MCU’s work is organized through intentional campaigns and committee work that support the mission of the organization.
Many MCU congregations conducted Sacred Conversations on Race (+Action) in 2015. Our congregations declared that the place to begin the most effective work addressing structural and systemic racism would be in the areas of education and policing. At the same time, leadership from Liberation Christian Church was identifying a third issue: juvenile court reform. Task forces were developed and a unifying theme emerged:
the school to prison pipeline. The teams began understanding just how this system is limiting prospects for and criminalizing the lives of young people of color.
Click on the pictures below for more information about a
Break the Pipeline Campaign or a Working Taskforce
On April 30, 2020 MCU will host Protecting Our People – Raising Our Voice, a virtual meeting acting on the impact COVID-19 has on our election, incarcerated youth and adults, and the census.
We, the families and friends of those incarcerated demand:
- Officers in the MDOC be screened for Covid-19 symptoms before each shift
- Protective equipment recommended by the CDC be issued to staff and citizens
- The Missouri Department of Health inspect all MDOC facilities for sanitation and safety protocol accountability
- Facilities with positive COVID-19 officers and citizens: full populations are tested
- Release all over the age of 50 and with underlying conditions to community care
- Release citizens eligible within 2 years for parole
- Release citizens denied parole from 2015-2017; they have completed the minimum sentences
- Physical visits are suspended, therefore provide virtual visitation capability for citizens
- Provide free phone calls as well as updated tablets that have been issued throughout department of corrections in most other states except Missouri
We are calling families and friends of those incarcerated in MO to:
Join to us to organize letters of release for each of our loved ones to the facilities where they are housed
Join us for weekly participatory defense meetings to work on actions to get our loved ones protected through release or changes to facility protocols.
We are calling for allies to contact state and local officials requesting the above demands:
The Missouri Department of Correction, Anne Precythe, Director; and Adam Albach, Legislative Liaison
Elected officials with prisons as part of their constituency
The parole board to continue hearing parole cases: Julie Kempker, Director and Steven Mueller, Board Operations Manager.
MCU is currently requesting assistance with conducting outreach to regional seniors about their general wellness and to remind them to fill out the census. (Public resources available anywhere are based on the number of people counted.)
Volunteers will need a phone (cell or landline) and an internet-connected device such as a computer, laptop, or tablet.
Those interested will receive online training and be asked to work at least two (2) two hour shifts.
We can all give some time in the next few weeks. Be a COMMUNITY AMBASSADOR!
Please email Jai@MCUStL.Com with your name, email, phone number, congregation, and hours available to volunteer.
Training is held every Monday at 6pm on Zoom. Get your invitation from Jai.
You can also self-train on a video HERE. After you complete this training. contact Jai to get started!
While we all learn to deal with a new, and hopefully temporary, normal during this time of COVID-19, the Census goes on. By now some of you have already received your census in the mail and the rest of you will soon. The US Census Bureau has suspended field operations until April 1 but that doesn’t stop the census. Our census work in our congregations goes on. MCU Organizer Jai Johnson gives us a great overview of the 2020 US Census, and why it’s so important that you fill yours out!:
So watch and share this video with anyone who needs some convincing! The Census is SOOO important to our communities!
Here’s what you can do:
- Use email, robocall, FaceBook, Twitter, your website, etc. and keep reminding people to fill out their census and return it by mail or go on line and fill it out.
- Check out these instructional videos produced by the US Census Bureau: 2020 Census Guide/English and Spanish and Why the Census Matters
- Get in touch with Jai Johnson about information drops in your congregation’s neighborhood (no contact) and phone-banking: Jai@mcustl.com or 314-320-3214
MCU, along with 18 other community organizations, has co-signed this open letter regarding the pending COVID-19 crisis and our concerns for specific marginalized groups. We are hopeful that our state and local leaders take the steps outlined in it for the vulnerable communities named in the letter.
