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MurphTheSurf3 On August - 18 - 2014

Ferguson

Ferguson, Missouri, is a majority-black city governed and policed mostly by whites. The mayor is white. The police chief is white. The police force is 94 percent white. Only one of its six city council members is black. Ferguson, with a 67 percent black population, seem to defy electoral logic

Ferguson was founded in 1855 on 10 acres of land with its train Wabash RR train depot at its center. It became a city in 1894.

The population of Ferguson grew rapidly during the first six decades of the twentieth century, from 1,015 people in 1900 to 22,149 people in 1960, an average growth rate of 5% per year. Since 1960 the population has remained nearly constant but the racial makeup of the city has undergone radical change.

In 1990, residents of Ferguson who were identified in the U.S. Census as White comprised 73.8% of the total, while those identified as Black made up 25.1%.

In the 2000 census, 44.7% were White and 52.4% were African American.

In the 2010 census its population 21,203 was 29.3% White and 67.4% African American. The remaining 3.3% is Hispanic, Asian, Native American and other in that other.

The pattern of re-population in Ferguson is common throughout city of St. Louis’ inner-ring suburbs. In St. Louis deteriorating schools, infrastructure, and services along with rising unemployment pushed African Americans from the neighborhoods in the city that had at one time been warrens for other immigrant groups: Irish, Italians, Poles, Bohemians et. al.

They went where those previous settlers went- to the suburbs- and pushed those groups further out from the city. The white population was nearly halved from 1990 to 2000 and then again from 2000 to 2010.

The whites who remained did so largely because they owned businesses in or near the town or they lacked the resources to make a move. One thing is clear in speak with white residents. They did not intend to give up “their town” without a fight. They organized and they focused on clear goals. One was keeping the town government in the hands of the long time residents.

The issue boils down to who votes. Ferguson’s black community is younger, poorer, more transient, than the white population. All of these factors make black residents less likely to go to the polls, especially in low-turnout municipal elections. And so whites, whose roots are deeper and who are organized to mobilize, dominate politically.

By way of example…..6 of the 7 seat on the city’s school board were held by whites in 2013 with the 7th Hispanic. The board had been in a power struggle with a young superintendent of schools, Art McCoy, and eventually suspended him. There were protests at school board meetings and even some public demonstrations.

In the wake of the controversy, three black candidates chose to run for the school board; despite the anger over McCoy’s ouster, only one managed to win a seat.

The same pattern has prevailed in every election to every office and every board including those that oversee the hiring of public safety officers.

Written by MurphTheSurf3

Proud to be an Independent Progressive. I am a progressive- a one time Eisenhower Republican who is now a Democrat. I live in a very RED STATE and am a community activist with a very BLUE AGENDA. Historian, and "Gentleman Farmer."

61 Responses so far.

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  1. SearingTruth says:

    It’s far simpler than that gentle friend MurphTheSurf3.

    Poor minorities anywhere in America are almost guaranteed to never succeed.

    Because we don’t have equal education. Schools are funded by local taxes, mostly property taxes, so that poor people have to overcome extraordinary obstacles, like getting books and pencils.

    While the rich luxuriate in giant stadiums, and swimming pools.

    If you’re rich, you get the rich mans education. If you’re poor you get to suffer and die.

    Before you even have a chance at a partial education.

    That is the truth of the America we have become.

    Thanks to the elitist and racist Republican Party. And amazingly, the Libertarians would even be worse.
    ST

    “Desperation.

    And desperate crimes.

    Always together.”
    SearingTruth

    A Future of the Brave

  2. MurphTheSurf3 says:

    UPDATE

    The People of Ferguson Have the Power To FIRE the ENTIRE Police Force

    Given the demographics of Ferguson, the people have the power to fire the entire city council, the mayor, the city manager, the chief of police, and to replace them with officers more capable who will fire the entire police force and replace them with individuals interested in serving and protecting the citizenry of Ferguson.

    This process can be accomplished entirely within a period of just over six months.

    BUT….Given the demographics of Ferguson, the people have the power to fire the entire city council, the mayor, the city manager, the chief of police, and to replace them with officers more capable who will fire the entire police force and replace them with individuals interested in serving and protecting the citizenry of Ferguson.

    The citizens have more than enough numbers to make it all happen.

    They just have to organize, register, and sign the petitions for recall.

    The people have all the power in this. They just don’t realize it.

    Yet.

