All Articles Tagged "st. louis"
“They Are Kept In The Same Clothes For Weeks”: 15 Citizens File A Lawsuit Against Ferguson And Its Jail Conditions
This Sunday, a federal class-action lawsuit was filed against the cities of Jennings and Ferguson for allegedly jailing those who have petty debt. The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court in St. Louis on behalf of 15 plaintiffs. These plaintiffs have been labeled as “impoverished people,” who could not afford to pay their traffic violations and other minor offenses. One of the complaints of the suit shared with The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
“They were threatened, abused and left to languish in confinement at the mercy of local officials until their frightened family members could produce enough cash to buy their freedom or until city jail officials decided, days or weeks later, to let them out for free.”
Lawyer Thomas Harvey who serves as the executive director for ArchCity Defenders says of the arrests, “We are seeking an injunction against the Jennings and Ferguson courts in order to stop them from consistently violating peoples’ rights and locking them in jail as a result of their inability to pay.”
Harvey said the lawsuits against the cities of Ferguson and Jennings have been in the work for three months. For years he, along with other Arch City Defenders, have condemned the St. Louis municipalities (especially in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting). Harvey reveals both the cities of Jennings and Ferguson has been targeted not only jailing citizens for minor offenses but for its prison conditions. According to their lawsuit, citizens are kept, “in overcrowded cells; they are denied toothbrushes, toothpaste, and soap; they are subjected to the stench of excrement and refuse in their congested cells; they are surrounded by walls smeared with mucus, blood and feces; they are kept in the same clothes for days and weeks without access to laundry or clean undergarments.”
The Post-Dispatch uses this unsettling example of the deplorable conditions at the Jennings jail: when inmates come into court, courtroom staff must spray the hallways with Febreeze to overcome the smell of inmates’ body odor.
Some of the plaintiffs who are in jail are considered homeless or live below the poverty line. One Jennings man, Edward Brown, 62, accumulated numerous tickets and fines over the years that he could not pay off. Therefore, he has been jailed repeatedly. On one occasion, the judge allowed Brown to be set free, but he was sent to another city, Pine Lawn, in the St. Louis municipality because he owed fines there.
Another plaintiff Keilee Fant is 37-year-old single mother who works as a certified nurse assistant. She has been jailed over a dozen times because of failing to pay her traffic tickets. Based on her income, Fant cannot afford to pay off her tickets, still feed her family and pay off living expenses. Harvey says of Fant and Brown that the two represent the other plaintiffs who live check-to-check and being in jail displaces them from being with their families or living a normal life.
Harvey proclaims: “These are systems that are immoral, unethical and clearly illegal, as well.”
A Black Mecca is a city where a good amount of African Americans live and thrive in the community on a daily basis. When you hear of a black mecca you always think of places such as Atlanta and DC but in this new two-part series two MadameNoire editors went to St. Louis to see what they had to offer. We are encouraging locals to support and celebrate small town businesses in the area during black history month!
Click here to see Goapele give us a tour of Oakland.
For more information on the places that were featured in the segment see below:
3701 Grandel Square
St. Louis, MO 63108
1110 Tower Grove Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63110
4270 Manchester Ave.
St. Louis, MO 63110
1911 Locus St.
St. Louis, MO 63101
St. Louis residents are outraged after an off-duty cop fired 17 rounds at 18-year-old Vonderrit Myers Jr. last night, STL Today reports.
Accounts of what led to the deadly shooting seem to dramatically conflict. According to Police Chief Sam Dotson, the teen opened fire on the off-duty officer, who was in uniform, but working a secondary job for a private security company. However, according to the teen’s cousin, Teyonna Meyers, 23, Vonderrit was unarmed.
“He was unarmed,” Teyonna said. “He had a sandwich in his hand, and they thought it was a gun. It’s like Michael Brown all over again.”
Chief Dotson says that it was approximately 7:30 p.m. when the officer, who was in a car, spotted three males. One of the males started to run away, but stopped. When the officer made a U-turn, all three of the men ran. He pursued them in his vehicle before getting out of his car to chase them on foot.