March 13, 2020
- Governor Michael L. Parson
- St. Louis City Mayor Lyda Krewson
- St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page
- Board of Alderman President Lewis E. Reed
- St. Louis County Council Chairwoman Lisa Clancy
- St. Louis City Health Director Dr. Fred Echols
- St. Louis County Public Health Acting Director Dr. Spring Schmidt
- Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice George W. Draper III
- 21st Judicial Circuit Presiding Judge Michael D. Burton
- 22nd Judicial Circuit Presiding Judge Rex M. Burlison
- St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell
- St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner
Dear Local and State Leaders:
Like many of our fellow St. Louisans, we recognize the unique challenge posed by the rapid spread of the coronavirus COVID-19, which has now been designated a global pandemic. As organizations committed to justice and equity in our region, we are mindful in this moment that the most vulnerable among us are also those most at risk as this virus spreads. We are heartened that local officials have begun implementing precautionary measures in the interest of public health; however, we also know that in the absence of policies specifically designed to ensure the well-being of our most marginalized communities, such communities will suffer greatly. We do not all have the luxury of private spaces that we call home. Nor can we all comfortably avoid workplaces, state offices, or courts that demand appearance and payment. Too many in this region do not even have the privilege of freedom—they remain locked in cages, at once secluded and exposed. If our region is to effectively combat the spread of this virus, and truly prioritize the health of all its people, we must today adopt an approach that centers the needs of those who are otherwise likely to be most impacted. For this reason, local and state policymakers should implement a comprehensive set of policies targeted at the following populations most at risk of contracting this disease, and the institutions and practices that pose the greatest threat. Our shared safety and health depends upon it.
The immediate crisis of this pandemic has special ramifications for our national, ongoing crisis of those working, yet still living in poverty. By some estimates, almost half of Americans cannot follow the CDC recommendations for how to prepare or cope with COVID-19 because they simply do not have the resources to pre-pay for weeks’ worth of basic living expenses. The working poor are less likely to get tested for COVID-19 because of a lack of access to health insurance to make that test or treatment affordable. Many will not have access to paid sick leave. This not only creates an unacceptable heightened risk of families suffering; this puts us all in danger because of the likelihood of those who
work in the exact spaces where the disease is most likely to spread powering through their symptoms to avoid missing work. Even positive efforts to combat the spread of this pandemic such as canceling large events come with the consequence of many families already on the brink of poverty missing paychecks.
While widespread poverty requires structural reform, we call for the following immediate actions:
- Make COVID-19 testing and treatment free and available to all
- Impose immediate moratorium on eviction proceedings and foreclosure proceedings
- Impose immediate moratorium on utility shut-offs of any kind, including water, gas, sewer, and electricity, and restoration of utilities that have been shut off
- Provide government subsidies to increase short-term financial support, such as increasing available unemployment funds and support to area food banks
The region’s unhoused often lack basic shelter opportunities, may be staying in close quarters, do not have regular access to running water, and cannot self-quarantine if exposed to COVID-19. Many are under- or uninsured and lack access to adequate healthcare. Should quarantines and containment zones limit movement of the general public, the limited shelter options means the unhoused could experience an increased likelihood of contact with police officers. Since police are not adequately trained in public health diagnosis or protocols, these interactions could increase the exposure of police and, through them, others to the COVID-19 virus. Instead, public health workers should be tasked with finding adequate shelter and working with the unhoused to transport them there.
In order to reduce the risk of serious illness or death to the region’s unhoused and those who provide them with services, we call for the following immediate actions:
- Provide a separate location for the unhoused to convalesce or self-quarantine in individualized spaces with running water and heat during the outbreak
- Provide support so that emergency shelters can remain open 24 hours a day
- Provide 3 meals a day to people who are unhoused
- Provide 24 hour access to soap, hand sanitizer, water, showers, and restrooms for the unhoused
- Provide safe spaces for people with sensory processing disorders in quarantine areas
Police and Immigration Enforcement
Police officers interact with many residents on a daily basis, and they are afforded a great deal of discretion. They should use that discretion to minimize stops and arrests. The vast majority of police interactions involve non-emergency and non-violent circumstances, such as traffic stops and property crimes. Arresting people charged with these types of violations is unnecessary, since the prosecutor’s office can issue such charges without the person being in police custody. Further, arresting people for minor offenses puts police, jail personnel, and other arrestees at an increased risk of infection.
For many immigrant populations, the threat of immigration enforcement can be a strong disincentive from accessing public services and treatment. Immigrants are a vital and growing segment of our community, and the ongoing criminalization of undocumented status puts immigrant populations at heightened risk of infection.
In order to reduce the risk of serious illness or death to police officers, arrestees, and immigrant populations we call for the following actions:
- Abstain from arresting people for ordinance violations, misdemeanors, and non-violent felonies
- Provide appropriate protective gear to all police officers
- Ensure that those who are arrested for violent felonies are held in locations where they do not have to share toilets, soap, utensils, or bedding
- Ensure that all police vehicles are sanitized immediately after transporting an individual
- Release ICE detainees in local jails and state prisons
- Do not conduct immigration enforcement operations in or around emergency shelters, hospitals, or medical clinics
- Provide universal access to screenings and treatment, regardless of immigration status
- Ensure materials related to COVID-19 are accessible in multiple languages
On any given day, the circuit courts and municipal courts in the St. Louis region command the attendance of hundreds of parties, witnesses, attorneys, and court personnel from all over the region, irrespective of sickness or personal risk factors. Last week, in recognition of the spreading outbreak and the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation to “feasibly avoid bringing large groups of people together,” the Western District of Washington continued all in-person appearances pending further order of the court. Other courts in Washington State and courts in other states have begun to follow suit.
