City Orders Displacement of Houseless Workers’ Encampment on May 1, Escalating War On The People

By: Huey Dessalines

SAINT LOUIS: Ruling class lackey Mayor Lyda Krewson and the City of Saint Louis Health Department have arbitrarily ordered the displacement of an encampment of houseless workers near the intersection of Market and Chestnut streets downtown. Krewson and her lackies are expressing phony concern about “failure to maintain social distancing and people mixing it up”. Throughout her administration, Krewson has earned the ire of activists, progressive organizations and the New Afrikan community for her defense of police abuse of the masses during the Stockley uprising, her promotion of the billionaire backed “Better Together” plan to merge Saint Louis City and County, and her refusal to meet the demands of the houseless proletariat for basic necessities such as shelter, clean water and sanitation facilities, and the ending of police harassment of houseless encampments and people. The people have rebelled and resisted being removed twice, and progressive organizations such as Tent Mission STL have been ensuring that the masses in the encampment have food and water. Readers can donate to Tent Mission STL on Venmo at @tentmissionstl.

The Krewson Administration and the local Democratic Party apparatus which controls Saint Louis City is firmly in the pocket of the Washington Avenue gentrifiers and big business interests. While they promote the building of ugly cheese grater office complexes and expensive condos in the Central West End and encourage the ongoing gentrification of the West Side, the masses are forced to become houseless and struggle under the mountains of the notoriously violent STLMPD and the incompetent city administration. Krewson also has demonstrated that she has not a progressive bone in her body by refusing to unite with the demand put out by several local organizations, including FTP-STL, to freeze rent and forbid rent debt accruing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, her administration sends the police to harass the most vulnerable residents of the City. The Riverfront Times reports:

People living in a homeless camp in downtown St. Louis say they woke at 4 a.m. today to a police officer rattling through their pop-up community, telling them to clear out. “She just shook everybody’s tents,” Tamadj Shakespeare, 23, says. “It was very disturbing.”

Behind the police officers, a crew of city parks employees stood alongside a work truck, apparently ready to haul away any tents left behind. “They thought that we were just going to leave, and they were going to take our tents,” Marcus Hunt, 29, says. Instead, Hunt and Shakespeare say they referred officers to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines that not only advise against disbanding camps during the pandemic but recommend supporting them with toilets and facilities where people can wash their hands. Outreach workers and volunteer observers, who’d heard rumors a raid was coming, kept an eye on the camps through the night. When a pair of police officers and eight or nine parks workers arrived in the morning darkness, they began to record the scene on their phones.

“[Police] were going around, rousing people, telling them it was time to go,” says Steven Hoffman, a Saint Louis University law student who has volunteered as a legal observer for the National Lawyers Guild. Once the phones came out and people in the camp pushed back, the tenor of the interaction changed, witnesses say. “It appeared they did not want to be filmed doing this,” Hoffman says.

What the city adminstration fails to realize is that the people who have nowhere to go also have nothing to lose. When the people are denied shelter and basic necessities, they rebel and take them. The masses have shown fight and will never back down, nor should they, because they are right. This is another exposure of the contradictions in this city and the world as a whole – this is class struggle at its sharpest. One one side, the revolutionary masses of workers and their allies, on the other, dying side, the bourgeosie, the ownership class, who continues to trip over its own feet and dig its own grave. On International Workers’ Day, the working people of Saint Louis will resist, as they do every day. The struggle for Communism is being advanced in the struggle against these depredations and abuses and our parks, vacant buildings, and streets are trenches of combat which are being wrested from the enemy forces inch by inch.