On Monday, March 6, 2017, 20-year-old Eritha “Akilé” Cainion threw her hat into the race to become the next councilperson for District 6 in St. Petersburg. She made the announcement while standing in front of the recently shutdown St. Petersburg, Florida Walmart with her proud parents and a group of enthusiastic supporters.
“I am 20 years old and for all these 20 years I have lived in this city, specifically in this neighborhood. In all these 20 years, the St. Petersburg city government has done nothing but work against the black community. I have entered this election because the black community is and has been under assault by the leaders of this city,” declared Akilé.
Cainion denounced the city’s policies that impose poverty and police containment on the black community. She called for new positive policies of economic development, public safety through black community control of the police, reparations and an end to gentrification.
“I am knowingly and willing running against a rigged election system that they have painted as a single member district where our democratic rights are insulted. Where our community is under the impression that we have the ability to vote in the leadership of our districts in the primary elections until the general elections are opened up to the entire city and the final vote is cast by the white community. This is a farce and strips this community of every ounce of political power,” Cainion explained.
“The economy of St. Pete was built from the labor of black people. Reparations are owed to the black community because this city has destroyed thriving black neighborhoods, crippling this community and restricting us from being economically self-reliant,” Cainion expounded.
Cainion’s Deputy Campaign Manager, Ona Zené Yeshitela, praised the candidate’s work as leader of the “Three Drowned Black Girls campaign” (3DBG). The campaign seeks justice for three black teen girls who were driven into a pond by Pinellas County Sheriff’s department deputies, who stood on the scene watching as the young girls screamed for their lives, their car sinking into the pond.
Akilé’s father, Ntambwe Gashaye Bhekizitha, a local barber, and her mother, Miezi Tadiwa Bhekizitha, stood by their daughter and spoke of her strong leadership skills and love of service to the people, exhibited since she was a little girl. Other supporters at the announcement included St. Petersburg local International People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) president, Liu Montsho Kwayara, 17, and St. Pete boxing great, former undisputed light middleweight world champion Winky Wright.
Eritha “Akilé” Cainion closed her announcement statement by calling on all residents of St. Petersburg to be sure they are registered to vote in time for the August 29, 2017 primary election, declaring that “Radical times call for radical change. This community will win. I will win. I will be your next District 6 City Councilwoman. Thank you.”