The Organization for Black Struggle (OBS)Demands Justice for the St. Louis Justice Center Residents Subjected to Inhumane Conditions

The Organization for Black Struggle (OBS)Demands Justice for the St. Louis Justice Center Residents Subjected to Inhumane Conditions

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For Immediate ReleaseFebruary 8, 2021

Contact Person: Azizi Blissett (314.367.5959)

The insurrection that occurred on Saturday, February 6 at the St. Louis Justice Center in response to COVID-19 has been boiling for almost a year. The prolonged neglect by city officials starting with Mayor Lyda Krewson and Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards is unconscionable and unacceptable. OBS must always remind the public that the city jail and the workhouse are holding facilities until citizens are arraigned and charged. They are innocent until proven guilty.

Last summer, the Organization for Black Struggle began getting calls from inmates who were confined to the St. Louis City and County jails. There were growing concerns about the pandemic and whether these institutions were following CDC guidelines to ensure the safety of both residents and staff. OBS reached out to the directors of both facilities to provide testing through Affinia Healthcare who was committed to sending its mobile units out.On June 29, OBS held a press conference to announce its efforts to get inmates tested at these facilities. We reported that the County used its own Department of Health to perform the COVID-19 tests but that city jail officials were unresponsive.

The new year began with OBS again receiving calls and emails from family members whose loved ones were confined to the Justice Center. We were informed that a guard had been taken hostage and inmates were protesting conditions in the jail that was potentially spreading the deadly virus. On January 1, OBS held a press conference in front of the St. Louis City Justice Center to report what was going on inside the facility. We implored the mayor to investigate and take appropriate actions to maintain order and the safety of parties. Subsequently, we requested a number of documents relative to the incident through the Sunshine Act. To date, no documents have been received.

It was no surprise when we received early morning calls on February 6 that inmates had taken over the fourth floor of the facility, knocking out windows for better visibility and begging for relief. The uprising made national news, once again projecting the city’s racist views in policy and practice. It was also clear that nothing had been done in the last 30 days to rectify the housing situation. Retaliation by staff since the weekend incident have further put the health and safety at risk of those entrusted to their care. It is reported that inmates are being forced to sleep on the floor, some in the cold water left from the fire department putting out fires which had been set. Others have been without food and water for two days.

These incidents underscore the incompetence and indifference of the Krewson administration. The lack of resolution is only escalating the tensions inside. The situation is grave and demands immediate action. We ask the citizens of St. Louis to demand the mayor cease and desist the litany of lies coming out about the situation. The conditions require a committed approach to a healthy and human resolution.

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OBS Racial Justice Organizer

The Organization for Black Struggle was founded in 1980 by community activists, students, workers’ rights organizers and others to address the burning issues confronting the African American community. We are a Black-led and member-driven organization. One of the foundational pillars of OBS is the important work around racial justice.This includes, but is not limited to, police accountability, mass incarceration, judicial reform and the death penalty.

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Poor reporting of data, which initially masked the fact that the disease was disproportionately affecting black communities, remains a problem even as states move to reopen their economies.

Today, Americans living in counties with above-average black populations are three times as likely to die of the coronavirus as those in above-average white counties, according to an analysis of census and other data by The Washington Post.

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Organization for Black Struggle
P.O. Box 5277
St. Louis, MO 63115
(314) 367-5959 | contactus@obs-stl.org

OBS Endorses Elston McCowan for 2nd Ward Alder

OBS Endorses Elston McCowan for 2nd Ward Alder

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The Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) endorses Green Party candidate Rev. Elston McCowan for alderperson of the 2nd Ward. The aldermanic seat was vacated by Dionne Flowers after she was appointed to head the Office of the Register by Mayor Lyda Krewson. The special election is November 7, 2017.

For Immediate Release, October 8, 2017

The Organization for Black Struggle (OBS) endorses Green Party candidate Rev. Elston McCowan for alderperson of the 2nd Ward. The aldermanic seat was vacated by Dionne Flowers after she was appointed to head the Office of the Register by Mayor Lyda Krewson. The special election is November 7, 2017.

OBS uses a specific set of criteria for endorsements and McCowan scored high in all of them. McCowan had a track record of community involvement prior to running for office. He has an energetic campaign organization and his prospects for winning look good.

Over the years, OBS has worked with McCowan on many fronts and in his varied capacities whether it be to rally faith leaders on issues, fighting for justice for prisoners and their families, organizing around environmental concerns or building political power for disenfranchised communities.

Elston McCowan will come to the St. Louis Board of Alders as a public servant committed to fighting for the ideals of democracy, racial equity and justice.

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Recent Posts

OBS Racial Justice Organizer

The Organization for Black Struggle was founded in 1980 by community activists, students, workers’ rights organizers and others to address the burning issues confronting the African American community. We are a Black-led and member-driven organization. One of the foundational pillars of OBS is the important work around racial justice.This includes, but is not limited to, police accountability, mass incarceration, judicial reform and the death penalty.

Read More »

“This is what happens to us” Washington Post article on failed response by cities to COVID-19

Poor reporting of data, which initially masked the fact that the disease was disproportionately affecting black communities, remains a problem even as states move to reopen their economies.

Today, Americans living in counties with above-average black populations are three times as likely to die of the coronavirus as those in above-average white counties, according to an analysis of census and other data by The Washington Post.

