MCU School-to-Prison Pipeline Event Recap

Feedback Encouraged
A guest post series by Jack Seigel

Sometimes it’s hard to be a progressive in the county. Thankfully some high school friends and other community activists started the West County Community Action Network (We Can) in response to Ferguson and problematic racial relations in our backyard, through actions like weekly Black Lives Matter vigils that rotate through west county.

Another initiative of We Can is work on the school-to-prison pipeline. Members met last Saturday after the vigil to talk about a potentially problematic new statute that adds a felony class which could be applied to children who fight at school. Past experience leads us to believe that this statute would be applied in a racially discriminatory way and further strengthen the school to prison pipeline.

Given that Missouri is already the worst state for racially applied discipline, we have a lot of work to do towards a more just and equitable future — towards a world with fewer felon labels and a focus on rehabilitative justice; a world that protects children’s rights to education instead of criminalizing them; and one where we address why kids are fighting, and why people are committing crimes.

It’s time to understand that poverty and lack of opportunity are the root causes of crime. It’s time to come together and provide a world where we all can thrive, not one where people profit from locking up and exploiting the labor of fellow human beings. There is a lot to do, and right now that includes understanding and responding to the statute change.

Meeting Recap

Community response ranged from confusion to fear to outrage. In order to provide clarity on the issue and to leverage the sudden interest in reforming the school-to-prison pipeline, Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU) organized last week’s event, which had a huge turnout. The evening started with organizers from MCU explaining the background, followed by small group discussions about initial reactions.

Representatives from Legal Services of Eastern Missouri and a former Assistant Attorney General explained that the statute was actually not changing much and that children could always be charged. Additionally, kids are always processed through the juvenile justice system before they reach the criminal justice system, except in the most extreme circumstances. This was not satisfactory to members in the audience who wondered why legislators needed to make a change if not to grab more power over an already oppressed group of people— minority children. Additionally, the timing made it seem like the community did not have a chance to respond since the change would go into effect on January 1, 2017. A final indication this was indeed a big change was that school districts had issued statements about how the statute change could criminalize kids.

As people voiced their concerns, it became clear that this passion and momentum could be channeled into something positive. Ideas for increasing involvement included contacting school board members and supporting people who protest and organize around issues of racial justice.

The meeting then broke into small groups and developed a list of possible responses:

  • Create of an app for reporting school staff and administrators at the community level.
  • Hold assemblies/public forums for parents to discuss issues in the schools.
  • Make flow charts for rights of parents and students in the educational setting.
  • Find ways to relate to voters in rural areas and the politicians that represent them.
  • Hold legislative bodies accountable by making them host open forums in their communities and keeping tabs on their legislation and voting records.
  • Organize days of action in Jefferson City, like the one organized by the ACLU.
  • Translate legislation into layman’s terms instead of 600 plus pages of legalese.
  • Eliminate suspensions.
  • Conduct professional development around anti-bias training.
  • Hire more teachers of color.
  • Opt for mediation of school conflict over immediate discipline.
  • Focus on school board elections in the spring.

The MCU facilitator then invited everyone back in a few weeks to develop task forces to act on the action steps each breakout group voted on.

And of course, as we enter the new year, with a new president, a new governor and an increase in hate crimes against minorities, we must remember that it is everyone’s responsibility to speak out against injustice and hate. Silence is violence and we can only progress as a society when we commit to doing so without leaving everyone behind.

For more information and to get involved please connect with MCU and We Can on Facebook.

Feedback Encouraged.

Fridays with an Activist, Ep 2: Cori Bush, Local Pastor and Community Organizer

Episode 2 of an interview series with local activists about their work in Missouri.

Tell me about your work and your organization.

Recently I began getting involved working on homelessness in St. Louis as an independent citizen, not as part of an organization. I am a registered nurse and I worked at a community-based mental health organization in St. Louis City. Many people who are experiencing homelessness are uninsured or underinsured, they sleep outside, lose their meds or can’t afford them. I see the effects that structural problems have on real people and our politicians aren’t vocal enough. I don’t understand it, because everyday people are in dire need of support. It goes beyond housing and we lose sight of the big picture. We are failing some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

How’d you get started?

Growing up, my dad was involved in politics. I learned from him and the seeds were sown young. I am ordained as a pastor and that increased my involvement with community work, feeding people and being very active in the streets. My commitment to the work also strengthened when Mike Brown was murdered.

