Absurdity of Drug War in St. Louis: Video of St. Louis drug arrest stirs controversy

I thought you might be interested in this story: Video of St. Louis drug arrest stirs controversy

Local cops planting drugs on suspects has been going on a long time. Seldom anything is done about it because there is never any evidence. This video is a blessing in that it exposes this practice. The Drug War is an absurd immoral war no more successful than Prohibition. It only accomplishes two things: feeding the prison-industrial complex and transforming the police from being protectors of the community to an army of occupation. Let me briefly look at some of the hypocries in local St Louis drug policy.

St. Louis City Class Issue

If you are a poor white hoosier in south city, the north side or out in the county there are complex buy-bust and surveillance operations dedicated to sending you to jail. This is often for amounts of drugs worth as little as $10 and $20 for which people can get felony convictions. Some go to prison costing the taxpayers a lot of money. If you are black and living in “hood” areas of the city and North County the police basically exist as an invading army dedicated to small drug-busts.

Meanwhile if you have money ( and are white) drugs are virtually legal. Sometime the difference is right across the street.

Downtown bars serving loft-dwellers, college students, Central West Enders, and West County folk are flush with coke, Mollys, and other pills. The club that is most notorious for drugs has a full time off-duty police presensce in uniform outside. Just a few blocks north in Carr Square and O’Fallon Place police are coming down hard for less amounts of crack, heroin and pills.

The Grove, a neighborhood popular with gays and hipsters, is also flush with drugs (and the  underage prostitution of young black males but that’s another discussion). Again this is an area heavily protected by police, mostly white, and slighlty affluent for St. Louis standards. In the same area black remnants of the Forest Park Southeast neighborhood are heavily policed for drugs.

I recently had a discussion with a white hipster dealer in The Grove and he said something I have known for years: ” the city is really desperate to get young white kids from the county to move in so they turn a blind eye to a lot of shit”. He even said cops periodically check up on him to make sure he is OK. Politically we also know The Grove has become very crucial to local politics so maybe some don’t wanna ruffle feathers.

I think with drugs and drunk-driving that is the policy in the city and county. If you are poor or working-class they come down hard. If you are white and have money you get a free pass. Dealers in West County, the CWE, downtown, certain south side hoods and The Grove are selling major weight yet you never hear of any busts. Why is that? While at the same time local jails are full of small-time offenders.

Drugs and Race

We all know that a lot of this hypocricy has to do with race. However, I will just share two personal experiences.

A couple of years ago I had a group of black friends over to my northside home to watch a basketball game. After the game I stood outside and talked to the brothers and gave one a few dollars for some work he had did for me. Out of nowhere a car came speeding up to us with a clean-cut white guy poor excuse for an undercover cop asking for drugs.

“Punk motherfucker we not into drugs so drive off before I snatch out of your car and beat your ass”. I said.

My friends drove off and the guy followed them all the way to the gas station on Salisbury and 70. That was a race thing pure and simple. White guy in a black neighborhood attracts heat and it was inconceivable to this dumb south side hoosier cop that we were friends. Have had the police mess with me many times over the years for the exact same thing.

It reminds me of an incident years ago when my sister was thoroughly violated by Ferguson cops under similar circumstances.

Prescription Drugs

Do you know that while people are casually selling thousands of dollars worth of drugs at the bars I described above people are getting felony convictions and prison time for one or two prescription pills? Can anyone honestly say this is just? Or wise?

Prosecution Instead of Treatment

wouldn’t tax dollars better be spent on treatment?

The Real Gateway Drugs

The real gateway drugs are alcohol and cigarettes. There may be no bigger group of lushes than cops and prosecutors. I don’t blame them they have a hard job. Just sayin. I think with weed, even in a conservative area like St. Louis, we are heading in the direction of legalization. People see the hypocrisy of people going to jail for weed when alcohol is legal.

Belleville School Bus Incident: Kids, Race, and History

Belleville School Bus Incident: Kids, Race, and History

What Rush Limbaugh and Gateway Pundit Will Not Tell You

By Umar Lee

As I have stated before I have been offline and have not been able to write like I have wanted to because I have been busy with family issues and financial matters. During this time a lot of things have happened and one of the events that has garnered national news coverage is the school bus incident in Belleville, IL.