Now that COVID-19 has reached our region, in order to impede the spread of the pandemic and avoid the unnecessary exposure of those who are especially vulnerable, we call for presiding judges and public officials with power over court operations to institute the following measures:
- Immediately suspend the in-person operations of all circuit, associate circuit, and municipal court divisions except for those which are required to address orders of protection, confined individuals, and other exigent circumstances, with periodic reassessment as to whether normal operations can safely resume
- Cease issuing warrants and license suspensions for failure to appear
- Stay or abate the collection of all outstanding fines and costs
- Cancel all probation, parole, pretrial, and diversion court meetings; court-ordered classes; in-person drug testing; and modify all reporting conditions to phone-reporting
- Extend unlimited paid sick leave to all court employees and related personnel
Additionally, we call upon prosecuting attorneys at all levels to avoid actions that would unnecessarily bring individuals into courthouses, jails, and prisons, and to direct any failures to comply with local quarantine orders to the civil court system rather than the criminal court system.
Jails, Prisons, and Juvenile Detention Facilities
Jails, prisons, and juvenile detention facilities provide specific challenges due to the large numbers of people detained or working in those facilities. The introduction of new detainees, as well as the daily cycling in and out of employees, creates multiple entry points for infectious diseases like COVID-19. Combined with the close quarters, regular physical contact between guards and detainees, and the underlying chronic health conditions of many detained people, the potential for a rapid spread of the disease is exceptionally high.
In order to reduce the risk of serious illness or death in Missouri detention facilities, we call for the following actions:
- Release from jail of all those who have not been preventatively detained for posing a danger to the community or a flight risk; this includes all those held on cash bail and awaiting probation violation hearings or parole revocation proceedings
- Release from prison individuals who are particularly vulnerable–including people over 60, pregnant women, and immunocompromised persons–as well as those eligible for release or parole within the next two years
- Release all youth who are being held in juvenile detention facilities to the care of family and community
- Release all individuals held on technical parole violations (alleged or proven)
- Increase access to fresh air spaces with safe social distancing for all detained populations
- Provide soap, running water, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies for all those who remain in detention facilities, at no cost to the individual
- In the absence of facility visits, all phone calls, emails, and other forms of contact with loved ones should be made available to those who are detained at no cost
- Provide appropriate protective gear to all facility personnel
- Implement regular and ongoing testing of all personnel
- Ensure medical programs are fully staffed to test and treat detainees and all those being released
People with Disabilities and Systemic Health Needs
Over one million people, 29.1% of Missourians, have a disability. Despite being close to one-third of the population, the disabled community is often forgotten and ignored by the national and global conscience. The truth is that disability is the most fluid protected class and, even without the COVID-19 pandemic, it is probable that you or a loved one will experience disability within your lifetime. Without steady income and the benefit of employer-funded insurance, the poverty rate for people with disabilities is two and a half times higher than their nondisabled peers and the quality of care received is based on limited government-funding.
As COVID-19 intrudes into our communities, it is absolutely essential to consider disability to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our global community. The fruits of our ignorance will be exposed unless we ensure adequate healthcare for all. We must take the following steps to survive this immediate crisis:
- Train direct service staff to identify COVID-19 symptoms and quarantine procedures
- When possible, provide care and treatment in the smallest setting possible
- Administer COVID-19 testing and, if necessary, treatment to all residents in high risk areas, such as nursing homes, community care centers, and psychiatric wards
- Ensure all quarantine areas are accessible and compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act
- Ensure materials related to COVID-19 are in accessible formats and sign language interpreters are available
In recognition of our shared humanity, we urge you to take the above steps without delay.
- ArchCity Defenders
- Action St. Louis
- St. Louis University Civil Litigation Clinic
- Missouri State Public Defender System
- Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center
- Close the Workhouse Campaign
- Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression
- Organization for Black Struggle
- Youth Council for Positive Development
- Grassroots Accountability Movement
- Metropolitan Congregations United
- MICA Project
- ACLU of Missouri
- The Bail Project – St. Louis
- Dutchtown South Community Corporation
- Deaconess Foundation
- Forward Through Ferguson
Call your State Legislators:
- Go to: Legislator Lookup to find your state senator and your state representative.