Thoughts on the recent election at the federal and state level?

Mortified to say the least. I can’t believe we will have five conservative statewide officials. And when you think about the regression all the way up to Trump it’s overwhelming. I can’t picture Missouri under Greitens and I anticipate heavy law and order rhetoric and expansion of police.

How do you mobilize people?

It depends on the task; we have a strong activist community. I am active on social media and use it as a mobilization tool. I have a good network and know who to call so I can put stuff together. I also reach out to clergy and elected officials.

What’s your issue personally?  

I don’t have one. Its homelessness right now, but I work hard for marginalized communities, whoever it is. Silence is violence and I refuse to be a part of the injustices that run rampant in our society.

Advice to other activists?

Follow your passion, let it drive you and never back down. There is no activist god, no one is ordained. You just have to be active and do the work. It’s a learning by doing process.

Thoughts on the state of progressivism in St. Louis?

I love it. So glad I could join, meet wonderful people and contribute. Despite the recent election results we kicked butt and made our state recognize the progressive community. I’m excited to keep working and fighting for justice with these people.

Book recommendations?

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Where do We Go from Here by Dr. King, Freedom is a Constant Struggle by Dr. Angela Davis and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander.

How do you stay inspired and engaged with the work?

I was fighting back tears on the way here tonight because I saw people who needed help. The work is never done, so it’s easy to stay engaged. Just by seeing people who need help and seeing people being active in their communities. My heart breaks when I see injustice.

If I were in charge in St. Louis, I would…

Work to ensure that marginalized communities are taken care of with continuous resources: jobs, homes and training. We can’t move forward while leaving some people behind.

Feedback Encouraged.

Fridays with an Activist, Ep 1: Faizan Syed, Executive Director CAIR-Missouri

Episode 1 of an interview series with local activists about their work in Missouri.

Tell me about your work and your organization.

CAIR stands for the Council on American-Islamic Relations.  It defends civil rights in Missouri; like the NAACP for Muslims. But you can’t just sue everyone all the time, so you address the culture problem. We have to challenge and change perceptions perpetuated by the media and the Islamophobia industry — lots of educational work, youth empowerment, working with elected officials, building alliances in the community. We engage in community building, hold events, rallies and marches, creates councils, have open houses and host a Capital Day for legislative work in Jefferson City.  

How’d you get started?

I studied physics, astronomy and math at Drake University. Then I got swept up in the politics around the Iowa Caucuses in 2008 with Obama, Clinton and McCain, so I switched my majors to politics and history. Then the Ground Zero controversy made Islam an American issue. With the pastor burning Qurans and the right-wing media always making CAIR the villain, I knew I had to work for them. They needed a director locally, so this was my first job out of college.

Thoughts on the recent election at the federal and state level?

Nationally, we were shocked. The day after I saw six, seven, eight year-old kids scared for their safety. I didn’t even know who was president at age six. We had multiple instances of hate crimes against Muslims in St. Louis. It was a mainstreaming of the alt-right, of Islamophobia.  The election brought these from the fringe to the mainstream of American society.  

In Missouri, (Governor-elect Eric) Greitens made fake ISIS hunting permits, but ISIS isn’t here. So he created an image that matches innocent people living in our community. Local candidates ran on an anti-Syrian refugee platform. It was all lies and public manipulation. Missouri went super far right and we will see legislation proposed to create anti-Sharia laws and internment camps for refugees.  

How do you mobilize people?

There are 115,000 Muslims here, mostly in St. Louis and Kansas City. You mobilize them by community building, getting groups together and assessing strengths. Get people to come to events, then you can have a ground game and start registering people to vote, getting emails and building a movement. The hope is recent political events will double our attendance at Capital Day. We need to build ourselves up first.   

What’s your issue personally?  

I care about mobilizing American Muslims because they historically don’t vote or act. We need to change culture in the American Muslim community. Also, I want to unify the community so an issue in KC creates action in St. Louis and vice versa. We can always do more for each other.

Advice to other activists?

Donald Trump is not our challenge; apathy is the biggest issue. Fifty percent of the people didn’t vote. It’s easier and more productive to mobilize Muslim communities than to spend all day yelling at racists.

Thoughts on the state of progressivism in St. Louis?