Assistant Police Chief Alfred Adkins claims that Vonderrit jumped from the bushes and tussled with the officer. Adkins went on to say that the scuffle resulted in Vonderrit running away and then turning back to open fire on the officer at least three times. The officer fired back at him 17 times, fatally wounding the teen. It’s currently unclear how many times Vonderrit was struck.
Word of the deadly shooting spread quickly, which resulted in protesters swarming the streets and demanding answers.
“My nephew was coming out of a store from purchasing a sandwich,” said Vonderrit’s uncle, Jackie Williams, 47, who said he spoke with several people who witnessed the shooting. “Security was supposedly searching for someone else. They tased him. I don’t know how this happened but they went off and shot him 16 times. That’s outright murder.”
According to CNN, officers say that they recovered a 9mm Ruger from the scene. A police spokesperson, however, is denying that the officer carried a Taser.
“This is not normal,” said resident Dorenda Townsend. “I’ve lived here over 20 years.”
We will continue to keep you posted as this story develops.
Like many people, I’ve found myself extremely disturbed by the tragedies that have taken place over the past week with the deaths of Mike Brown and Robin Williams. Social media has elicited some strong opinions and I’ve engaged in debates over both Twitter and Facebook with people whose logic and point of views I’ve failed to understand.
But what bothered me the most is the meme posted above. It reads:
“Innocent black boys are being murdered by police on the regular and yet Obama feels addressing Robin Williams suicide is more important. When people show you their true colors…believe them.”
Before Obama publicly addressed the events of Ferguson, he expressed his condolences over the death of comedian and actor Robin Williams. Immediately, people took the action personally and Instagram bred a great deal of social media activists whose actions were limited to posting memes instead of protesting and tweeting rage instead of tolerance. But it makes a depressing statement on our self-expression as a society when we can confidently make statements like, “Robin Williams chose to kill himself. Mike Brown didn’t.”
Ok, so we should mourn Williams a little less because he suffered from depression and committed suicide? It’s easier to blame him than focus on who we really need to confront and come up with a long-term rational plan so that more lives aren’t lost to violence. What bothers me most about the black race at times is the absence of accountability and our failure to admit how we may contribute to the problem. We blame slavery, the government, President Obama, but not once do we take a moment to reassess our contributions. We continuously appear dependent on our historical roles as victims.
I’m not saying that something shouldn’t be said/done about the tragedy in #Ferguson, but what the hell does Robin Williams have to do with it? He didn’t shoot Mike Brown so why are people personally offended at the attention his death is receiving from the media? Both are equally horrific situations, but it seems as if overnight, people became perpetrating social media activists with irrational opinions based on zero logic. People got so caught up in their anger and rage, which is understandable, but at the end of the day no one is actively solving the problem by comparing the two situations.
Families lost loved ones. Can we take five minutes to allow them to grieve without making the death of two men some kind of competition for media coverage? Are you all that fixated on what the media deems important? That’s the problem. It’s all good when VH1 was peddling Mimi bouncing on shower poles or when we were making catchy tunes featuring Sweet Brown and Antoine Dodson, but now it’s a problem when the media only wants to show us rioting and throwing Molotov cocktails. Wake up, folks. The media has been spreading negative images of us for years now, but no one had a problem with it when it was us that were entertained by it.
And let’s be real: Black people kill and rape each other in cold blood every day and you know what we do? We make memes for Instagram. We get shirts made that say “#Free Big T”. We don’t riot. We don’t protest. But somehow we expect other races to value our lives more than we do. Rapper David Banner recently tweeted:
“Our situation is more psychological than people will admit. Black kids kill black kids for the same reason cops do. They see no value.”
“We must start respecting and protecting our own.”
It’s true, America has some deep seeded issues that keep resulting in assault on our black men, but over time, so have we. And NOW we’re offended because Obama didn’t immediately speak on it and it’s the government that’s taking lives. Now you’re defending the fact that you didn’t rock the vote because he chose to make a statement about Patch Adams? I’m all for the protests, the peace marches, and the genuine desire to spread awareness and fight for change. My point is there are plenty of ways to support the arguments being made besides comparing the two lives.