Read More »

Sign up for Updates

Organization for Black Struggle
P.O. Box 5277
St. Louis, MO 63115
(314) 367-5959 | contactus@obs-stl.org

OBS Response to Stockley Verdict

OBS Response to Stockley Verdict

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The Organization for Black Struggle stands in staunch solidarity with the family of Anthony Lamar Smith. The Not Guilty verdict is salt in the wounds of the Smith family who sought real justice in the murder of their loved one.  The African American community is full of righteous rage as the ruling of Judge Timothy Wilson represents another douse of gasoline on the perpetual fire of racism and police violence against our community. OBS will not be used to quell the outrage by justice-seeking people to this verdict nor be an apologist for extreme actions by citizens.

For Immediate Release, September 15, 2017

The Organization for Black Struggle stands in staunch solidarity with the family of Anthony Lamar Smith. The Not Guilty verdict is salt in the wounds of the Smith family who sought real justice in the murder of their loved one.  The African American community is full of righteous rage as the ruling of Judge Timothy Wilson represents another douse of gasoline on the perpetual fire of racism and police violence against our community. OBS will not be used to quell the outrage by justice-seeking people to this verdict nor be an apologist for extreme actions by citizens.

OBS worked for over thirty years for local control of the police department to ensure we have accountability to our community. The mayor, the police chief and other city officials must understand there will not and cannot be business as usual in this city when a black life is taken.

OBS believes in non-violent protest and direct action. We also believe that our community must be focused on building alternatives to the police state. This calls for thoughtful education and strategic organizing. When we truly re-envision public safety and how to re-invest our hard-earned tax dollars, old power relationships will change and we are empowered to build something that works for us. We must be creative in our thinking and organizing, such as instituting neighborhood safety patrols, develop mediation centers and creating healing circles.

There is much work to be done as our community grieves its loss. We call for community, faith, civic and labor sectors to come together to plan effectively and to build a powerful racial justice movement in a city and a country that continues to daily engage in anti-black practices and actions. We are the people we have been waiting for.

###

Recent Posts

OBS Racial Justice Organizer

The Organization for Black Struggle was founded in 1980 by community activists, students, workers’ rights organizers and others to address the burning issues confronting the African American community. We are a Black-led and member-driven organization. One of the foundational pillars of OBS is the important work around racial justice.This includes, but is not limited to, police accountability, mass incarceration, judicial reform and the death penalty.

Read More »

“This is what happens to us” Washington Post article on failed response by cities to COVID-19

Poor reporting of data, which initially masked the fact that the disease was disproportionately affecting black communities, remains a problem even as states move to reopen their economies.

Today, Americans living in counties with above-average black populations are three times as likely to die of the coronavirus as those in above-average white counties, according to an analysis of census and other data by The Washington Post.

Read More »

Sign up for Updates

Organization for Black Struggle
P.O. Box 5277
St. Louis, MO 63115
(314) 367-5959 | contactus@obs-stl.org

Organization for Black Struggle echoes shut down of Workhouse

Organization for Black Struggle echoes shut down of Workhouse

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“We need to shut this hell-hole down!”That was the reaction from Derek Laney who participated in one of the recent protests to demand relief for the residents of the St. Louis Medium Security Institution.

For Immediate Release – July 23, 2017

“We need to shut this hell-hole down!”

That was the reaction from Derek Laney who participated in one of the recent protests to demand relief for the residents of the St. Louis Medium Security Institution. Laney is a member of the Organization for Black Struggle, a group who has worked on issues around the prison industrial complex for nearly 40 years.

Laney went on to say, “The Workhouse is in violation of the human and constitutional rights of citizens. This isn’t some Third World country, this is St. Louis, MO in the U.S.A.”

The recent heatwave in the city sent temperatures into triple digits. Reported temperatures in the Workhouse reached 120 degrees because the facility does not have central air conditioning. Residents told OBS that they were given ice chips and rotated to air-conditioned spaces as temporary remedies.

The heat problem has added to the many reasons why OBS and other concerned citizens believe the institution should be closed. It has a long history of abuses and injustices for a population which hasn’t even been convicted of any crimes. Most are waiting to be bonded out or for some judicial ruling; some will even be released for lack of evidence or have their charges dropped because they were wrongfully arrested.  Until then, citizens are exposed to unsanitary and unsafe conditions and to abuses by guards.

OBS is calling for Mayor Lyda Krewson and Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner to develop a plan that closes the Workhouse before the next city budget process. The savings can go to diversion programs that allow citizens who are accused of non-violent crimes to post bond and to access a speedy process for resolution of their alleged crime.

We believe the St. Louis Jails are a judicial entrapment for Black and poor people who are victims of racial profiling and a corrupt justice system. Right now, the Workhouse is looking like a death trap.

###

Recent Posts

OBS Racial Justice Organizer

The Organization for Black Struggle was founded in 1980 by community activists, students, workers’ rights organizers and others to address the burning issues confronting the African American community. We are a Black-led and member-driven organization. One of the foundational pillars of OBS is the important work around racial justice.This includes, but is not limited to, police accountability, mass incarceration, judicial reform and the death penalty.

Read More »

“This is what happens to us” Washington Post article on failed response by cities to COVID-19

Poor reporting of data, which initially masked the fact that the disease was disproportionately affecting black communities, remains a problem even as states move to reopen their economies.

Today, Americans living in counties with above-average black populations are three times as likely to die of the coronavirus as those in above-average white counties, according to an analysis of census and other data by The Washington Post.

Read More »

Sign up for Updates

Organization for Black Struggle
P.O. Box 5277
St. Louis, MO 63115
(314) 367-5959 | contactus@obs-stl.org