I would argue that most Americans are progressive, we just aren’t unified.  Progressive values help the poor in middle Missouri, but those people vote against their interests. The election was a triumph of identity politics.

Progressives need to go to areas that don’t currently support them with an issue-oriented educational campaign. Customizing an economic populist message to fit a rural/Christian audience. People get distracted by issues that don’t affect them, because what’s real is complicated. It’s easier to yell about nonsense.

Book recommendations?

Read philosophy and religious books to get a grounding on your values. I like anything by Noam Chomsky. Read history.  

How do you stay inspired and engaged with the work?

This job is not work to me, I love it. I’ve never worked a day in my life. Every day is different and I see things getting better. In the Quran it says something bad might happen, but it’s actually really good for you. We will get people mobilized because of the bad and scary times.  

If I were in charge in St. Louis, I would…

That’s a good one, I don’t know.  

Feedback Encouraged.

The Missouri Revival

Who knows how long many of us felt something shifting beneath our feet.

This past Saturday, concerned citizens from across the state gathered at Lincoln University in Jefferson City to attend the Missouri Democratic State Committee meeting for Q4. From what I understand, the level of participation and energy this time was significantly different from past meetings.

I wouldn’t know; I’ve never gone to one before.

Strangely, the same was true for many other attendees. Most of them voiced that they felt compelled to show up, because this was a crucial moment for state politics. So why did this once routine meeting of usual suspects become especially important? And what does it mean for Missouri?

To answer that, you have to look at not only 2016 as a whole, but the context of the last couple of decades.

The Earthquake: GOP Takeover 2016

Caring about politics requires getting used to disappointment. But in most elections, even if your favorite candidate doesn’t win, you can look to other races to find ideological victories that offer some comfort.

For progressives in Missouri, November 8 offered no such bittersweet moments.

As a few more days passed, things began to change. The shell shock wore off, the hangovers faded, and we peeled ourselves off the floor. The fear and worry shifted quickly to productive energy and strategic thinking: “I must do something.”

A Divided Party

Step back again to the first half of 2016 and the Democratic primary season – a topic almost still too charged to discuss without stirring up feelings of resentment and blame. But solutions for our government can’t really be prescribed without diagnosing the past.

Whether Bernie Sanders could have beaten Donald Trump in a Presidential election is something people will probably be debating for the next half century (if humanity makes it that far). But the reality is that Hillary Clinton lost to the most know-nothing candidate the country may have ever seen.

Clinton supporters will protest and cite the popular vote. But an army of party-line voters in California and New York do not win the Electoral College. And even in states where she lost by a slim margin, this was not a race that should have been even remotely close.

For about half of Democratic primary voters, the panic over a Trump presidency began in July and was fully realized in November. For this half, a Clinton presidency would have likely resulted in relief at best, if not detached apathy. It would have been hard to envision a place for us at the table in the Democratic Party.

But now, both halves are in the same boat, completely devastated.

Both halves have felt deep anxiety and fear, and in return have been told by political rivals, “You’re being ridiculous.”

While the Clinton Democrats are still in mourning and probably still too close to their defeat for blunt critical analysis, Sanders supporters have been processing loss for months and are particularly motivated to start piecing a renewed coalition together.

The Soul of the Democratic Party

The long view gives some context to the deep divisions laid bare in the 2016 primaries. If you’ve been a progressive Democrat for long, you know something about feeling left out.

The Democratic Party (and friends in the media) showing a reluctance to support more progressive candidates got a lot of attention this year with Bernie Sanders. But this same story has played out in a number of elections in my lifetime, with Howard Dean, Bill Bradley, Jerry Brown, and one could argue, Dennis Kucinich. The rationale for this has always been electability.

Being progressive or liberal means that you are not electable because you won’t attract big donors, because you want the playing field to be too level. The sad fact is that elections are now bought, and no one wants to throw money at you if you aren’t going to help turn a profit later.

That machine of corporate politics imploded this year. The candidacy of Donald Trump was a perfect storm of a number of factors: white fragility, sexism, fake news, and an extremely disproportionate fear of terrorism at home. But another major element was the rebuke of both parties’ addiction to cash from special interests. The best metaphor I’ve heard is that Donald Trump is a brick through the window of the establishment. He was an ignorant, hateful vessel for voters’ frustration, but the most powerful tool of defiance they had at their disposal.