I think what bothers me most are the countless people I am encountering on-line who have failed to mention anything they know about Mike Brown’s life or who he was as a person. It’s as if he’s merely a symbol for their pent up rage and frustration. But Mike Brown was someone’s son, someone’s best friend, someone’s crush even and more than a point to prove for people’s political agendas. And it’s not just the media who didn’t give him a chance to be more than that. Everyone who thinks that a hashtag and meme proves their solidarity is to blame as well. It would be just like me talking about “RIP Robin Williams” and having no idea who Mrs. Doubtfire even was. Can people fall back for two seconds and let families grieve in peace without using peoples’ deaths to push their own political agendas? In the past few days people have lost a father, a husband, a son and a friend. I’m pretty sure they’re not checking for your American History lesson right now. Have some respect.
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.
I learned about the murder of 18-year-old, unarmed and college-bound Michael Brown a bit late. After an event filled weekend, on Sunday I was scrolling through my Instagram timeline. I’m not from St. Louis but I went to school in Missouri so a lot of people I know from college are from, and many, still live in the city. The first inclination that anything had happened came from one such person who wrote “Last day in #StLouis. I love you but you made me feel sad…” I thought that’s a weird caption but I kept scrolling. Then I started seeing pictures of riots, a busted window at a Quick Trip, buildings consumed by fire, a line of police officers standing with guns and shields. By this time I learned this was all in reaction to the unjust killing of Mike Brown. It looked like a war zone. In many ways, it is a war zone.
Then I saw another person one of my Instagram followers posted a tweet from David Banner.
Basically, I wanted to ask David Banner what the hell does one thing have to do with the other? Are we somehow saying that the devaluing of Black life is a new phenomena? That before Black on Black crime, as the media has so cleverly labeled it, White people or law enforcement gave a damn about Black life? They didn’t. The fact that many politicians and law enforcement officials were members of the Klan themselves is a very well-documented fact. In fact, the Klan was so powerful and so prevalent, in 1870 and 1871, Congress had to pass The Enforcement Acts just to make sure that states were enforcing the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments, (the ones that gave full citizenship to anyone born in the US, including freed slaves and the one that offered suffrage rights to any American citizen, regardless of race.) That was over a 100 years ago, and we know, even today politicians are still introducing stipulations that disenfranchise Black voters.
And I know for a fact that the voting laws are not the only ways in which racist, Klan founded and fueled practices still dominate our law enforcement and justice system. Mistrust and demonization of Black people, men and women, is far from new and has nothing to do with Black people perpetuating violent crimes against each other. It’s an American tradition to kill Black people for no reason. And what we think of ourselves has little bearing on that undeniable fact.
To me, David Banner’s tweet sounds an awful lot like Don Lemon’s list. Pull your pants up and then they’ll respect you. Stop littering and then maybe they won’t throw you in jail at a rate far higher than any other racial/ethic group in the country. Stop using the N-word and they won’t shoot to kill. Banner’s tweet seems to suggest that he’s dealing with some of his own psychological baggage, where no matter what, Black people are always somehow deserving of unethical, inhumane and downright evil treatment. I know I love and value myself and all people. I’ve never committed a crime against a Black person; but I also know that if I do something to somehow displease a White person in power, it could cost me life or limb and that White person could very easily walk away from the ordeal scott-free.
Last night, all I knew is that an unarmed boy was shot and killed by a police officer. This morning I got the full story. First reports claimed that he ran from an officer. But according to the New York Times, officials are now claiming Brown didn’t just attempt to run from the officer, he tussled with him, trying to get his gun. According to officials, a patrol car stopped Brown and another man around noon on Saturday. As the officer was about to exit the vehicle, one of the men pushed him back into the car and physically assaulted him. The claim has been met with outrage from the largely Black community of Ferguson, Missouri (a suburb of St. Louis), resulting in everything from peaceful protests to rioting.
Brown’s stepfather, Louis Head, on the day his son was executed, held a cardboard sign that read “Ferguson police just executed my unarmed son.” But the St. Louis county police chief, Jon Belmar, seems to be spinning a different story. He said “The genesis of this was a physical confrontation.”
