The African community of St. Petersburg, Florida, led by the Uhuru Movement, erected a sign, renaming what was previously known as 18th Avenue to TyRon Lewis Avenue in honor of the 20th anniversary of the police murder of 18-year-old TyRon Lewis on October 24, 2016.
It was a sign embraced by the African community; the murder of TyRon Lewis still bearing relevancy. African people erected this sign without the permission from the city, exercising our right to be a self-determined people.
Unfortunately, but not at all by surprise, the city is planning to remove it after a letter sent by the police union has backed them into a corner.
The leader of the Suncoast Police Benevolent Association requested that the city mayor take the sign down because of its “negative symbolic purpose.”
He went on to say that the sign was a slap in the face to all law enforcement, that it upholds a criminal, and it represents thousands of dollars in property damage after the uprisings of the African community in 1996.
It’s repulsing to see the the article covered by white colonial media. Twenty years later it holds onto this narrative of lies, criminalizing TyRon Lewis even still, claiming that the car he was stopped in was stolen (though that was proved false), or that James Knight, the officer that killed TyRon, was thrust upon the hood after TyRon moved the car forward a tad, though no evidence proves this claim.
But that’s the reason they want it to come down. Because it brings the question of Lewis’ death back to the forefront. It exposes the lies of the police. It reminds them every day of the horrible crime they’ve committed.
They expected TyRon to be another piece of dead meat that they could just discard and the African community would remain mute. The erection of this sign is a clear indication that they were sadly mistaken.
They say we didn’t have permission to put this sign up, but we did get permission, from the African community. We made this decision because we understand that only we are going to uphold our martyrs. They say we didn’t get permission that’s why it has to come down, but there has never been an instance where the police have taken the lives of one of our fathers, mothers, children, etc. with our permission!
The city had first tried to sweep the sign under the rug, which the police union has called them out for. They then tried to shift the responsibility of removing the sign to the Department of Transportation, in which the police union also said was unacceptable.
So the city is now moving to remove the sign on Monday November 14th. But we will be conducting our own press conference, organizing the people to defend the sign! Taking down that sign is in direct violation of our right to be a self-governing people. The African community are the only people who get to decide how we memorialize our lost ones, not the state!
If you are local and want to defend the sign, attend our press conference on the corner of 16ht street and TyRon Lewis Avenue, Monday at 10:00am!