I will continue to wonder what would’ve happened if America had an alternative way to reject corporate politics while also standing on the side of inclusion, equality, human dignity, and workers’ rights.

The Growing Progressive Wing

We took the scenic route in getting to the root of why Saturday’s meeting meant something, but I think it’s important to acknowledge what motivates progressives and how that will impact our future.

Going into this blind, I had no idea what to expect. I was even nervous about attending. Like I have thought about politics most of my life: “I don’t know enough to participate – I have no business butting in there. I haven’t earned the right to be at the table.”

Not only was I wrong, but I was reminded of the lessons I learned while participating in the delegate selection and convention earlier in the year. This is a party of regular people, and a whole lot of them are just like you; maybe not a seasoned political veteran, but fired up and ready to go.

Saturday’s agenda included a preliminary meeting to gauge interest in a new Progressive Caucus, as well as a meeting and executive board vote in the existing Women’s Caucus. Both meetings were packed.

The vote for the leadership of the Women’s Caucus drew so many participants, there were people standing in the doorway who couldn’t fit into the room. A slate full of newcomers was voted in, largely by people who had met through work on the primary election and maintained that network. The Progressive Caucus planning meeting, whose organizers didn’t know what to expect in the way of involvement, collected 81 people on the sign-in sheet. The idea of an Environmental Caucus was hatched and work on that has started.

One of the people in the Progressive Caucus meeting, Stephen Webber, was later voted Chair of the Missouri Democratic Party. Another, Genevieve Williams, was voted Vice Chair.

In light of the history that got us here, this doesn’t feel like a fluke. It feels like a progressive revival, sparked for some of us by Bernie, but an inevitability in the broader scope of political evolution in this country. We know that shying away from progressive values has not served Democrats well. Justice, equality, and a living wage for every worker are goals we should state boldly and proudly.

I’ve heard that Democrats who have been participating in the state party for awhile aren’t sure what to make of the new faces. Are these new people loyal? Are they going to keep coming back? Will they do the work?

Putting in time and effort isn’t a question. Many of the people I’ve worked alongside put me to shame. I’m in awe of these amazing women and men who step up to the plate, again and again, even after a painful loss.

As for loyalty, I think blind allegiance is a relic of political history at this point. I doubt the two-party system is long for this world. Some people will start working on third parties from the ground up, which I fully support. I hope those people can also support like minds working within the Democratic Party. Because I’ve seen a lot of party-line Democrats, liberals, leftists, progressives, and socialists arguing about who’s moving forward in the most perfect way, and it’s accomplished a grand total of nothing so far.

The scorched earth in Missouri left few victors and no undamaged egos. Those politicians still standing face an uphill battle and are in desperate need of help. And now there many voters who are completely finished with the two-party system, even with the option to transform how we approach economic and racial equity within it.

In light of all of this, Progressive Dems are throwing up a big, tattered, dusty, tent and including anyone who wants to come on in and get to work. For those who hope to impact the elections in 2018 and 2020, there is an outlet for you in the Democratic Party.

Learn More:

MDP Progressive Caucus

Fight for $15 Event Coverage

Guest blog post by Jack Seigel

I participated in the last event of a day of action organized by Fight for $15 and Jobs with Justice yesterday. The focus was economic justice, living wages, and putting people over profits. There was a strong union presence, plus many religious leaders and politicians.

A brave few decided they would engage in civil disobedience by sitting in the streets, arms linked in solidarity and prepared to be arrested for disrupting the flow of traffic. But disruption is the reason for events like this.

It is easy to get caught up in daily life, to worry about ourselves instead of others and in our daily routine, lose sight of the humanity of the service workers with whom we often interact. We forget that those people have families and struggles, and that their fair treatment is more important than our convenience.

As we assembled outside the union hall people passed out signs for living wages, reproductive rights, environmental rights, and labor rights; all important factors that play into the ability of working people to get by in life. The spectacle was impressive as people played music and danced in anticipation of the coming march. A few other marshals and I moved ahead of the group and blocked the road allowing the procession to cross.

Drivers were mad at first, but that transitioned to curiosity about what was going on as the mass crossed Hampton and went into the McDonalds parking lot. As we circled the building via the drive thru, we chanted:

“Show me 15!”
“Shut it down!”
“This is what democracy looks like!”