For those of you unfamiliar with the incident two black students physically attacked a white student aboard a Belleville school bus and the incident was captured on camera. This led right-wing radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and right-wing bloggers such as Gateway Pundit (from the St. Louis area) to denounce the attack as racist and ramble on using their usual code-worded diatribes about race.

Let me first say that as school fights go this incident was very minor. Belleville is an Illinois suburb in St. Louis and I can tell you for a fact that when I was going to high school in St. Louis in the early 1990’s that I saw dozens of fights much worse and far more violent than this.

Many of these fights happened to break down along racial lines. Why? Because many friendships are based on neighborhood or family and that tends to lead to racial divisions. Then you have the issue that the St. Louis-area has had poor race relations for many decades and the kids just follow the example of the adults. Next, there is the simple fact that most people just choose to be with other people who look like them.

There is also a culture clash. When my older cousins and father was in school there were racial fights in which sometimes whites won and sometimes blacks won by they were hotly contested. By the time I got to school many white males had been feminized and were a lot softer than the older generation (and it is even worse today). Therefore, when racial fights went down, as they often did, a lot of times the whites would get beat up because they did not know how to fight or could not muster the courage to fight back because they were raised to tell the teacher they were bullied on rather than to fight back. 

Several times I saw groups of black students jump on white students; but I do not see this as racism rather as an example of tough black kids playing by the rules of the streets fighting white kids whose friends would not help them because they come from sheltered suburban environments that do not produce toughness.

This is not to say all young white males are weak. My tough blue-collar white father taught me to fight back from a young age and I know many other white fathers do the same. There are still young white boys on football teams, in boxing gyms, and learning the fighting arts. However, it is just far more common for young white males to be on soccer teams where even the losers get trophies and you can suck and still get cheered.

Belleville borders East St. Louis and many, if not most, white residents of Belleville have their roots in East St. Louis. In the 20th century East St. Louis was marred by racial violence with an anti-black pogrom in the teens and a black race riot in the sixties that led to whites fleeing the city in droves.

 People my age do not remember this, but there used to be affluent white neighborhoods in East Boogie and working-class Irish and Slavic sections. Today ESTL is virtually 100% black and just as many blacks in North St. Louis have migrated to North St. Louis County, and blacks in Southeast DC migrated to Prince Georges County, and blacks on the South Side of Chicago have migrated to the southern suburbs, many ESTL blacks looking for a better life or better schools have migrated to Belleville.

This has created some tension because many whites moved there to get away from blacks in the first place. There have been many reports of the Belleville Police Department harassing African-American motorists in the area.

These issues do not have anything to do with the school bus fight but they put some color on it. Almost anything that happens in the St. Louis area people will ascribe to race. After all this is an area that is divided on almost every level along the lines of race.

Rush Limbaugh knows this well and so does Gateway Pundit. Rush is from Southeastern Missouri, just about an hour and a half drive south from St. Louis, and he has family in St. Louis so I am sure that he knows the area well. Gateway Pundit is from somewhere in the St. Louis area (hence the name) and I will speak to him for a moment.

I know a lot of conservatives in St. Louis and I grew up with quite a few and because of this I have never fell for the sugar-coated version of conservatism touted in the media that even many naive Muslims have fallen for.

To be white and to be conservative in St. Louis more than anything else means that you are hostile towards African-Americans. Back in the day you opposed bussing and later you may have fought to keep your neighborhood white and when you could no longer do that you ran out to St. Charles County (a county that happens to be the most Republican and probably the most racist county in the state) or someplace similar.  You and your buddies don’t like paying taxes because you are not trying to support “lazy ni##ers in North St. Louis sitting on their asses on welfare”.  Today you do not support health-insurance reform for the same reason.

They get outraged when they see this tape because maybe it brings back bad memories for them of their days in school or maybe it just reminds them of how big of pussies they are. Limbaugh and Gateway Pundit talk a lot of stuff; but would they be willing to talk their crap in North St. Louis or the East Side? No, just like they would never have supported the war on Iraq if they had to go and fight themselves.