Family members of Brown say he was walking to his grandmother’s house when the shooting occurred. Desiree Harris, Brown’s grandmother told KMOV she saw him running in her neighborhood when she passed him in her car. Then minutes later, after she’d gotten home, she heard a commotion and then saw his body lying in the street just two blocks away. His body would remain in the street for some time, guarded by officers while neighbors gathered, many taking pictures. Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden told reporters her son had just graduated from high school and was planning to attend Vatterott College.
Does that not show that he valued himself? But the officer didn’t see that. And sadly, that is the narrative when it comes to Black youth in this country. They’re trouble makers not young people with potential, a life ahead of them. Oftentimes the media is not any better in their opinions of Black youth. We all remember how Trayvon was basically tried for his own murder, being portrayed as a weed smoking, gang affiliated, hoodie wearing thug. It was with this history in mind that several Black people on Twitter and Instagram started the hashtag and account #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, where they posted pictures of themselves and how the media would most likely choose to run the stories of their hypothetical and unjust murders with questionable photos rather than ones that show them succeeding, giving back or being loved, treasured and valued by someone.
Sadly, we’ll never know what Brown’s college graduation picture looked like. And I couldn’t state that any more clearly than the way Brown’s mother did in her interview with KMOV.
“You took my son away from me. Do you know how hard it was for me to get him to stay in school and graduate? You know how many Black men graduate? Not many. Because you bring them down to this type of level, where they feel like they don’t got nothing to live for anyway. ‘They’re going to try to take me out anyway.’
There is a tragic story out of St. Louis, Missouri, that was thought to be a story of abandonment, but was really a homicide.
Ebony-Jackson Shelton, 30, was found stuffed in the trunk of her own car. The last anyone heard from her, she was headed to her cousin’s home, but she never made it, according to St. Louis’ Fox 2 News.
The report includes a Facebook posting of a video of her newborn baby on his grandfather’s lap, spending quality time and her speaking to her new baby off camera telling him to talk to grandpa.
Read more Eurthisnthat.com.
There are so many things wrong with the picture I’m about to paint for you. One, a mother thought it was cute to have little girls under the age of 2 fight for entertainment. Two, she recorded it with a cell phone so she could relive the moment I assume; and three, she posted it on Facebook presumably so others could enjoy the show as well. That’s the story that’s being reported from Fox News in St. Louis after an acquaintance of the mother alerted them to the video clip.
Thankfully, Missouri’s Department of Social Services may now be investigating this situation after viewers came across the clip of two toddlers fighting barely clothed to the taunts of the mother telling them, “Y’all better ball up some fists!” and exclaiming “We got some action” when the babies followed her orders.
The associate who reported the video told Fox:
“It’s just sickening and I feel like there should be some kind of criminal action taken. I couldn’t even watch the whole video. I had to stop it and look again. It was sad.”
Speaking on the encouragement to ball up their fists, she added:
“It’s like she’s training her before she starts school or something. It’s sad because today’s society in the black community its really sickening that these kids are learning how to fight, get guns and stuff, and it shouldn’t be going on.”
Fox isn’t naming names since the mother in question hasn’t been charged with anything, but they have asked social services to look into the situation. St. Louis child psychologist Russell Hyken agrees that someone other than curious YouTubers should watch the footage.
“That’s pretty overwhelming. Those are small children that really don’t even understand what is going on. I mean one child is screaming and the other child continues to go after her. I mean what is going on here?
“I think it is something that they at least need to be looking at. I don’ t know the law in that area, but as a therapist, and a family therapist at that, I’m pretty concerned the parents are encouraging violence and putting their kids in a physically abusive situation.”
Hopefully Social Services will feel the same. Take a look at the clip here. What do you think?
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Eboni Boykin spent most of her childhood in and out of homeless shelters but now the St. Louis teen has found a home on the campus of Columbia University as she’ll be attending the Ivy League school on a full four-year scholarship this fall.