    This process can be accomplished entirely within a period of just over six months.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/19/1323089/-The-People-of-Ferguson-Have-the-Power-To-FIRE-the-Entire-Police-Force

  3. Murph--I don’t think changing the racial balance of elected officials in Ferguson (by itself) will fix the problems that surround the way the city is policed. There have been three questionable NYPD killings of African Americans in NYC in the last 18 months or so (Kimany Gray, Ramarley Graham and Eric Garner), and the first two garnered almost no coverage or attention. This in a city with far better minority representation in politics. I have a bucket full of protest buttons over such killings (dating back to the 1980’s), and nobody seems to be able to break the pattern at the NYPD.

    Ferguson is also troubled by the same problems as Camden or Detroit--high unemployment and deindustrialization. Changing the faces on the city council won’t be enough to reverse corporate trends that are moving decent wage jobs abroad.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      I agree, but the representation issue makes it even more difficult to make change than it would be otherwise. Imagine, a town that is overwhelming black and democrat having a government that is overwhelming white and GOP. Incredible really. Without political leverage any talk about change is just empty jawing.

      In the last off-cycle election the black turnout was 6 percent. Political clout does count and they have none.

      You might want to read my response to pollytics below in regard to my impression of the town. I think it reinforces your point of view. I would be interested in your thoughts.

  4. PollyTics says:

    Murph, I would be very interested in hearing from you on the deeper rift and problems in Ferguson. Rather than just the demographics (which are incredibly important), what about the tenor of those living there. What are they saying; the average moms and dads who go to work every day or are busy looking for that elusive job?

    You were there; what did those you spoke with say about the situation, the policies and the police militarization? How about how it is affecting their everyday life and how they view their future?

    Perhaps you have written an article about it elsewhere, but I couldn’t find it and am ansty in anticipation to hear from the source. Please, what else can you tell us about this situation and how those involved view their very future?

    Personally, I am grateful you went, perhaps it is because I so wanted to be there as well…but nevertheless, it took guts and I just want to say “thanks”.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      I have been to Ferguson three times. The first two times were for meetings re. the Affordable Care Act and the third was last Friday as a result of a call from area activists for a show of support.

      It’s quite a trip from my mall town to Ferguson which is just a few miles from the airport.

      I was part of a meeting at a local church in late morning which focused on techniques for maintaining good order while delivering a message in marches, demonstrations and rallies. There were 50 or so there.

      In the early afternoon we walked around in a group of 20 meeting people on the street. Another meeting in late afternoon looked at community organization. In the early evening we participated in a march which featured chanting and signs. Police presence was strong and assertive but thing were calm while I was there.

      We closed the night at the McDonald’s was so prominent in the first two nights of reporting and then went to a prayer service in an open lot which was quite moving. At the McDonald’s I live blogged with the Planet POV gang on our Vox Populi chat room. I passed messages from the Planeteers to the local folks in the McDonald’s who were impressed that we were discussing them and sending messages of support to them. They in turn sent back their thoughts to us. You can see that dialogue on the Vox Populi 8/15 in the Live Events Archive.

      Sadly, on the way back home (a two hour plus trip) we heard the news about the clashes with police, the tear gas, the arrests. It was a distressing end to what had been a good day.

      Beyond that I can add very little. What I saw in my visits there was a town that is largely lower middle class with significant pockets of poverty. Unemployment is high which is evidenced by how many young people seem to be spending so much of their lives on the streets hanging around. One gets the sense that there is no effective conduit for change. Good Lord, the town is overwhelming black and democrat and their government is overwhelming white and GOP. In the last election African American turnout was 6 percent.

      One also gets the sense that it is middle-aged and older women and church pastors who do the leading that gets done. Everyone is distressed about the overwhelming and heavily armed police presence BUT they are also afraid of what they call the “militants”- angry young men from the town who are trouble makers and have connections to gangs. The shooting AND the looting are two sides of the coin for them.

      Lastly, I did not get the sense that they expected there would be justice in this matter. They expect that the officer will get away with what they see as a murder in the name of law and order.

  5. kesmarn says:

    There might also be a short and not-so-sweet answer to this question in this article on the seamy underbelly of Ferguson. Which appears to be a town that supports itself — to the tune of over $2 million — on trumped up charges, phony traffic stops and fines.

