|A thin line separates civilization and barbarism… just beyond the horizon rests 98% black East St. Louis.|
A dispute over a spot in line at a food stamp office downstate escalated into a full-fledged brawl.
The fight on Tuesday was captured on video and shows at least four women wrestling and punching each other.
At one point, the video shows two women grabbing each other while a third punches one of them on the back of the head. At another point, a woman walks across the office and punches another person in the face.
Security officers struggled to end the chaos. It took them several minutes to separate the group and restore order. Some of the people involved in the fight initially refused to leave.
The incident happened at the Illinois Department of Human Services office in East St. Louis, reportedly only a few blocks from the police station there.
The nearly three-minute video was posted on You Tube.
“It`s just been cool, everybody standing in line, doing what they do, trying to get their stamps, trying to get, you know, whatever they`re trying to get. It`s never been like this in there,” Detria Graves told the FOX news affiliate in St. Louis.
A spokeswoman with the State Department of Human Services in Springfield said the staff was unaware of the video.
East St. Louis Mayor, Alvin Parks, called for metal detectors at the office at 9th and Missouri, FOX reported.
DAYLIGHT filters through the ether in Africa’s tallest residential building, a brutalist cylindrical skyscraper with a hollow core that drops 54 floors to a ragged base of exposed bedrock. The view into the interior is eerie, a dim light giving it a sci-fi feel that recalls the film “Blade Runner”. But the outward-facing windows offer breathtakingly clear views, some of the best in Johannesburg, South Africa’s commercial capital.
Ponte City was a posh address when it opened in 1975 at the edge of what was then the trendy inner-city district of Hillbrow, during the race-segregated era when central Johannesburg boomed. Ambitious developers planned to add an indoor ski slope inside the building.
|The Economist can’t print the truth: the world DWLs have built would collapse overnight…|
Because Jonathan Kozol, writing in “Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools” let slip a most telling fact(s) about life in East St. Louis, which looks like a direct facsimile of Johannesburg. In the chapter, ‘Life on the Mississippi: East St. Louis, Illinois’ we learn:
East of anywhere,” writes a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “often evokes the other side of the tracks. But, for a first-time visitor suddenly deposited on its eerily empty streets, East St. Louis might suggest another world.” The city, which is 98 percent black, has no obstetric services, no regular trash collection, and few jobs.
Nearly a third of its families live on less than $7,500 a year; 75 percent of its population lives on welfare of some form. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development describes it as “the most distressed small city in America.”
Only three of the 13 buildings on Missouri Avenue, one of the city’s major thoroughfares, are occupied. A 13-story office building, tallest in the city, has been boarded up. Out side, on the sidewalk, a pile of garbage fills a ten-foot crater.
The city, which by night and day is clouded by the fumes that pour from vents and smokestacks at the Pfizer and Monsanto chemical plants, has one of the highest rates of child asthma in America.
It is, according to a teacher at the University of Southern Illinois, “a repository for a nonwhite population that is now regarded as expendable.” The Post-Dispatch describes it as “America’s Soweto.”
Fiscal shortages have forced the layoff of 1,170 of the city’s 1,400 employees in the past 12 years. The city, which is often unable to buy heating fuel or toilet paper for the city hall, recently announced that it might have to cashier all but 10 percent of the remaining work force of 230. In 1989 the mayor announced that he might need to sell the city hall and all six fire stations to raise needed cash. Last year the plan had to be scrapped after the city lost its city hall in a court judgment to a creditor.
East St. Louis is mortgaged into the next century but has the highest property-tax rate in the state. Since October 1987, when the city’s garbage pickups ceased, the backyards of residents have been employed as dump sites. In the spring of 1988 a policeman tells a visitor that 40 plastic bags of trash are waiting for removal from the backyard of his mother’s house. Public health officials are concerned the garbage will attract a plague of flies and rodents in the summer.
The policeman speaks of “rats as big as puppies” in his mother’s yard. They are known to the residents, he says, as “bull rats.” Many people have no cars or funds to cart the trash and simply burn it in their yards. The odor of smoke from burning garbage, says the Post Dispatch, “has become one of the scents of spring” in East St. Louis.
Railroad tracks still used to transport hazardous chemicals run through the city. “Always present,” says the Post Dispatch, “is the threat of chemical spills…. The wail of sirens warning residents to evacuate after a spill is common.” The most recent spill, the paper says, “was at the Monsanto Company plant…. Nearly 300 gallons of phosphorous trichloride spilled when a railroad tank was overfilled. About 450 residents were taken to St. Mary’s Hospital…. The frequency of the emergencies has caused Monsanto to have a ‘standing account’ at St. Mary’s.” In March of 1989, a task force appointed by Governor James Thompson noted that the city was in debt by more than $40 million, and proposed emergency state loans to pay for garbage collection and to keep police and fire departments in continued operation. The governor, however, blamed the mayor and his administrators, almost all of whom were black, and refused to grant the loans unless the mayor resigned. Thompson’s response, said a Republican state legislator, “made my heart feel good…. It’s unfortunate, but the essence of the problem in East St. Louis is the people” who are running things. (p. 9-11)
But what is life like in a city with no white people? [East St. Louis officials institute youth curfew, put limits on clothing for males, St. Louis Post Dispatch, 9-27-12]:
In response to a deadly two days, in which four people under 21 were killed, Mayor Alvin Parks announced Wednesday that a curfew is being enforced effective immediately for the city’s youths.
Parks said teens under 17 will be picked up by police if not in school between 8 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. They will be arrested if out after 10 p.m. without a parent.
Other activities also will be restricted, he said, allowing youths only to attend school, after-school programs, church and work unless accompanied by a parent or guardian. He also cautioned male residents against wearing royal blue or bright red clothing commonly associated with gangs. They could get picked up, too.
What is it really like? [Feds Called in to Curb Eastside Crime, St. Louis CBS, 8-11-11]:
The public housing complexes on the east side of the river might just be the deadliest places in the country, but efforts are underway to secure the area.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is bringing in federal law enforcement to help state and local authorities crack down on crime. Figures show that East St. Louis is nearly twice as dangerous as even the worst streets in Chicago. “You will find that the crime rate here is the worst in the nation,” Durbin says. “The club scene in East St. Louis is a crime scene.”
Durbin says that although the public housing complexes are managed federally, their problems come from local sources.
“You cannot have this club scene turn out to be the wild west, where innocent people are victimized by it, no matter what the revenue is to the city of East St. Louis,” he says. “And you can’t open liquor stores on every corner near housing developments and expect good things to come if you’re open all night.”