about reparations. About the reparations you are talking about, Mr. Nevel, your people have already received your reparations, ”Conghemi said. “Your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama.”
Despite the angry screams of many of Nevel’s supporters in the crowd, Congemi continued, “My advice to you, my advice to you, if you don’t like here in America, planes leave every hour from Tampa airport. Go back to Africa, Go back to Africa. Come back! Congemi, 60, later detailed his comments in an email to the Tampa Bay Times.
“Yes, I told these people to go back to Africa,” Kongemi wrote. “My comment was for the group that Mr. Nevel represents. Not all African Americans. Only those whom Nevel represents ”.
On his candidate’s Facebook page, 27-year-old Nevel said Congemi’s remarks reflect a larger issue of “fighting for justice for the black community” in the country, which he said is “the defining question that all candidates must answer. “. “I entered this race almost four months ago on the platform of ‘unity through redress’, and we created a powerful broad movement in St. Petersburg, which represents thousands of people who want to unite our racially divided city and who understand that unity without justice is impossible and that justice starts with making amends to the black community, ”he said.
Both Congemi and Nevel run for the mayor of St. Petersburg against Republican and Democratic candidates. And while Kongemi’s comments were against the very platform that Nevel and the Uhuru movement represent, Newell said he is also running against Democratic candidate Rob Krieseman, who he said also attacked the Uhuru Movement.
“Congemi’s comments follow a smear campaign launched by Democratic Party and St. Petersburg police union operatives who supported incumbent President Rick Chrisman, who called my supporters and Uhuru’s movement ‘domestic terrorists,’” he said. As an example, Nevel said that Congemi’s comments overshadowed more substantive discussions in the mayor’s debate, including the question of whether police should continue to patrol public schools in St. Petersburg.
“There have been many publicized acts of horrific police violence against black children in the public education system in St. Petersburg,” he said. “All other candidates, including Chrisman, Baker and Congemi, said yes to continued police work on black children in St. Petersburg schools. I said, “Hell no.”
Both Kreseman and Republican nominee Rick Baker denounced Congemi’s comments. Congemi is running for mayor for the third time, running in 2009 and 2013, receiving a total of 344 votes in two elections. He describes himself as an advocate for the homeless, a retired builder, and a songwriter who opposes the “liberals.”
In 2009, he was banned from visiting a KFC restaurant for cursing the employees, and when the police arrived, he threatened to fire them as soon as he became mayor.
Earlier this year, he was arrested for elder abuse in an incident with his mother, who was diagnosed with pressure sores without care. These charges were eventually dropped.
Despite his controversial comments and past history, Kongemi has also advocated increasing benefits for the homeless and building a charity hospital for people who cannot afford health insurance.