Most workers smiled and waved, appreciating that the exploitation of their labor was the reason for our protest. We lined up on the sidewalk as the chants continued.

The police arrived in force and local news stations covered the event.  As the labor leaders led the chants, volunteers moved into the street and sat down together.

Eventually the police issued a warning that our action was illegal, that people risked arrest and that officers would use nonlethal force if necessary. Excessive force or violence was not necessary and the officers rounded up about 20 people. They then warned that they would re-open the street and arrest more people if necessary. Again, force was not needed.

At this point, people made speeches about living wages, social justice, the importance of community, and the history of labor unions becoming active in the struggle for economic justice. Speakers also mentioned how multiple faiths came together recognizing the morality implicit in demanding higher wages and better working conditions. It was refreshing to see such a large and diverse crowd recognizing we all share the burden in exposing oppression.

The protest reminded me of a Cornel West quote, “Justice is the expression of love in public.”  Together, the power of working people will triumph.

Feedback Encouraged.

Election 2016 Post-Mortem Series: How Progressives Can Take the Reins of the Missouri Democratic Party

Part 1: All is Not Lost for Progressives in Missouri

By Danny Gladden, MBA, MSW, LCSW
Community Social Worker

By now, you have had time to digest the 2016 election results. If you are a progressive living in Missouri, you are likely making your way through the stages of grief. As a social worker, I often find myself helping folks through tough moments. Kubler-Ross’ stages of grief and loss are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance — I feel as though I have experienced or observed all of those over the last two weeks, including acceptance.

I have heard many of my progressive friends accept the fact that Missouri is officially a deep red state and suggest that liberal utopias such as New York, Chicago or San Francisco look inviting. But I encourage you to hold off on acceptance for just a moment.

The implications of the 2016 election on our community’s most vulnerable citizens will be catastrophic, but I am not ready to concede Missouri to the conservative majority.

We must not accept the 2016 results as the new status quo; it is neither moral nor strategic.

Missouri’s History of Shifting Political Powers

Missouri has always had a rich and fascinating political history. Only two years in our state history — 1869 and 1870 — have republicans held all statewide offices, majorities in the MO House & Senate, both United States Senate seats, a majority of United States House seats, and the White House. If Missouri progressives do not reverse course, 2018 will look like 1869.

Missouri Democrats filled the Governor’s Mansion from 1945 to 1972, taking a break in the 1980s, and resuming power from 1992 to 2016, with the exception of four years in 2000. Missouri Democrats also maintained majorities in the Missouri House and Senate from 1955 until 2001. In 2001, Republicans gained control of the Missouri Senate and in 2003, Republicans gained control of the Missouri House.  Since 2000, Senate Democrats have watched their caucus dwindle from 18 down to eight of 34 Senators, and since 2003, House Democrats watched their caucus shed 42 seats, down to a total 45 out of 163 members.

Reviving a Statewide Coalition

Missouri Republicans have done a much better job of remaining competitive in all corners of Missouri, recruiting and electing non-partisan aldermen, mayors, school board members and republican county treasurers, prosecutors, etc. These office holders served as a farm team of potential candidates that were used to pluck away at incumbent House and Senate Democrats, and fill openings when members were term limited out. Republicans have office holders in all 114 of Missouri’s counties while vast portions of the state have no Democratic office holders.

In 2016, 66 Republican House candidates and four Republican Senate candidates were unopposed. In many counties, only conservative candidates filed for local office. Despite our voting options, the state is still home to a large coalition voters, both pro-worker and anti-racist. Donald Trump’s margin in Missouri was impressive, but he did not win by changing the landscape of the Missouri electorate.

Trump’s lopsided victory in Missouri meant a death knell for close down-ballot races. For example, while Donald Trump beat Clinton by 19%, Blunt beat Kander by 3% and Greitens bested Koster by 6%. Kander’s 3% loss and Trump’s win with 129,599 fewer Missouri voters than 2008 provides a little progressive hope for the future.

To find that hope, just look back to 2008, when Missouri saw the largest voter turnout in its history with more than 2.9 million votes cast — 69.4% voter turnout. That election saw Barack Obama narrowly lose to John McCain by less than 4,000 votes statewide.  In 2012, Missouri saw 160,298 fewer voters and in 2016, 129,599 fewer voters turned out than in 2008.