    They seem to escalate changes on minority people to the point at which they’re ending up as “felons” — which naturally would make voting and running for office very difficult.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/18/1322691/-The-Seamy-Underbelly-Of-Ferguson-Starts-To-Appear?detail=facebook

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      Yes, I saw the Daily Kos story. I have some questions about how widespread the patterns described are. For one thing most small towns in this area make most of their money off of traffic stops. I live in an area where the speed traps are set up near bars because that is fertile ground for speeder and our population is overwhelmingly white. We have local police forces that spend most of their time raising money for the town.

      As to the practice of locking doors and starting early….that has been challenged by the court itself and by both prosecuting and defending attorneys as an exaggeration of a rare event.

      As to escalating charges…that one is more difficult to nail down. I am looking into that one as I think it could be significant.

      Finally, the Daily Kos article writer seems unaware of the narrative that I report here- African American political organization and moxy in Ferguson has not taken advantage of its population dominance. BTW, this pattern is common throughout the entire region AND a big problem.

      • kesmarn says:

        When the police are serving an average of 3 warrants per household, it gets to be harder and harder to avoid being labeled a felon. And no matter if you’re 90% of the population at that point, it’s going to be hard to take advantage of “population dominance” then. One thing the Southern white male power structure has always been diabolically clever at is the control of the many by a few — largely by owning the legal system and using the tactics of terror.

        This game seems so totally and obviously rigged.

        Even while the white minority pats itself on the back for how “involved” they are in civic issues and on boards, their fundamental stance has always (apparently) been hostile. If only sub-consciously. When the say they “weren’t going to give up their town without a fight,” as their demographic numbers shifted, that says a lot. Who the hell was asking them to “give it up”? Have they never heard of the concept of power-sharing? Why do these situations have to be defined in terms of who “controls” whom? It’s as though their innate belief is still that a person is either a master or a slave — there’s no in-between. What about the concept of peers? What about equality?

        This town has a pocket of purulence in it that has burst wide open for the whole world to see, and we can only hope that better health will eventually result from getting some of the people currently in power onto the retirement and/or unemployment roles. The sooner the better.

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          Interesting comments in your last reply. If all that is in the report is as the ArchCity reports says, then your case is strong. The problem I have is that the report makes leaps from its strong reporting of the data you have cited and alluded to….to the kind of conclusions you last in your last post. I do not know the truth of it. I am looking for collaborating info….so far coming up empty.

          • kesmarn says:

            Is it the “escalating charges” comment that you’re questioning, Murph?

            It would probably be more accurate to say that situations develop in which committing felonies is all but unavoidable. E.g., Someone is incarcerated for failure to pay court ordered fines, missed work, loses his job, falls behind in child support to a felony level (anything over $1000 in Ohio). Bingo.

            • MurphTheSurf3 says:

              Oh, I can see how it could happen. My question is does it? Your extrapolation is logical but is likely. I have a call into a deputy sheriff to ask that question. I looked into it today on line and could not nail it down. You have posed an interesting line of inquiry.

        • Nirek says:

          Kes, are you saying that this is at least partly a Southern white thing? That is kinda what I think.

          • kesmarn says:

            It’s hard to tell, Nirek. I do think there are fewer towns in the north where there’s a large percentage of black citizens in the town and yet almost all the police department, school boards, city council, etc. are white.

            In fact I can’t think of any.

            Toledo is very integrated, but we also have a large number of minority officials in the city --on the city council, on the school board, head of the fire department, the police department, etc.

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          This is a good story about how Ferguson and other similar towns schedule elections. It supports your concern. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/08/18/1322606/-Ferguson-s-election-turnout-is-terrible-by-design-Here-s-how-to-fix-it

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          “Despite Ferguson’s relative poverty, fines and court fees comprise the second largest source of revenue for the city, a total of 2,635,400,” according to the ArchCity Defenders report. And in 2013, the Ferguson Municipal Court issued 24,532 arrest warrants and 12,018 cases, “or about 3 warrants and 1.5 cases per household.”

          https://www.dropbox.com/s/vwptqn3mhq9xvy7/ArchCity%20Defenders%20Municipal%20Courts%20Whitepaper.pdf

          The report is interesting. Municipal Court. No felonies. These are almost all traffic violations.

          In my experience it is very rare for those in power to offer to share power with an emerging constituency- in fact nearly unheard of. BUT it is a different matter entirely when those in power block those who are not from access to the means to gain power.