In this globalized era these people have new enemies to hate; Muslims, Mexicans, ACORN, etc.; but their hate was first for the blacks in their area.  When they saw that white boy get beaten they thought of their own fear. Limbaugh thought of the nightmares he probably had of Donovan McNabb cold bitch-slapping his ass. Gateway Pundit thought of the nightmares of being locked up with a black Muslim cellmate reading the transcripts of his blog before beating his ass. With no US Military, no cops, no private security, no Evangelical Blackwater mercenaries, most of these right-wingers are softer than medicated cotton.

Sure Limbaugh will point to you his love of Uncle Clarence Thomas and Gateway Pundit will cry for that Gladney fool who may have got a beat down at a Town Hall in Jefferson County; but at the end of the day, who are you foolin?

The Double Standard for Some and an Update

I just want to give two examples of the double standard of how white people are treated in society.  I was listening the other day to Jay Dobyns, the author of No Angel, on the Diane Rehm Show on NPR.

Dobyns is an ATF agent who was the first federal agent to infiltrate the Hell’s Angles motorcycle gang. Now, I do not have a great knowledge of the Hell’s Angles, and I do know they are involved in some charity and community work and not all of their actions are criminal. But, what is also known, as Dobyns explained, is that the group is involved in drug-dealing, extortion, and violence (including the murder of enemies).

What struck me as odd is when Dobyns stated that some of the members were white collar people and one guy he knew was even an airline pilot. This illustrates for me how the rules are just different for white people in this society. Can you imagine an employer finding out that a black pilot based out of LA was a Crip? He would be terminated immediately and under federal investigation.

Next, I read an article in the New York Times about the self-described hipsters and artists in the Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn. Now this story could be in any number of high-priced ex-industrial urban areas were affluent young whites are pushing out working-families and diving real-estate prices up.

Come to find out that little Billy and Suzy aren’t really starving artists struggling to pay there 2 and 3 thousand dollars a month rents on their skinny paychecks from the coffee shop. And Lisa has not saved up on tip money at the bistro to buy that million dollar condo that sued to be home to industry.

No, guess what, these trust fund babies are in their 20’s and 30’s and their parents are paying their rents and buying the condos while they pretend they are artistic and edgy. How is this an issue of race? Because the working people that have been pushed out of the neighborhood and the surrounding areas are overwhelmingly black and Latino and this is why it has always been so ironic to me that these white gentrifiers tend to see themselves as ultra-progressive.

This does not have to be Williamsburg. It could be the Lower East Side or Harlem in Manhattan, Logan Square in Chicago, the Central West End in St. Louis, parts of West Philly, Roxbury Boston, or any number of other neighborhoods.

The other factor for me of course, as a Muslim, is that while these families are being displaced they are making way for those engaged in an extended adolescence. Many of these Globos do not take life serious until they are 40 and spend the time between travelling, bar-hopping, experimenting with the foods of the empire, and living a college lifestyle. These urbanist Globo lifestyles tend to be heavy on drinking, partying, loose sexual behavior, delayed marriage, and a detachment from family. So, it not only represents an issue of class and race; but an issue of the God-fearing and the Godless.

Update on B

Just a little update on B and this can go to show you that there are a lot of good people out there who will look out for you when you are down. A fellow driver saw B and after hearing his story gave him his cell number and said call him Tuesday. He called the driver and he picked B up from the shelter and they talked and it was determined that B needed 300 bucks to get back on his feet.

The driver told B he would give him half the money and asked if he knew anyone who might give him the other half. Because B is not from St. Louis his connections are not deep. They considered asking me (and I am glad they didn’t because I definitely do not have that kind of money to give out); but instead B decided to ask one of his favorite passengers.

The guy is a regular rider who is a doorman at an exclusive private club in the city. He takes a cab home every night and the fare is around 8 bucks but he always gives you 15 or 20. B was taken to the club and he asked for the regular rider who was reportedly surprised to see him. After explaining his situation the doorman reached into his pocket and gave B the $150 that was needed in cash (the next time I get the call for this guy the ride is on me).

Tonight B is resting in a motel and tomorrow morning the driver will pick him up to make all the runs he needs to renew his license. .

Obama The New President, America Far From Post-Racial: A Drive Down MLK

This Tuesday, the day after the national observance of the Martin Luther King holiday, Barack Hussein Obama, an African-American, will be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America making him the most powerful man in the world.