Bouncing from home to home and shelter to shelter, Eboni has attended more schools than she can recall, most of them in urban areas with not much focus on academics or helping kids get to college, much less an Ivy League school. But Eboni has been self-motivated since the age of 13 to make it where she’s going after watching Rory on “Gilmore Girls” attend Yale. Her surroundings were also a heavy influence toward reaching her goal.
“Seeing the absolute worst of life is the ultimate motivation,” she told STL Today.
As a student at Normandy High school, the 17-year-old is one of about 25 honor students in the entire school which has a dropout rate in the double digits. Last year, 74 percent of students there failed the state’s English 2 exam, and 83 percent failed the math exam. Though Eboni’s mother is supportive of her dreams, as a high school dropout she hasn’t always been able to relate to her daughter’s goals. Eboni first attended Normandy as an eighth-grader but felt the school held her back. She then moved to Mississippi to live with her grandparents and attend a better school but after one year she missed her mother so she decided to return to Normandy her sophomore year. Though the high school is struggling to keep is accreditation, Eboni met her own goals. She scored a 27 on her ACT, when the average composite score at Normandy High last year was a 16. According to the school district, no one has ever scored higher than a 27 at the high school.
After attending a journalism program at Princeton University last summer, Ebony decided on a major and a college—Columbia to pursue a journalism degree. Eboni applied and waited, then on Dec. 8, she logged on to the university’s website to view its acceptance and rejection letters for early admissions. She pulled up the letter addressed to her and it began with “Congratulations!” then she found another notice saying all expenses were paid.
Although Eboni’s ACT score was high for her high school, it’s on the lower end of Columbia’s incoming class. The teen said now that she knows where she’s going she’s trying to prepare for challenging academics, though she figures it can’t be harder than what she’s already overcome.
“I expect to be around really, really smart people. People with a strong presence about them. When you think about the people who went to Columbia — like Madeleine Albright, Barack Obama, Ben Jealous — you think of real pioneers,” she said. “I expect to be around that. I’m excited.”
Eboni’s definitely already a pioneer for her hometown and especially her school.
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Twitter and Facebook are going to be the death of black people—in some instances it already has been. And while I know we are hardly the only ones using the social networking sites we are the biggest users and unfortunately too many of us are using it for violent foolishness.
Today there’s a story that’s been picked up about a 30-person brawl of all women in St. Louis that surprisingly only left two people with major injuries after they were hit with bats and required a trip to the hospital for stitches. “Police say one of the women in the group broke a glass candleholder from a nearby memorial and used it as a weapon before heading into the convenience store.” And you know what this was all over? Facebook. And though you might expect witnesses to say something along the lines of, “this is ridiculous,” “I don’t understand what this is about,” or something similar, CBS local news quoted a woman as saying, “People shouldn’t be posting their business on Facebook.” Well, that’s part of it. The other part is people shouldn’t be fighting over Facebook period.
It’s interesting that I came across this story because just yesterday one of my friends asked me if I’d seen the drama that had erupted on his Twitter timeline. I had not and so he filled me in on how he had apparently been talking about some personal experiences from his college years that involved cheating, unplanned pregnancies, and miscarriages (I don’t know if he called himself doing a Twitter testimonial or what) and although he’d left any identifying personal details, somehow someone he knew picked up on the story and twitter hell broke loose. By the end of the day he had gotten a few nasty calls from the friend who’d seen the tweets, the girl he had written about, and Facebook threats from the girl’s current boyfriend. I joked with him that he was a World Star Hip Hop video waiting to happen but the reality is he truly was.
In a lot of ways there’s a need for accountability on both sides of the coin. The “Internet balls” phenomenon is alive and well and many social media users trick themselves into thinking they can say whatever they please online when it comes to real-life circumstances simply because they’re behind the safety of a computer screen (for the moment) and that’s certainly not OK. But it’s also not acceptable to migrate an Internet beef into a brawl in the streets over comments that 1. May or may not be directed at you, 2. No one else probably knows are directed at you, 3. Are just not that serious. Just last week we saw the violent viral video of the teen dragging another girl out of the house and beating and stomping her all the way into the front yard over Twitter. At some point we have to realize what’s more important—our future as a free law-abiding citizen or checking someone over something 25 people probably noticed on the Twitterverse.