          • kesmarn says:

            Overall, we found that by disproportionately stopping, charging
            and fining the poor and minorities, by closing the Courts to the public,
            and by incarcerating people for the failure to pay fines, these policies
            unintentionally push the poor further into poverty, prevent the
            homeless from accessing the housing, treatment, and jobs they so
            desperately need to regain stability in their lives, and violate the
            Constitution. These ongoing violations of the most fundamental
            guarantees of the Constitution are the product of a disordered,
            fragmented, and inefficient approach to criminal justice in St. Louis
            County. It represents a failure of the Municipalities to comply with the
            guarantees of counsel, reasonable bond assessments, and other
            constitutional and legal rights of those accused. And, perhaps most
            importantly, these practices create animosity in the community.

            I have a feeling it wouldn’t take long for traffic tickets, combined with charges of “failure to appear” along with additional fines and charges for failure to pay fines to reach whatever level might constitute a felony-level of disenfranchisement there. (Many states require all court-ordered debts to be paid before a person is allowed to resume voting.) Even just having been incarcerated makes it difficult to run a campaign for — say — the school board. No matter how fraudulent the charges may be, your opponent only has to point out that you “served time.”

            A town that is much, much overdue for a thorough clean up. When some of the people responsible for the civil rights violations listed above are “doing time” themselves, things might begin to heal in Ferguson.

  6. monicaangela says:

    From Slate:

    http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/08/14/ferguson_missouri_government_why_is_it_so_white.html
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~`
    You can’t really understand Ferguson unless you understand J.D. Shelley. He was a middle-class black man from north St. Louis who in 1945 bought a home in a neighborhood just a few minutes east of Ferguson, unaware of the restrictive covenant that barred its sale to “people of the Negro or Asian Race.” Alas, this move inflamed Louis Kraemer, who lived ten blocks away and was well aware of the covenant. Kraemer was temporarily vindicated when the Missouri Supreme court backed his lawsuit to enforce the covenant, but the United States Supreme Court overturned the Missouri ruling and forbade the state from enforcing such private agreements. In the wake of the Shelley v. Kraemer decision, blacks began to move out of crowded north St. Louis City, where many had been packed into high-rise projects such as the infamous Pruitt-Igoe, to north St. Louis County.

    This exodus created massive tension between increasingly black suburban electorates and white leaders whose stranglehold on municipal political power was total. The North County white power structure’s supplying of jobs in public safety departments, and of lucrative construction and service contracts, to white allies cemented their status as political and economic elites—and the status of blacks as disempowered outsiders.

    http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119106/ferguson-missouris-complicated-history-poverty-and-racial-tension

    I could go on, but if you have read these articles, one by the way is where you got most of your information so you should be able to just peruse that one, the other gives you more detailed information as to why things are as they are in Ferguson, voting is the least of those peoples problems.

  7. MurphTheSurf3 says:

    Jose Diaz Balart on MSNBC interviewing Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton. Her analysis:

    1 Social media informs and organizes but it also provokes and fragments.
    2 The mix of peaceful protestors with provocateurs makes keeping order very difficult and it sullies the message of the
    3 Too few elected leaders present on the ground on an ongoing basis.
    4 There are several Fergusons: white and black lower middle class in the majority with blacks dominant, poor blacks and whites with blacks dominant.
    5 Unemployed, under-educated angry young black men are easily pulled into acting provocatively by provocateurs- a number of them from outside the community
    6 All of this inflamed by a militarized police dressed to kill as in a theater of war
    7 A series of local, county and state goverment missteps, and outright mistakes in handling the Brown death and subsequent community anger.
    8 Thankfully the federal government has been there almost from the first day with the FBI and DOJ involved and presidential statements which she called level-headed and balanced..
    9 The nature of the death of Brown and the way his body was treated is the base upon which all of this is built.
    10 Change must begin with the involvement in and commitment to the electoral process by the black community.

    Interesting.

    • monicaangela says:

      Eleanor doesn’t seem to have her facts straight.

      Pointing to seized Molotov cocktails and two seized guns displayed before him, Johnson told an early-morning press conference that police had been attacked throughout the night but had not fired a single bullet.

      “These criminal acts came from a tiny minority of law-breakers,” he said. “It is criminals who throw Molotov cocktails, fire shots and endanger lives. These are not acts of protesters but acts of violence.”

