A candidate for mayor in St. Petersburg, Fla. erupted at black reparations activists, telling them to “go back to Africa” during a mayoral debate.
A forum about opportunities for youth in St. Petersburg, Fla., turned racial when long-shot mayoral candidate Paul Congemi lashed out at an opponent’s supporters.
Paul Congemi, a white man who is in the mayoral race for St. Petersburg, fired back at his white campaign opponent Jesse Nevel, who centered his campaign on calling for government reparations for African-Americans.
He told the officers responding during an incident at a KFC, “Don’t touch me. I am running for mayor, and once I get elected you will be fired!,” according to a police report.
“Mr. Nevel, you and your people talk about reparations. The reparations that you talk about, Mr. Nevel, your people already got your reparations. Your reparations came in the form of a man named Barack Obama,” Congemi responded, pointing a figure at the audience as he spoke. “My advice to you, if you don’t like it here in America, planes leave every hour from Tampa airport. Go back to Africa. Go back to Africa. Go back!”
Nevel said “I was reluctant to engage this candidate last night and draw even more attention to his disturbing message. I regret not doing so, though. It is simply unacceptable to spew this kind of bigoted rhetoric.” Free speech should not compromise the dignity and respect of any person or community. This candidate spoke hateful words about African Americans and our LGBT community. He has the right to do so, but nothing about what he said is right. His comments just aren’t who we are.
Congemi claimed that his mother had only been without home health care for about a day and a half as he switched providers. Congemi’s mother had serious bed sores all the way down to her tail bone. She was hospitalized and Congemi was arrested. Even in the middle of the fallout, after posting a $10,000 bail, Congemi told reporters that he would keep on with his political aspirations. Those charges were ultimately dropped, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Despite the rumblings over Congemi’s actions and his stances, Congemi insisted he is not going anywhere. And, apparently, we should take his word for it.
His modus operandi will apparently remain the same this time around, despite criticisms and backlash over his comments at the forum. And even if he loses, he says he won’t stop. Nevel’s campaign slogan is “Unity Through Reparations.” He is backed by a group called the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, which pushes for reparations as a way to alleviate racial inequality. The group also calls for solutions to racially charged issues in society, such as gentrification and police brutality.
Congemi told the Post that he believes his rival is “obviously” a “self-hating white man” for his policies, adding that he has “nothing against African-Americans who are doing their best here in America.”Congemi added that he had been a lifelong Democrat until former President Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage, prompting him to switch political parties. He said he is also a supporter of President Trump.
Though he is facing accusations of racism for his comments, Congemi said Wednesday that he will not drop out of the mayoral race. “I’ll run again in 2019 and, God willing, if I’m alive in 2021, I’ll run then too,” he said. “I intend to keep running and running and running.”
His comments were directed at Nevel, who is white. He is the national chair of the Uhuru Solidarity Movement, a group that organizes white support for black-led community social justice. It is an organization that works with the main Uhuru organization, which has many African-American members, including founder and activist Omali Yeshitela.