- Tell them: “I am one of the 62% who voted to clean up Missouri politics with Amendment 1 and raise the minimum wage with Prop B. I knew what I was voting for. Do not steal my vote!”
The Missouri State Legislature is stealing your vote – don’t let them get away with this! 62% of voters in Missouri voted to change the way we do politics in Missouri. We voted to:
- end gerrymandering
- severely limit lobbyists’ gifts
- have more transparency
- hire a demographer to draw the district lines and not leave it up to the politicians
- get the big money out of campaigns
WE VOTED FOR and PASSED Amendment 1/CLEAN…NOW there are members of the state senate trying to overturn your vote. While Rep Dean Plocher(Des Peres) says: We’re not overturning the will of the people,” the actions of the Missouri Senate are exactly that.
All of them eliminate the demographer that would have replaced the very partisan method of district creation, hide the data used to create districts, and more. These bills in effect would make it seem like Amendment 1 never existed before it even has a chance to work.
62% of voters in Missouri voted to raise the minimum wage. We voted to raise the wage to by 85 cents every year until we get to $12 by 2023.
Now the Missouri Legislation wants to carve some people out, like those working in private/parochial schools.
Read Rep. Remole’s bill HB1559
62% of the people voted FOR the changes outlined in CLEAN/Amendment 1 and Prop B/Raise Up Missouri(the minimum wage). YOU talked to people to make sure they understood what was at stake and what they were voting for. YOU worked for change and now they want to hold to a status quo that only works for a select group and not the common good.
CALL YOUR SENATOR AND REPRESENTATIVE TODAY!!
Tuesday, December 3 is Giving Tuesday, and here are five reasons to invest in MCU. Please consider including Metropolitan Congregations United in your seasonal giving. Either through a one-time contribution or continued giving as a Sustainer, you’ll know that your financial support will always go directly to transforming our community to help those most impacted.
MCU congregations are changing the narrative of black youth and families who are court involved. Our 2019 Public Meeting, When
They #SeeUsSTL, offers the opportunity to hold public officials accountable on three initiatives:
- Raise the Age Now Join the coalition to give this recently-passed law
keeping 17-year-olds out of adult prisons in 2021 an on-time start.
- Restore the St. Louis City Mayor’s Office Commission on Children,
Youth, and Families and hire a Commissioner of Youth Services; and
- Unlock the Vote MO, which restores voting rights to 90,000 Missouri
voters immediately upon their release from prison, and truly expunges juvenile records.
Join us on Sunday, November 3 from 3-4:30pm at Vashon High School, 3035 Cass Ave., St. Louis, MO 63106 (Google Maps link: https://goo.gl/maps/7cr8dHjeBcsXoFiN7)
Let us know you’re coming via EventBrite at https://bit.ly/2nMsFOy
Invite all your local friends, family, and organizations via the EventBrite link (https://bit.ly/2nMsFOy) and Facebook event (https://www.facebook.com/events/2410965682505466/), and make sure to share the Facebook event widely: on your own Facebook page, on any Facebook pages you manage, and any groups you’re in! If you are part of a congregation or organization, contact us for a toolkit to get the word out!
For more information, contact MCU at 314-367-3484 or email@example.com #SeeUsSTL
See you at Vashon High on Nov 3!
Thursday, August 29, 4:00pm at City Hall, 1200 Market Street
This event is open to all, please share. This is not a trivial or symbolic issue. Our communities are crying out for freedom and resources. The Workhouse steals both. The money we are spending on the Workhouse to disastrous effect can be used to fully fund effective violence prevention programs like Cure Violence; to help establish community health, education, and employment centers; to fund youth programs; to support community-based pretrial services, and much, much more.
Facebook Event Here
We are excited to announce the official statewide launch of Missouri’s Medicaid Expansion 2020 Campaign this Labor Day weekend (Friday 8/30-Monday 9/2)! YOU can be a part of this movement as we work to bring healthcare services to over 200,000 MO residents.
To get ready, come to the Volunteer Training on Monday, August 26, 6:30 pm at Peace United Church of Christ, 204 E. Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves, MO 63119.
Volunteer Roles and Skills Needed:
- Signature Gatherers for Community Events
- Signature Gatherers for Congregational Services/Events
- Phone Recruiters
- Social Media Outreach
- Data Entry
Our goal is to get MCU members boots-on-the ground at a variety of Labor Day weekend events with the final roster of events to be determined at the 8/26 training. We also invite all of our member congregations and organizations to host a signature gathering event after their usual services / congregational events. Supplies and support are available for those congregations committing to this effort.