      At least two people were shot in the violent overnight melee and 31 people were arrested -- with some of those detained coming from New York and California, Johnson said.

      http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-brown-shooting/michael-brown-protests-ferguson-hijacked-criminals-cops-n183671
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

      It has been said since the violence started that those who are committing the violent acts are not from Ferguson. But some continue to try to paint a picture of poor black people robbing and stealing because they well for lack of a better way of saying it just don’t have anything and need to steal…lack of education, hard luck and despair drives them to it….really, how ridiculous. Read the facts….these violent protesters the majority of them come from other states and other counties in the state of MO.

    • M Cubed says:

      Thank you for the cogent information, Murph. Representative Norton is clinically correct in her assessment. But the question remains: “how do we bell the cat?” It is all well and good for white people like me to stand outside the riots and give suggestions about self-sufficiency and agency--but I will no doubt sound to those inside the circle of fire as if I am towing the t-party line. We can see that the majority of people in Ferguson need to take matters into their own hands, rather than allowing the white elite or the black trouble-makers to define them. I would say that there are plenty of law-abiding folks there who could form citizen militias and stand watch over the businesses at night. But what will stop the white police force or the National Guard from arresting them or worse for violating curfew. I get the niggling feeling that the police really want the violence to continue as a justification for their reaction.

      • PollyTics says:

        I have that very same niggling feeling and am distracted by that very possibility and how it is being ignored.

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        Norton is both a black and feminist activist who I have learned has lots of contacts within the broader community. I suspect she was was reflecting info from those contacts.

        I agree that citizens need to take control. It seems to me that best way of doing this is to agree to daylight marching/demonstrating only. It is not dark here until well into the evening. In that way anyone else in a mass gathering after dark becomes subject to extra scrutiny. That is the only way I can see to break the cycle.

        Citizen militia are not, in my mind, a good way to go, to much potential for widespread violence. The presence of provocateurs from outside the community is now pretty clear.

        As to the police- the militarization as a first step is a mistake and provocative in its own right. Further I do agree that there are police who welcome the rocks, bottles, and gun fire as ‘proof” of the necessity for their action.

  8. Kalima says:

    We can voice an opinion on the failures of not voting in any town, but we don’t live there, or feel their history of oppression, so who are we to judge?

    Are any of us rolling up our sleeves to go there to help to empower them? Then why criticise what we don’t know for sure? We are not lawmakers, we can only vote in any country to make slow changes in policy. If the “we the people” were so powerful, then “we the people” would have taken to the streets by now to protest all over America. The people of Ferguson are not too tired or disorganised to vote, they are just too tired of discrimination and having to fight against it. Hence the continuing protests. Sometimes enough is really enough.

    The biggest shame that America faces is that those being discriminated against the most, are American citizens.

    I have no country to feel patriotic about, but consider myself to be a citizen of the world. Therefore what is happening in America is very painful and affects me too.

    • monicaangela says:

      Excellent comment Kalima…please read this article, it will give you more understanding regarding this issue:

      http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119106/ferguson-missouris-complicated-history-poverty-and-racial-tension

      Thank you.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      As a Missouri resident and as a community organizer who has been to Ferguson several times, most recently last Friday for a day of meetings with organizers and participation in a demonstration march and prayer service, and as someone who has worked hard to become familiar with the political and social environment there, I believe that the perspective offered in my post and in the responses to the comments made to the post are well founded.

      I found Congresswoman Norton’s comment this morning of particular value.

      • Kalima says:

        I won’t deny that you have met with everyone you say you have, Murph, but a few days of meetings can never cancel out the oppression felt for decades. How about asking the people what they want? Isn ‘t that the whole argument of your post? Getting black people to vote?

        From video clips so far, many residents of Ferguson, know exactly what they want and just are not sure how to get it because no one ever gave them the chance or respect.

  9. monicaangela says:

    Nice try, but no cigar:


    The immediate problem in Ferguson is neither residential segregation nor its demise. Rather, as many have pointed out, it is that the racial integration of the community has not been reflected in the municipal government and police force, whose racial composition still reflects the status quo of the 1980s.

    In fact, the problem is even worse in some of the communities surrounding Ferguson. For instance, Black Jack and Jennings are over 80 percent African American, with white mayors and evenly divided city councils. Hazelwood and Florissant have all-white city councils in spite of black populations of around 30 percent. Six out of seven members of the board of the overwhelmingly black Ferguson-Florissant School district are white.