I am not someone who is overly pessimistic and believes that the election of Obama means nothing in terms of race-relations. The election of Obama is a sign of the progress in race relations that have been made in America and if you do not believe that just try and imagine an African-American 40 years ago, when half of America was segregated and the other half semi-segregated, even coming close to winning he office of the presidency no matter how qualified they were or how much they sold out.

However, I think that the talk of many in the media, the “netroots”, the young and idealists, conservatives, and liberal activists about the election of Obama making way for a post-racial America is absurd. It should come as no surprise that most of these people are making this argument are white ( or at least not black) and would like to absolve themselves from any racial introspection.

Obama will be inaugurated on Tuesday and hundreds of millions will be watching the event. In St. Louis there are going to be parties thrown all over town especially in the African-American community.

But, when we all wake up in Wednesday, we will still be waking up in a very segregated city. The vast majority of whites will not venture north of Delmar and there are many neighborhoods in St. Louis where African-Americans will still not feel safe after dark. Having a black man in the Oval Office will not change that.

Recently I had an older man in my cab that I guessed to be around 75. I was taking him from the trendy upscale urban neighborhood of the Central West End to the airport where he was catching a flight to Florida. I decided to take him straight up North Kingshighway to Highway 70 which at that time of the morning is the quickest way to the airport.

The man, who lives just blocks from the boundaries of North St. Louis, told me he had not driven through the North Side in at least 20 years and everything looked strange to him. There was a new streetscape, new stores, and new restaurants. The neighborhood we drove through is virtually 100% black and this was a white man.

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Debate With bin Gregory on White Muslim Identity in America

I want to respond to a post disagreeing with my views on the roles of white Muslims in America by a white Muslim brother by the name of bin Gregory over at his blog. My response to him is not out of a spirit of hostility our animosity towards him; but rather in a spirit of trying to clear up any confusion with regards to my arguments.Below is the post of bin Gregory and my new commentary is in dark type and his words are in italic.

bin Gregory: Umar Lee, whose website is frequently enraging but always engaging, is presenting a series of ideas about what it means to be white and muslim, and they are at such odds with each other I don’t know how they stay on the same page.

First of all,

( quoting from Umar) One thing you cannot be and be white in my mind is Muslim.which he believes to be true across the board.

Second, about himself,

(quoting from Umar again) African-American brothers … are the Muslims I have always been the closest to and have been able to identity with the most.

Third, on his favorite punching bag, other white muslims,

( quoting Umar) I despise the patronizing and phoniness of guilty white liberals, but the Muslim community is full of them. These Muslims take shahadah and immediately begin a full imitation of some group, Arabs, Pakistanis, African-Americans, etc, and are subservient and un-critical of these cultures while being fiercely critical of any white culture…. I think that some of these Muslims, but not all, embrace Islam to stop being white…

Several commenters on his site have picked up on the inherent contradictions in these three opinions, the biggest one being, what exactly is the difference between Umar Lee gravitating to the black community, and other brothers gravitating to the Arab or the Pakistani or the black community? I’d sincerely like Umar to answer that, since he is so vicious in his anger at these other brothers. From where I’m standing, there’s no difference at all, except perhaps that Umar had some prior connection to the black community before becoming Muslim

Thank you for this question because this is equivalent to one of those ripe fast balls right down the middle of the plate thrown to Mark McGuire during his great home run chase with Sammy Sosa in 1998. I think gravitating was the wrong word for me to use. Before and after I took shahdah I lived in areas and went to schools and existed in a family that were heavily African-American. I did not see my kinship with the African-American Muslim brothers as a cultural breakthrough or something any different than I would have been doing if I was not Muslim. It is hard for me to see how given the upbringing and living the life I have led that I could be expected to have the same outlook on things and identity as those who had  amore traditional white upbringing.  I saw these brothers as basically coming from the same experience and set of circumstances I had though obviously there are differences due to the fact that we had different skin colors and despite what you may hear from your professors or from the ivory-tower thinkers race matters jus as much in America as it every did and it colors every issue in this society. If I would have thought that I had to gravitate to something foreign, like Arab or Pakistani culture, I would not have taken shahadah, so for the most part, shariah issues aside, I did not change the essential nature of who I was after becoming Muslim. I stopped eating pork but didn’t stop eating the food I liked in order to eat like an Arab or Desi and I wore the clothes I had always worn for the most part without feeling the need to wear a kufee most times or a thobe.

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