Extremists plotting protests at Democratic Convention include Missouri man charged with


Extremists plotting to wreak havoc at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) include a Missouri man charged with spying for Russia, sparking fears the Kremlin could seek to unleash chaos at the conference.

Police are already braced for massive protests at the August convention, with agitators threatening a throwback to 1968 when the event turned into a bloodbath.

In recent weeks, clashes at university campuses over the Israel-Hamas conflict have raised concerns that the far left is ramping up plans for a major show of force.

But DailyMail.com can now reveal that those plotting to bring chaos to the streets of Chicago include an agitator who has been linked to a Kremlin plot to ‘sow discord’ across America.

Jesse Nevel, 34, from St. Louis, Missouri, was charged in a federal probe last year over allegations he conspired with an FSB agent to spread Russian propaganda and influence US elections.

Jesse Nevel was charged in a federal probe last year over allegations he conspired with an FSB agent to spread pro-Kremlin propaganda. He is now plotting to disrupt the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Chicago this summer

Jesse Nevel was charged in a federal probe last year over allegations he conspired with an FSB agent to spread pro-Kremlin propaganda. He is now plotting to disrupt the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Chicago this summer

FSB agent Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov offered to fund Nevel's run for mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2017, according to an indictment filed in the state in April last year

FSB agent Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov offered to fund Nevel’s run for mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2017, according to an indictment filed in the state in April last year

Activists plotting mass protests at the DNC in Chicago have already promised a return to 1968, when the event turned the windy city into a bloodbath

Activists plotting mass protests at the DNC in Chicago have already promised a return to 1968, when the event turned the windy city into a bloodbath

But with the charges still looming, the former mayoral candidate for St Petersburg, Florida, reportedly attended a ‘March on DNC’ conference in the windy city last month.

The revelations have sparked fears that the Kremlin could target the event as a means of destabilizing the Democratic party and ultimately sway the outcome of the 2024 presidential election.

Max Bergmann, of think tank the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), told DailyMail.com that the DNC was a ‘clear target for Russian interference efforts’.

‘There’s a long history of the Russians using groups on the left, who are “useful idiots”, to amplify their own messages and divide America,’ he added.

Those involved in the ‘March on the DNC 2024’ movement include many of the usual suspects, including far-left factions and pro-Palestine activists whose homes have been raided by the FBI as part of a probe into support for terrorist groups.

Yet Nevel’s presence, first revealed by The Free Press, within the coalition of chaos may be of added interest to authorities.

He is a prominent activist in the Uhuru Solidarity Movement – a group of white campaigners who support the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP).

But for a party whose primary goal is the liberation of African people across the globe, some of its recent causes have taken a surprising turn.

In 2016, it issued a statement in support of the Russian Olympic team after it was banned from the Rio Games for doping.

And following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, party chairman Omali Yeshitela called for ‘unity with Russia in its defensive war…against the world colonial powers’.

It blamed the conflict on the US, EU and ‘pro-Western neo-fascists in Ukraine’. 

What these proclamations have to do with black liberation is unclear. But those behind them have little to do with that cause, either, according to an indictment filed in Tampa, Florida, in April last year.

For they are in fact the work of an FSB agent named Aleksandr Viktorovich Ionov, who allegedly recruited prominent members of the APSP, including Hevel, to spread pro-Kremlin propaganda in exchange for donations to the party.

In fact, Ionov had been working with the APSP as far back as 2014 in order to ‘divide Americans and interfere in elections in the United States’, according to Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen.

The Russian even offered to provide ‘campaign finance’ for Nevel’s unsuccessful tilt for mayor of St. Petersburg, Florida, in 2017, the charges state.

Nevel is also alleged to have conspired to recruit other US citizens to work as Russian agents. The 34-year-old has strongly denied the allegations

Nevel is also alleged to have conspired to recruit other US citizens to work as Russian agents. The 34-year-old has strongly denied the allegations

Ionov offered to provide 'campaign finance' to Nevel's failed run for mayor of St Petersburg, Florida, in 2017, according to the federal indictment

Ionov offered to provide ‘campaign finance’ to Nevel’s failed run for mayor of St Petersburg, Florida, in 2017, according to the federal indictment

Nevel is a member of the African People's Socialist Party. Its chairman, Omali Yeshitela (above), is also charged as part of the federal probe. He has denied working for Russia

Nevel is a member of the African People’s Socialist Party. Its chairman, Omali Yeshitela (above), is also charged as part of the federal probe. He has denied working for Russia

Authorities are braced for huge protests at this summer's DNC amid growing civil unrest over the Israel-Hamas war, which has already led to violent clashes

Authorities are braced for huge protests at this summer’s DNC amid growing civil unrest over the Israel-Hamas war, which has already led to violent clashes

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations on college campuses have raised the specter of a replay of 1968's Democratic convention. Pictured: Police reroute demonstrators as they try to clear Grant Park during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on Aug. 28 of that year.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrations on college campuses have raised the specter of a replay of 1968’s Democratic convention. Pictured: Police reroute demonstrators as they try to clear Grant Park during the Democratic National Convention in Chicago on Aug. 28 of that year.

Nevel, for his part, was fully aware Ionov was ‘an instrument of Russian government’, US authorities claim.