    Although low voter turnout has been a problem for blacks in Ferguson and some other counties, this has been orchestrated. Honestly, this has very little to do with voting or economic worth of the people of Ferguson…this is systemic and cannot be equated to anything other than racism in America.

    Historically, off-cycle elections have been a favored strategy of established ethnic groups in American cities who wished to keep immigrants and minorities out of power. In North St. Louis County, the most organized groups are white homeowners who have been in the same neighborhood since the 1970s, along with police officers and municipal employees who benefit from the status quo, and they have been able to dominate local elections.

    Learn more here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/08/18/is-segregation-the-problem-in-ferguson/

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      More than a nice try….the article you cite is one of those I read in preparation for my post….it supports my thesis.

      Let me quote from the article you cited (and also quoted extensively from)- emphasis added:

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/08/18/is-segregation-the-problem-in-ferguson/

      This problem of asymmetric representation can be fixed, but it will require mobilization around a specific reform agenda. As explored in an earlier post, this asymmetry in political power can be explained in part by low African American turnout associated with low-profile April elections in odd-numbered years.”

      “Recent research by political scientists has shown that small but well-organized interest groups, such as unionized teachers and municipal workers, benefit handsomely from low-turnout off-cycle elections. Historically, off-cycle elections have been a favored strategy of established ethnic groups in American cities who wished to keep immigrants and minorities out of power. In North St. Louis County, the most organized groups are white homeowners who have been in the same neighborhood since the 1970s, along with police officers and municipal employees who benefit from the status quo, and they have been able to dominate local elections.”

      “Let us not learn the wrong lessons from recent events in Missouri. By no means does Ferguson prove the defeatist claim that blacks and whites cannot live together in peace as the inner suburbs transform. Those of us who grew up in the integrated Ferguson-Florissant area in recent decades know otherwise. It is not a post-racial paradise, but it is a functioning multiracial community. What we are seeing in Ferguson is not merely the latest manifestation of the age-old problem of segregation and housing discrimination. Rather, it is evidence that the best hope for a solution – -the creation of integrated middle-class neighborhoods such as Ferguson — cannot work without political inclusion and accountability.”

      “Hopefully, the legacy of August 2014 will be the genesis of mobilization among a new crop of community leaders and candidates for local office in conjunction with a movement aimed at consolidating elections in order to make governments and police squads more reflective of the increasingly diverse suburban communities they serve.”

      MY POINT, THE ARTICLE’S POINT, AND YOUR POINT (VIA THE MATERIAL YOU PRESENTED FROM THE ARTICLE) is that political power depends on organization which results in viable candidacies, strong campaigns, registration and turnout.

      Your comment is one long quote from the article with the exception of the following sentence. “Although low voter turnout has been a problem for blacks in Ferguson and some other counties, this has been orchestrated.” That is not from the article you cite and quote.

      How is “orchestration” nefarious if it is the result of organizing energized by ethnic identification and common interests.

      The article you cite is a fitting companion piece to the narrative re. the school board in 2013. If your point is that the white minority out-organized the black majority, that is fair. If your point is that those in power, backed by white minorities, are likely to act in ways that favor their constituents and even make it easier to win, that is fair.

      Or are you suggesting that there has been voter disenfranchisement, gerrymandering and election fraud that are nefarious?

      It seems to me that you are in agreement with my position.

      • monicaangela says:

        You missed a very important part of that article, I suggest you read it again. :)

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          Your comment on Off cycle elections -- it pinpoints the necessity of strong, ongoing and focused leadership. When the tactics change so must the response to them. However, election dates are published one year in advance and surely a well organized community organization could address issues of registration, candidacy and turnout in that time?

          As to the Jeff Smith Story: Good insight from him in the NYT editorial page a couple of days ago. Here is a reference to it at Slate. http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/08/18/ferguson_police_department_the_economic_incentives_that_make_cops_harass.html I agree with it.

          I don’t how your story re. Jeff Smith’s parade experience and later conversation with a young black woman connects with your closing about knee-jerk white paternalism.

          By the way Smith who is white was a member of the State Legislature….who was running for Congress and got caught in a very interesting story. In sum: former Democratic member of the Missouri Senate, representing the 4th district from 2007 until 2009. His district covered the western portion of the City of St. Louis, including Ferguson. On August 25, 2009 he pled guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and resigned his seat. He admitted his involvement, and attempted cover-up, in two federal election law violations committed during his 2004 campaign for Congress. These violations involved his campaign’s coordination with an independent group to fund and create a mailer with information about the voting record of his opponent, Russ Carnahan.