Some more good news: despite Missouri’s deep red outcome on November 8, 2016, Democrats added one seat to their House caucus and one seat to their Senate caucus for a total of nine out of 34 senators and 46 out of 163 House members.  

However, if Democrats and progressives are going to dramatically increase membership in the Missouri General Assembly, candidate recruitment and development for all municipal, county and state legislative races will be essential.

Leveraging City Progressives

If progressives are to find success in Missouri, St. Louis and Kansas City metropolitan area voters must be inspired to turn out. As noted above, 129,599 fewer voters cast ballots in 2016 vs. 2008; 120,360 of them or 92% of the statewide abstention came from St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Kansas City, and Jackson County. If those additional 120,360 votes had been cast this year, it quite possibly could have pushed Jason Kander over the edge to victory.

We saw in 2008 and in 2012 that Missouri doesn’t even need to go blue in the presidential race in order to elect statewide Democrats. If we support statewide candidates who favors workers’ and civil rights over corporate interests, they can bring progressive voters to the polls.  

Forging Ahead

Mobilize Missouri is committed to working with other progressive organizations to enhance voter engagement, as well as aid in the recruitment and promotion of progressive candidates in advance of the 2018 midterm elections. St. Louis and Kansas City historically underperform in the midterms and that will need to change if we are going succeed. All is not lost. There is progressive hope for Missouri’s future but only if we thoroughly engage voters in St. Louis, Kansas City, and every corner of this great state by giving them a compelling reason to participate in this process.

Jobs with Justice Community Meeting Recap

Guest blog post by Jack Seigel

Last night, I attended a Jobs With Justice community meeting that included labor leaders, elected officials, community organizers, union members, and concerned citizens, with a spirit of checking in on people post-election and reaffirming a commitment to the work ahead.

As we sat and listened to the reactions from the group, we heard some hopeful responses. A local worker shared how joining a union changed his life and lifted him firmly into the working class, but he never forgot where he came from and was happy to help others follow a similar path.  He wondered aloud about irrational fears of corrupt union bosses.  All he sees are hardworking people who want a better life for their families.  Other members of all ages murmured in agreement.

Many organizers applauded both the amount of new faces at the meeting and the diversity of our coalition.  Inclusive dialogue is important; it starts in union hall basements, continues on the streets with our neighbors, and ends with a unified voice that politicians can’t ignore.  An organizer correctly pointed out that it would take a while to take back the levers of power politically, but organizing people into concentrated expressions of power couldn’t wait, and clearly it wouldn’t.

Some of the most inspiring news was about ballot initiatives and constitutional amendments that just passed in other states and can serve as a blueprint for getting progressive policies in front of voters for a stamp of approval.  Local labor movements also talked about ballot initiatives that have already been filed for 2018 and the work needs to be done; everything from getting signatures to launching get-out-the-vote efforts.

But before we get to that, there are actions we can join in the near future. Fast food workers will be engaging in a strike meant to demand better working conditions and higher pay.  It is important that we stand in solidarity with them, especially because it is impossible to support a family on one or even multiple part time food service jobs.  Working 40 hours a week should get people out of poverty, not keep them living check to check – at the mercy of landlords, not able to afford sickness, vacation, education or savings.  Service workers are undervalued and dehumanized in the quest for cheap food, and the worker is only a means to the end.

When treated as replaceable cogs in a machine by large companies, people get lost and society is happy to keep them lost.  The working class is out of sight and out of mind, while those who are privileged consider moving to Canada and complain about the politics of a rural America that we could not begin to understand and won’t work to reach out to.  Building a broader sense of community – a coalition of people who feel empathy to each other, who stand in solidarity and are committed to social, racial, and economic justice – is what will shield local communities from a creeping tide of national hate.

Feedback Encouraged.

Mobilize Missouri Endorses Curtis Wylde

Curtis Wylde is currently running for the Missouri Legislature in District 107.

 

It is easy in this current political climate to get caught up in the cult of personality and to lose sight of the issues facing us on a daily basis. Curtis is larger than life and it would be easy to dismiss him as a big personality and little else.  But here, as in all discussions about people running for office, it is best to do a bit of digging, learn about the man, his ideas, and how he plans to govern.

