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Housing, racism and unrest

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Posted St. Louis American: Thursday, May 19, 2016 7:45 am

 

In my book “Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion,” I talk about the racist policies, laws and practices that concentrate poverty in the region. Where citizens are steered to live and work is a critical component of this reality.

One of the most powerful photos I’ve come across since writing the book is contained in the report by Richard Rothstein. It’s a 1916 propaganda piece with a photo of the 4300 block of West Bell Place which was part of a ballot initiative to preserve white neighborhoods. It was sponsored in part by the city’s real estate association. The campaign literature came with an ominous warning:

“LOOK at these homes NOW! An entire blocked ruined by negro invasion. Every house marked ‘X’ now occupied by negroes. SAVE YOUR HOME! VOTE FOR SEGREGATION!”

The ballot initiative passed. Read more

Google Celebrates Yuri

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I was surprised to see that Google’s Doodle today featured Yuri Kochiyama. Today would’ve been her 95th birthday. Today would’ve also been Malcolm X’s 91st birthday. In the 1960’s the two of them became revolutionary allies in the struggle for the liberation of oppressed peoples.

Yuri was a phenomenal freedom fighter with fierce, unbreakable ties to the U.S. Black Liberation Struggle. One of the most vivid insights I found in her book was when Japanese Americans were uprooted from their communities and forced into concentration camps during World War II.  Her young, white friends and the family’s neighbors quickly severed ties and saw them as the enemy. History is full of examples of how easy it is to manipulate the human psyche, especially along ethnic and religious lines.

Yuri Kochiyama, Malcolm X–Presente!

Needed: A new crime-fighting paradigm

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Posted St. Louis American – Thursday, May 5, 2016 8:45 am

As part of its ongoing work around local control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression (CAPCR) has been facilitating community forums to discuss re-thinking public safety. A component of the town hall is a presentation that highlights two remarkable findings.

 

One fact is that St. Louis is spending 56 percent of its general budget on arresting and incarcerating folks. A whopping $277,840,566 is spent on courts, jails and law enforcement departments, i.e. police, sheriff, etc. That’s a lot of dough for a city that consistently holds national titles like “Most Dangerous City” and “Most Violent Crimes” for at least the last decade.

 

In a nation hell-bent on criminalizing its citizens, especially its black and brown ones, the rate of mass incarceration speaks volumes to the fact that the crime strategy used by law enforcement is not working. Over two million citizens are housed in the U.S.  prison system, more than any other civilized country in the world. This is a system that is not only inhumane but economically unsustainable. Yet, there’s no course change by our elected officials.

 

The second striking finding in CAPCR’s research related to the unsuccessful crime strategy is the number of police officers on the St. Louis police force. Read more