          Fuller story at:
          http://www.newrepublic.com/article/politics/magazine/81363/jeff-smith-fbi-car-bomb

        • MurphTheSurf3 says:

          Tell me what you though I missed.

          Are you going to respond to my reply to your comment?

          • monicaangela says:

            ****Historically, off-cycle elections have been a favored strategy of established ethnic groups in American cities who wished to keep immigrants and minorities out of power.***** This is a strategy, and it is worked in so many different ways it could make your head swim. Even if the black citizens of Ferguson did have time to try to figure out how to beat the system, the tactic would just change. Have you or have you not notices how nationally republicans are trying to limit the vote…same strategy, and whether many people want to vote or not, they are finding ways to make sure many of those who have the right and should be able to don’t get the opportunity. That got by you I guess.

            Then there is this from someone who ran for office in Ferguson, he is now a professor in New York:

            By the end of the parade, there were dozens of kids jogging along with me, dribbling balls. My dress shirt was soaked through with sweat, but it was worth it.

            Weeks later, I was out shaking hands in a busy shopping district, when a young black woman approached me. “You’re Jeff Smith, right?”

            “I am. Great to meet you. What’s your name? Appreciate your support!”

            “Oh, I’m not supporting you,” she said tartly. “In fact, I plan to spend every day between now and Election Day telling everyone I know not to vote for you.”

            “Can I ask why?”

            “Because you think I’m a monkey.”

            I was perplexed. “What are you talking about?”

            “Yeah, you think we’re just a bunch of stupid monkeys who will vote for you because you dribble a basketball fancy in our parades. Yeah, I saw you. It was the most insulting, offensive thing I’ve ever seen a politician do.”

            I flashed back to that day. I’d been so caught up in the cheering I never even considered how others might have perceived me.

            “But—it was a parade!” I told the woman. “I couldn’t give a speech! I was just trying to communicate in the only way I knew how, in the moment…”

            “Well, I got the message. And you need to hear my message: I couldn’t care less who wins, as long as you lose.”

            This week, that sentiment seems to describe the feelings of many of those massed in Ferguson. They want white St. Louis to quit it with the knee-jerk paternalism and actually hear their message. They want white St. Louis to finally make an effort to grapple with its shameful racial history, a history in which a complex alchemy of private decisions and public policies conspired to leave north St. Louis County divided by race and class. They want to win some agency of their own lives instead of being at the mercy of forces that have so often let them down—or actively impeded them.

            But will white St. Louis listen?
            http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119106/ferguson-missouris-complicated-history-poverty-and-racial-tension

  10. pinkpantheroz says:

    Murph, I think you have answered your own question. You said: “The issue boils down to who votes. Ferguson’s black community is younger, poorer, more transient, than the white population. All of these factors make black residents less likely to go to the polls, especially in low-turnout municipal elections. And so whites, whose roots are deeper and who are organized to mobilize, dominate politically.”

    I watched the unfolding drama on Al Jazeera English and this was mooted as the main problem, that the black population was not organised enough to mount campaigns for local office. I don’t know all, of course, but I still keep asking myself if the malaise is deeper than just that. I don’t know the answer, anyway, as to how to to re-educate racist whites that it’s not OK to gun down unarmed alleged thieves. It’s chilling that one of the thoughts that came into my mind was the old Nazi excuse: ‘Shot while trying to escape’.

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      Political power in St Louis County depends on organization but that depends on a number of factors to which you allude. It is hard to organize a community where malaise is deeply rooted.The behavior of the police, on the other hand, while reflecting who is seen as powerful also is the result of a national movement toward racial division, animosity and fault finding. Add in the shift to police as occupying forces militarized to meet that mission and it is a formula for disasters like this one.

    • monicaangela says:

      You have some of the answers listed PPO, there are many more answers to the puzzle. You are correct in connecting the police in St. Louis county with the Nazi’s, they actually wear brown shirts, and are called the brown shirts by the citizens of Ferguson…coincidence? Maybe not. :)

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        Monica, you also made a reference to “Nazis” in reference to Brown Shirts…perhaps you did not intend to link them. PPO’ comment was about the tactic of blaming the victim for being shot by the police as the result of an escape attempt.