Although I’m sure there have been instances of white folks coming to blows over Internet beef we seem to be the main perpetrators of this trend and ironically I think it has to do with some black people’s need to protect their image. It’s interesting because we talk about the negative images we’re tired of seeing on this site all day, but some people are so concerned with defending their reputation and the image people have of them that when it’s disrespected or challenged online it becomes as real as if someone were saying it directly to their face. I think this phenomenon also speaks to the inherent anger people are harboring inside or they’re simply looking for a reason to get into it. If by the time you get through reading someone’s timeline or trying to find their latest posts on Facebook and when you get in your car and over to wherever the other person is, you still feel like beating the brakes off of them over a few words, you may need to sign up for the Tami Roman school of anger management. It’s just not worth it boo boo.
I’m certainly not about Internet thugging but the violent manner in which these situations are being handled—and increasingly by women—just isn’t worth it. Internet beef needs to be kept and squashed online so you can go about your real life sensibly.
Why do you think so many people are quick to fight in real life over things said over the Internet?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Guitarist and “activist” Ted Nugent is another popular figure in hot water for his comments about the Obama administration during an NRA convention in St.Louis. According to the Associated Press, during the convention last week, Nugent toted the Obama administration as the “evil, America-hating administration.” While that’s not the worst insult I’m sure you’ve heard about, the rocker took things up a notch by comparing the administration to coyotes who needed to be shot, and urged NRA members to “to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November.” And the icing on the cake was when he told the crowd what he would do if the president was re-elected: “If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year.” Word Ted? WORD?
I’m guessing the secret service wasn’t feeling this, because Ted is slated to meet with them on Thursday to explain his comments. He told his buddy Glenn Beck (your other favorite person) that after he talks with the secret service, it will be pretty clear that he wasn’t threatening the president whatsoever. But despite what he says, a lot of people are still calling the comments threatening, and for those who have guns but don’t have sense, it might be the words they need to hear to act a fool this fall. And yes, Nugent is endorsing Mitt Romney with all his might.
It’s funny how just last week people were getting in Hilary Rosen’s behind because she made comments about Mitt Romney’s wife being a stay-at-home mother who really hadn’t worked a day in her life after Romney said he looked to her as a guide to women’s economic struggles. Yet this fool gets in front of the gun-toting NRA, talking about the President and his administration and calling them evil, comparing the November elections to a battlefield, even saying he’ll be dead or in jail if President Obama is re-elected, and folks are on the hush this time around.
Writer Leslie Marshall at US News World & Report said that despite people’s views on the President’s record or positions, folks still need to have and show a lot more respect to him. Why? Because he’s the damn president! Hello!!!!
“Although I’m not that old a broad yet, I am seeing a growing number of Americans disrespect not only the man in the Oval Office, but the office of the president. It seems the older I get, the less respect Americans have for our commander in chief.
Some will say this is just Nugent being a loudmouth, he isn’t really threatening the president. Perhaps that is true, but what about the idiot who will follow Nugent’s words and make a true threat or attempt to carry out such violent rhetoric? Have we learned nothing from the shooting of Rep. Gabby Giffords?! When will the use of such language stop?! And the disrespect!”
AMEN! People throw the worst forms of shade and disrespect at our president as though everything he’s dealing with and trying to work on during his presidency is something he created alone. From immature governor’s pointing their fingers in his face, to folks calling him boy, sending rude emails about his wife, and now this big dummy (*in Fred Sanford voice*) encouraging trigger happy individuals to take matters in their own hands when it comes to dealing with the president and his administration in the fall, this stuff has to stop. He might not really be telling people to hurt the president, but as Marshall said, after the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, he should have known better. Sure, President Bush had a few shoes thrown at him during trips to Iraq, but the disrespect President Obama gets from his own people here at home, GROWN PEOPLE who should know better, is despicable. If President Obama were a Republican, trust, the outcry would be immense (with Bill O’Reilly at the helm). Just as Rosen was held fully accountable for her words, so should this man. I’m telling you, if incidents like this don’t make you want to swarm the voting booths in November, I really don’t know what will…
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