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
Many of you worked hard to collect petition signatures to get Medicaid Expansion on the ballot – thanks for your efforts. We’re urging you to not let the petition efforts be for naught – please join us in the Get Out the Vote opportunities listed below as we work to complete a successful campaign to bring Medicaid Expansion to Missouri.
The July 23 Rally gives us an opportunity to join with volunteers from around Missouri who are working to ensure the success of Yes on 2. Since we can’t do the usual door-to-door canvassing during the pandemic, phone and text banking from your home are the best ways for us to reach large numbers of voters before Aug 4. As you will learn when you sign up for phone or text banking (details below), training is provided (no experience necessary). Please remember that the previous MCU phone banking efforts end July 23, when we switch to the centralized scheduling below. You have many choices for how to spend your time – please join us in this vital push to ensure that Amendment 2 is approved by voters!
***When registering, please use HEARTLAND ACTION as the organization when asked for tracking purposes.***
Upcoming GOTV Actions
Virtual Medicaid Expansion Rally
(Thursday, July 23, 2020 @ 6pm): http://bit.ly/RallyYesOn2
Phone Banking Shifts
Saturday, July 25th and ending Monday, August 3rd; each shift includes training.
For Morning Shifts (10:30am – 1:30pm):
For Afternoon Shifts (2:00pm – 5:00pm):
For Evening Shifts (5:30am – 8:30pm):
Text Banking Training and Shifts
Saturday, July 25th and ending Tuesday, August 4th:
Various Times: https://www.mobilize.us/moveaction/event/287019
Please contact your friends and neighbors again before the election to remind them of Yes on 2. Also, place a reminder in your church newsletter.
Training is happening NOW to get folks informed on Amendment 2/Medicaid Expansion. Healthcare is a right that should not be denied to anyone. Let’s get our community informed and Voting!!
Phone bank training – Please sign up for one of the 3 training sessions below using the sign up link for each. Those who’ve already registered for the canceled 7/6 training do not need to re-register for the 7/13 session, but you will need to re-register if you will attend another session. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email about joining the meeting.
Session 1 – 7/13 @ 6pm
Session 2 – 7/14 @ 10am
Session 3 – 7/15 @ 3pm
Text bank training – Please email Aysha Gray to learn about training (Aysha.email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; please use both emails). If you contacted Aysha previously, you do not need to do it again.
Metropolitan Congregations United (MCU) EX-incarcerated People Organizing-MO (EXPO-MO) and Campaign for Youth Justice (TCYJ) are staging a protest parade on May 8, at 5pm at the Division of Youth Service’s Hogan St. Center, 1839 Hogan St., St. Louis 63106. To RSVP text #freeouryouth to 31996
The protest is a call during this unprecedented health crisis to release incarcerated children and adults and to protect them from the spread of COVID-19. Research tells us that incarcerated populations are at extreme risk. There have been releases from local jails; we are calling for releases from detention centers and prisons.
“We are protesting the inaction of the Missouri Division of Youth Services (DYS) officials,” said LaTrisha Gandy, MCU’s Parent organizer. “Their inaction is endangering the lives of our community’s youth being held in these facilities.” “We are asking the Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC) to treat our loved ones like humans”, says Maria Miller a leader in EXPO-MO. We are asking the Division of Youth Services and the Department of Corrections to be accountable to the community.
Youth in DYS will be returned to the community by their 18th birthdays; most are held for an average of 12 –18 months. Let’s take this opportunity to build community-based resources and supports needed for these youth at home where the data shows they are more likely to thrive and succeed. On March 23 MCU sent a letter to the Department of Youth Services concerning the youth who tested positive for Covid-19 at the Hogan St. Specific release recommendations are included in the letter to DYS officials and found at MCUStlouis.org . To date there has been no official response from DYS; they refuse to release any children in light of this public health emergency.
Metropolitan Congregations United is a community organization of 40 congregations that puts faith into action by developing leaders who move their congregations, organizations and communities to change public policy for the common good.
EX-incarcerated People Organizing-MO works to end mass incarceration, eliminate all forms of structural discrimination against formerly incarcerated people, and restore formerly incarcerated people to full participation in the life of our communities.
The Campaign for Youth Justice is a national initiative focused entirely on ending the practice of prosecuting, sentencing and incarcerating youth under the age of 18 in the adult criminal justice system.
Even with social distancing still in place, there’s still plenty going on. The people and institutions who make big decisions that affect us all are still active and are not always making decisions in our best interests, so we must be active too! Our virtual assembly, Protecting Our Community, Lifting Our Voice gave us a rundown of what’s going on and how we can respond together. Watch the whole assembly here if you missed it, and see below for what you can do to respond in powerful, community-affirming ways!
Testimonies from impacted people on April 30 make it clear: we need to act now! Here’s how you can act:
Youth: Join the May 8 protest/support car parade. We’ll drive by the Youth Services Center on Hogan St. Our youth need to know we see them and we support them. Families need to know the community believes their children should be home during this pandemic, especially if they are sick. Youth service officials will know: we expect action for the lives of our young people. Get all the details HERE
Elections: All those petitions signatures you collected to get CLEAN/Amendment 1 on the ballot are being threatened by the Missouri Legislature! They are trying to pass bills that would make gerrymandering the law of the land. Join us for actions to preserve all the work we did. Also, we need to make sure people know what’s on the ballots in upcoming elections and that people turn out to vote, in person or absentee. Details HERE
Census: It’s still on! We are still reminding to fill out either their paper form and mail it in or go online and fill out their information. The census is how federal and state officials decide how much funding actually needs to go into an area for senior services, youth services, school lunch programs, road work, first responder support: everything our taxes support. Here’s how to do your part: HERE
Outreach to Senior Citizens: Our primary census work has become our Community Ambassadors. We are phone banking and calling seniors to listen and make sure they know help is out there if they need it. We will provide resource numbers to folks who need them. Find out more HERE
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!
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.