As a newly elected member of the DNC, he will be representing progressive ideas for the next 4 years, pushing the Progressive Platform that we worked so hard to create forward on a national level. But that is not enough; Curtis wants to make sure that Missouri moves forward as well.  He states, “If you choose to vote for me in this race, I promise you this; I will make mistakes, I will be learning as I go, but I will do my very best to Represent YOU! I will bring an authenticity, honesty, and integrity that are largely missing from our government on all levels, and may be considered Revolutionary in today’s political landscape. I do not look forward to being a “Politician”. I am very excited and eager to become a “Public Servant”, which is what this office was meant to be. This country is ready to once again be a nation “Of the People; By the People; and for the People”.

To that end, Mr. Wylde supports limitations on campaign financing, believing that publically funded elections; with full accounting transparency is necessary for our democracy. It is no surprise, therefore, to learn he fully supports repealing Citizen’s United. On national issues, he is a staunch supporter of individual rights:

  • For Single Payer Healthcare – so that no person has to die because they cannot afford care;
  • For Criminal Justice Reform – so that no person is seen as a paycheck from the Federal government; why are taxpayers funding private corporations for handling our justice system;
  • For de-escalation of Armed Military Action – so that our soldiers are healthy and ready to defend America, not off policing the world;
  • Against the TPP – so that good paying jobs for working Americans, stay in America;
  • For revision of the Patriot Act – so that individual privacy is maintained, while providing tools for law enforcement to protect our citizens.

Here in Missouri, Curtis wants to fight against Right to Work in Jefferson City, noting that the wage suppression tactics have “no place in creating a robust economy for our state.” Consistent with that, he supports raising the minimum wage to $15/hour. He logically points out that in a consumer-based economy, consumers need to have money to spend, it is therefore necessary to raise the minimum wage so that more people have disposable income, and this helps us all. He fully supports Unions and diversity in their rank and file, so that “all voices get heard”.

Particular to Missouri, due to the aftermath of the Ferguson Protests, he supports the use of Body and Car cameras for the police.  This is for the protection of the citizens AND the police. Video and audio records are much better than eyewitness accounts and help those charged to protect us to quickly get to the facts of an incident. In addition, knowing that police encounters are being recorded holds both the police and the citizens accountable for their actions. That being said, Mr. Wylde is committed to working to de-militarize our community police, stating, “No community should ever fear those that are charged to serve and protect them”.

To better serve our senior citizens, whose ranks increase daily, Curtis supports raising the cap on Social Security to ensure its solvency.

To better serve all our futures, he encourages the legislation for a transaction tax on Wall Street to fund tuition to public colleges. An educated populace leads to a more robust economy and a more socially just society.

To better care for us all, Mr. Wylde is a passionate environmentalist, wanting to ensure that we respect and protect the Earth, which provides our sustenance in all areas of life.

To ensure individual rights, he is Pro-Choice, ensuring that women and their doctors make the choices best for each individual without governmental interference. He is Pro-Love, ensuring that all humans have the right to love and create a family as they see fit.

In his own words, “I am running for State Representative in Missouri’s District 107, because I could no longer stand by and watch bureaucrats not represent the will and needs of the people they’re meant to. I felt compelled to do what I could to make a difference. I saw an opportunity to effect change in my community. I wasn’t groomed for State Congress, but I feel I can be a progressive voice to represent you, our friends and our neighbors in District 107, because I AM one of you. I’ve experienced struggle and pain, success and devastation, and through it all found love and happiness. I was not born with a silver-spoon, didn’t have all the opportunities that some of my more well-off contemporaries may have had. I created my own opportunities, and along with my wife carved a path we can be proud of.

Curtis Wylde – Principle Progressive.

www.wyldeforthepeople.com/

Mobilize Missouri Stands with Standing Rock

All of life depends on clean water. Mobilize Missouri stands with Native American water protectors in opposing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The pipeline’s owners plan to tunnel under the Missouri River at Standing Rock, as well as the Mississippi River further to the east.

Members of Mobilize Missouri and hundreds of our concerned fellow humans will gather for “STL Stands w/ Standing Rock Solidarity March & Solution Rally” at St. Louis Union Station Hotel, 1820 Market Street on Saturday, November 5th at 3 pm. Organized by the Patchwork Hearts Collective and Veterans for Peace, marchers are asked to bring signs, drums, noisemakers, banners and peaceful active spirits.