        You picked up on that with “You are correct in connecting the police in St. Louis county with the Nazi’s, they actually wear brown shirts, and are called the brown shirts by the citizens of Ferguson…coincidence? Maybe not. :)” And then you went on to say that you have people you know who refer to the police as Brown Shirts. SO….are you suggesting that the police are acting in ways that emulate the Nazis? Are you suggesting that local people here make that connection?

        Perhaps I am just confused.

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        I’d be really interested in your source re. the police as “brown shirts.” I.E….The citizens of Ferguson refer to the police as “brown shirts”.

        • monicaangela says:

          [img][/img]

          • MurphTheSurf3 says:

            “Okay, you are now trying to obfuscate so I’ll leave you to your misery. Have a nice day.” You left me the picture. My comment was meant to point out that just wearing brown shirts does not make one a Brown Shirt. Lots of policing forces wear these. No obfuscation at all. I do not find the image supportive of your point.

            As to “my misery”. I am having a great time.

            • monicaangela says:

              My comment was that some of the residents of Ferguson call the St. Louis County Police “the Brown Shirts.”

              “You are correct in connecting the police in St. Louis county with the Nazi’s, they actually wear brown shirts, and are called the brown shirts by the citizens of Ferguson…coincidence? Maybe not.”

              I’m happy you are having a great time, so am I. :)

          • MurphTheSurf3 says:

            I can show you dozens of images of police dressed in similar fashion from across the country. Brown, blue, and white are the three color most seen.

            • monicaangela says:

              Okay, you are now trying to obfuscate so I’ll leave you to your misery. Have a nice day. :)

        • monicaangela says:

          They do, and my source is people I know who live in St. Louis. You might also want to ask NoManIsAnIsland, he lives 9 miles from Ferguson, MO.

          Look above this comment, you will find a picture that might open your eyes. :)

          • MurphTheSurf3 says:

            I have seen no mention of this in any media source available to me. I have been paying close attention. It seems to me that some reporter would pick up on such a provocative framing of the dress of Ferguson police as Nazi Brown Shirts.

  11. Beatlex says:

    Sounds like they need some help from a group like the NAACP to get an awareness campaign,and voter registration happening

    • MurphTheSurf3 says:

      I was there on Friday for the whole day. My short time there and my reading says that you are correct. The area is not organized. There are a number of pockets of organization but they do not work well with each other. The experience of the school board elections is very telling. What should have been three easy wins turned into a fight among conflicting groups in the black community which fractured their vote giving the white candidate the edge. Voter registration is actually pretty high as turnout in 2008 and 2012 for the national elections show but motivating folks for local elections is something else entirely.

    • monicaangela says:

      Or, maybe all they need is equality and the elimination of trickery during the scheduling of elections and so much more that most people are not aware of.

      Public policy in the United States is the product of decisions made by more than 500,000 elected officials, and the vast majority of those officials are elected on days other than Election Day. And because far fewer voters turn out for off-cycle elections, that means the majority of officials in America are elected by a politically motivated minority of Americans. Sarah F. Anzia is the first to systemically address the effects of election timing on political outcomes, and her findings are eye-opening.

      The low turnout for off-cycle elections, Anzia argues, increases the influence of organized interest groups like teachers’ unions and municipal workers. While such groups tend to vote at high rates regardless of when the election is held, the low turnout in off-cycle years enhances the effectiveness of their mobilization efforts and makes them a proportionately larger bloc. Throughout American history, the issue of election timing has been a contentious one. Anzia’s book traces efforts by interest groups and political parties to change the timing of elections to their advantage, resulting in the electoral structures we have today. Ultimately, what might seem at first glance to be mundane matters of scheduling are better understood as tactics designed to distribute political power, determining who has an advantage in the electoral process and who will control government at the municipal, county, and state levels.

      http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/T/bo16956602.html

      • MurphTheSurf3 says:

        Anzia’s work re. practices in the scheduling and organizing of electionsis important. If this is your point then I agree with it. Off cycle scheduling is certainly a tool that is used by those in power to maintain their positions. How is it combated? Court challenges (when the courts are not predisposed to rule in favor of those who want the status quo) and electoral counter-organizing. It takes a lot of work to fight the system and to win. Given the 3 to 1 advantage in numbers it would seem that the base is there to turn thing around but there are other patterns that make this difficult to manage. These are explored here. http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/8/18/st-louis-segregation.html


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