After Yeshitela returned from a separatist conference hosted by Ionov in Moscow in the summer of 2015, Nevel allegedly sent an email to party members relaying the chairman’s view that their host’s ties to the Kremlin ‘did not disturb us’.

The indictment suggests Nevel was primarily a lackey, relaying messages and chasing Ionov’s assistant for donations in return for drafting anti-America petitions at the Russian’s behest.

But his campaign for office in Florida was allegedly used as a training run for the Kremlin’s aim of influencing elections on a national scale.

Shortly after the 2020 presidential election, Ionov funded a protest in Washington D.C..

In reporting back to his handlers in Moscow, he explained that mayoral bids he had previously supported in Florida would make it possible ‘to carry out more effective campaigns during municipal elections’ and ‘lay the groundwork for a new electoral base’, the charges state.

Ionov, Yeshitela and Nevel are all charged with conspiring to recruit US citizens as Russian spies, which could land them with five years behind bars if convicted.

Yeshitela and Nevel are also charged with acting as agents of Russia within the US without prior notification to the Attorney General, a crime that carries a maximum sentence of ten years in prison.

The pair have both strongly denied the charges.

Yeshitela has said Ionov had no role in APSP political campaigns, adding: ‘I ain’t ever worked for a Russian.’  

In an article for the party’s newspaper, The Burning Spear, in June last year, Nevel said it was ‘absurd’ that he and Yeshitela were accused of spying for Russia.

He described the charges as ‘false to an idiotic and laughable extreme’ and claimed that the US government was attempting to imprison Yeshitela because he was ‘a freedom fighter’ in the same vein as Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, both of whom were hounded by the intelligence services.

In February, a judge denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss the indictment. 

Nevel did not respond to a list of questions sent to him by DailyMail.com. 

Security experts say Russia could seek to target the DNC as a means of undermining Joe Biden, who has been repeatedly pushed sending US aid and arms to Ukraine

Security experts say Russia could seek to target the DNC as a means of undermining Joe Biden, who has been repeatedly pushed sending US aid and arms to Ukraine

Police advance on demonstrators on the UCLA campus May 2, 2024, in Los Angeles, following violent clashes between pro-Palestine and pro-Israel groups

Police advance on demonstrators on the UCLA campus May 2, 2024, in Los Angeles, following violent clashes between pro-Palestine and pro-Israel groups

Vladimir Putin has a clear incentive to derail Biden's re-election campaign. The US President is a bigger backer of Ukraine than his rival Donald Trump

Vladimir Putin has a clear incentive to derail Biden’s re-election campaign. The US President is a bigger backer of Ukraine than his rival Donald Trump

There is no evidence that the Kremlin is behind Nevel’s appearance at the March on DNC conference in Chicago last month. 

But Bergmann, director of the CSIS Europe, Russia, and Eurasia Program, said it would be ‘shocking’ if Russia wasn’t already plotting to disrupt the event.

He pointed out that Russian agents stole 20,000 documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee, which were released by WikiLeaks just days before the party’s convention in 2016.  

US officials have already warned that Russia is spreading disinformation ahead of the 2024 election, using fake online accounts to damage President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats.

Experts say it is part of a continuing effort by Moscow to undercut American military aid to Ukraine and US support for NATO.

But less attention has been paid to what is described in the Florida filings as ‘agitprop’ – agitation and propaganda – through Russian sympathizers on the ground.

Bergmann said there are real concerns that Russian intelligence will ‘find ways to be part of the [DNC] protests…turning them from peaceful to violent through agitators in the crowd’.

‘We saw the Russians trying to do this in 2016, trying to facilitate violent protests by activating far right and far left groups to face off with each other.

‘There is real concern about how Russia will use will exploit these divisions, to distract from the convention and undermine Biden, but also to depict Americans as at war with themselves.’

The ‘March on the DNC 2024’ conference last month featured 75 organizations, with speakers instructing activists how to say ‘Death to America’ in Farsi, The Free Press reported.  

Mick Kelly, (left), of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Hatem Abudayyeh, (right) chairman of the US Palestinian Community Network

Mick Kelly, (left), of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and Hatem Abudayyeh, (right) chairman of the US Palestinian Community Network, also attended the March on the DNC conference in April. They have  both caught the eye of the FBI in the past, but without charge

Other prominent figures in attendance included Mick Kelly, a member of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and Hatem Abudayyeh, chairman of the US Palestinian Community Network, whose homes were raided by the FBI in 2010 in a probe over possible links to ‘designated foreign terrorist organizations’, including the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and Hezbollah.

Neither were charged. 

Democrats fear unrest over Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war will lead to ugly scenes at this year’s convention and derail the President’s re-election campaign.

Activists have sued in federal court, alleging First Amendment violations because the city has only offered permits for demonstrations miles from the United Center, where Biden is scheduled to accept the Democratic presidential nomination. 

Protesters preparing for the convention have vowed to march on it anyway, raising the specter of clashes with police that could undercut Biden and further divide the Democratic base. They think the campus demonstrations — and broad Democratic disapproval of the war — will fuel their efforts. 

March on the DNC organizers did not respond to a request for comment from DailyMail.com regarding Nevel’s presence at their April conference. 



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