The militarized response at Standing Rock has persisted, despite a request to halt construction issued by the the U.S. Departments of Justice, Interior and the Army. Pipeline developers Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) have maliciously destroyed the residents’ burial grounds and sacred artifacts, violently attacked citizens with trained dogs, tasers, nightsticks and pepper spray. State and local authorities continue to target journalists attempting to document authorities’ actions, issuing arrests on trumped-up charges. Those arrested have reported being put in holding pens intended for pets and livestock.

Local awareness about the civil rights struggle of the Lakȟóta people has thankfully been growing. On September 9th, led by Alderwomen Megan-Ellyia Green and Christine Ingrassia, the City of St. Louis joined dozens of other cities across America, passing a resolution “in support of the Indigenous opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline and we call on all residents of the City to raise awareness about this important struggle for Indigenous sovereignty and environmental justice and to support the Sacred Stone Camp efforts in any way they can.”

Join us outside Union Station on Saturday, November 5th at 3 pm as we work to expand the awareness and opposition to this epic civil liberties struggle.

Event Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/201979676874427/

Mobilize Missouri Endorses Bill Otto for US Congress

Impressed with his strong convictions that all Americans should receive a living wage, quality healthcare, and a strong education, Mobilize Missouri endorses Bill Otto for the U.S. House of Representative in the 2nd Congressional District of Missouri.

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Bill Otto knows how to work hard for his country. A U.S. Navy veteran, he has worked for 26 years as an air traffic controller at Lambert International Airport. His discipline and ability to work under pressure proved critical to his success in one of the most stressful occupations in America. Given his background in the air traffic controllers’ union, he has always been a strong Union supporter, stating, “The US was built by labor unions… unions are critical to the American way of life. I will work tirelessly in Congress to protect our labor unions.” Otto has received the endorsement of every major union in Missouri, as well as the AFL-CIO.

From his experience as an air traffic controller, Otto backs legislation in support of rebuilding infrastructure. He is strongly opposed to the TPP, which he believes “will accelerate the decline of American manufacturing.” He also sees a way forward in sustainable energy initiatives noting, “Climate change is real… there can be no more arguing with reality. This is critical. We can create jobs and lower energy bills by investing in sustainable energy.” Finally, he understands that raising the minimum wage, and tying it to inflation, returns the pay of hardworking Americans to a middle class living standard—just as it was originally intended. By getting money into the hands of consumers, the economy will blossom as more as Americans buy more of each other’s products and services.

Otto strongly believes that the infamous Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision needs to be overturned, and he is committed to bringing “greater transparency to our democratic process.” In addition, Otto will work to update Glass-Steagall Act, and he will fight the creation of “too-big-to-fail” banks. He supports updating our criminal justice system, making changes that counteract the systemic racism in what should be our most colorblind of government institutions, demilitarizing our police, making BodyCams standard, and ensuring that for-profit prisons are closed. 
Otto takes a pragmatic approach to dealing with the country’s care for the most vulnerable members of our society. He believes in raising the cap on Social Security to ensure its solvency for the protection of seniors and disabled Americans into the next century. While single payer healthcare is what Otto ultimately hopes for our country, until Republicans and Democrats “work across the aisle and get healthcare for every American,” he supports expanding Social Security and Medicare, helping our most at-risk populations—seniors and low income Americans—to land in a safety net that currently is too weak to catch them. In support of this, the government needs to have the power to negotiate drug prices to contain costs to reasonable rates. All Americans will benefit from lower drug prices that reflect reality, not obscene corporate profits.

Bill Otto is Pro-Choice, believing that women know the best when it comes to their healthcare, stating ardently that “the government should not be involved in making critical healthcare decisions, those are best left to a woman, her doctor and her God.” He is Pro-Love, believing that marriage should be all; and emphatically supports LGBTQ rights. He is Pro-Education, proposing a tax on Wall Street to make sure that public universities, colleges and trade schools are free to every American who wants an education past high school. An educated citizen is good for our democracy.
Otto is a patriot, a navy veteran who understands the true cost of war. He believes military action to resolve problems should always be a last resort. Explains Otto, “We must use diplomacy and other soft power measures before we seriously consider any armed conflict.”

A vote for Bill Otto will send a message to our government that its people want logical, compassionate and realistic solutions to our problems. Now more than ever, the importance of sending the right person to Washington is critical to the continuation of America’s promise of opportunity to all people.

To learn more about Bill, please visit www.billotto.org.