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To: County Executive Steve Stenger

After Ferguson, We Must Change Police and Court Practices in St. Louis County

We won-- the first step, anyway. More than 2,100 of us signed the petition, and 300 of us held a march and die-in that shut down the county justice center the first week in December.

Together, we got Stenger's attention.

His transition team agreed to work with us on a summit where area officials can discuss reforms to the debtor prison system trapping low-income people and people of color in prison for traffic violations, court fees and other minor violations and to institute or expand community policing procedures.

His team will also help us work to change policies so that area nonprofits can access funds from an under-utilized state program to get more services to young people of color in the county.

It's a small step but moves us in the right direction toward dismantl ing a legacy of decisions that choked off opportunity for people of color in the region for decades.

Please know that your support has helped us initiate something that can feed into the larger stream of work for racial justice in Ferguson, the region and our nation.

Thanks for everything you do,

Gordon Mayer (on behalf of Rev. Dietra Baker, Laura Barrett and Gamaliel)

Hold a summit for St. Louis County mayors, police chiefs and other law enforcement officials to:

-- Reform the debtor prison system trapping low-income people and people of color in prison for traffic violations, court fees and other minor violations and
-- Institute or increase community policing procedures throughout their jurisdiction.

Why is this important?

We understand the anger in response to yet another young African-American man, Vonderrit Myers, shot by police October 7. It was two months almost to the day after Michael Brown's killing.

Underneath the killings is a web of unjust laws in a patchwork of cities and towns. For example, in September the New York Times reported that municipal court fines have been Ferguson’s second-highest source of revenue. The Washington Post found 71 percent of the people pulled over by Florissant police in 2013 were black.

St. Louis city and surrounding municipalities must work together to reform an archaic, unjust system of debtor's prison and institute appropriate community policing procedures that will help police/citizen relationships and help make our area a model for the nation.

The new county executive was elected November 4 and we cannot imagine a more important priority than reforming policing and judicial practices across our 91 municipalities. Join us in asking our leaders to pledge action to change these policies as soon as they take office.

-- Rev. Dr. Dietra Baker of Liberation Christian Church, Missouri Congregations United, St. Louis
-- Laura Barrett, Gamaliel community organizing network, St. Louis

How it will be delivered

On Wednesday, December 3rd, more than 100 clergy and organizers, youth and local leaders affiliated with the Gamaliel National Network will deliver our petition to Steve Stenger and stage a Ferguson action to call for reform.

St. Louis, MO, United States

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL



2015-04-16 14:23:06 -0400

Petition is successful with 2,182 signatures

2014-12-15 14:42:31 -0500

Petition is successful with 2,162 signatures

2014-12-13 21:56:11 -0500

Thank you! The petition coupled with a march and die-in the first week in December led to a favorable response from incoming County Executive Steve Stenger!

We met with the transition team of St. Louis County executive Steve Stenger and they agreed to convene the meeting we've requested to change regional police and judicial processes. We also found that a state trust fund designated for children's support services has been under-utilized and Stenger's team will help ask state legislators to pass a bill to let some funds be used to help youth of color in Ferguson and surrounding communities.

You can read more here and watch a short clip from the action here:

2014-12-02 13:26:03 -0500

1,000 signatures reached

2014-10-21 18:10:15 -0400

500 signatures reached

2014-10-15 22:12:56 -0400

David Gerth, executive director Missouri Congregations United, offers a short reflection on the past week:

Last Thursday, I discovered my Ground Zero.

The first Sunday of each month, I go to the St. Louis Bread Company at Grand and Arsenal to buy a loaf of bread. Then, Lisa and I head to St. John’s UCC, where I take the bread, bless it, break it and share it as the body of Christ with the Beloved Disciples. Our communion bread comes from Grand and Arsenal.

Thursday night, St. Louis Police used mace and tear gas at that intersection on peaceful protestors.

Whose street? My street.

The Millennial Activists United chanted into the faces (and hearts) of the riot police:

We have a duty to fight for our freedom.
We have a duty to win.
We will love and support one another.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.

They got the message into a 50 year-old, bald, white guy. We’ve had enough of us and them. It’s time for the us to get larger.

2014-10-14 12:17:27 -0400

100 signatures reached

2014-10-13 17:45:53 -0400

50 signatures reached

2014-10-12 00:33:09 -0400

25 signatures reached

2014-10-10 19:14:41 -0400

10 signatures reached