Week of November 11, 2004

I did wish that an article had been printed about the courageous females that bared all for peace. Never mind the bollocks, this is freedom of the breasts -- I mean press!

Keep up the good work!
Kelly Parks
University City

Sad panda: I loved reading all the letters from readers who regard the human body as beautiful in all shapes and sizes. I read the RFT online every week (I moved to Florida three months ago from south city, St. Louis).

How could that cover possibly have been a mistake? Whoever sent that copy to print knew what they were doing and why. Don't try to cover it up and say it was a mistake. I've always loved reading the RFT because of your no-nonsense, edgy angles and a look into a different side of St Louis. Don't apologize! Stand up! Don't be such pussies! You had the perfect opportunity to stand up for your right as a newspaper and your freedoms. Instead you dropped down into fetal position and cowered to the powers that be. That makes me a sad panda.

And as for those who complained: Suck it up. You have the right as an American citizen to not look at it if you don't like it. It's not like you spent any money on the paper!
Courtney Ringle
St. Augustine, Florida

Plan of Attack
Panic mode: After reading "Extreme Makeover," Randall Roberts' October 13 story about Rollin Stanley and the obstacles he's up against in achieving his vision for St. Louis, I felt the classic symptoms of anxiety. My stomach was twisted and fluttering, my chest was tight and my heart felt swollen and fast-paced.

It may all sound very dramatic, but I have great hopes for this city. The thought of being so close to achieving greatness, with the assistance of someone as talented as Mr. Stanley, only to never attain that status is a fear I have for St. Louis. My husband and I have lived in many major cities, including Washington, D.C., and New York. We came to St. Louis so my husband could pursue graduate studies at Washington University. We fell in love with the city for its cultural diversity, accessibility, charm and that glorious Arch, to name a few reasons. However, we also fell in love with the promise the city holds for becoming even greater. It thrills me to learn of projects that will improve and advance this city to the level it is capable of providing its residents and visitors.

Stanley is an integral factor to seeing this happen. He is providing us with our chance to achieve greatness. Those who want to see this city come alive and thrive must rally around this man and do all we can to get him the support he needs. The anxiety I experience comes from the fear that he will become discouraged with his inability to make progress, thus forcing him to leave, and our opportunity will be lost. We are like shipwrecked castaways, and he is our one flare to beckon that passing liner. We must not let this man go unnoticed and unappreciated.
Stephanie Porrello
St. Louis

Where's the Magic?
It's the brutality, stupid: Mike Seely's "No-Look Pass" [October 6] questions the judgment of urging Magic Johnson to avoid, for the time being, investments in St. Louis. Of course, economic investment in north city seems to be a win-win situation, but only if you don't factor in the losers.

Seely spends no time looking at the police misconduct which lies behind the dispute. This city's police have recently been found to arrest the homeless with no probable cause; the department has declared that officers who slashed innocent people's bike tires had committed no crime; internal affairs routinely refuses to respond to complaints; the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression is overwhelmed with requests for assistance in dealing with everything from simple harassment to outright violence by police.

As a constructive response to this situation, the coalition originally authored and has campaigned for a modest reform -- the creation of a Civilian Oversight Board to hold police accountable. Seely devotes only one paragraph to that subject, merely repeating Mayor Francis Slay's public-relations statements as fact. There are vast differences between our proposal and the mayor's, which, for example, gives the board power to make disciplinary recommendations only after the discipline has been determined! Like Starsky Wilson, we prefer "mediation and moderation," but the mayor refused to include us in federal mediation, despite hundreds of endorsements and requests from citizens and community groups that we be allowed to represent their interests. Nor was the mayor moderate when he rushed his ineffective proposal through the Police Commission, consulting no one and outraging leadership of all stripes.

We did not ask Magic Johnson never to invest in St. Louis, or even to wait until police brutality or racism has ended. We simply asked that he wait until the passage of an effective oversight board. Like union strikes which forgo short-term economic gain for long-term benefit, this strategy is in a long and not outlandish tradition. Not one person from groups affected by police violence has said to us that he would prefer continued victimization to our economic boycott. We hope that both will end soon.
John Chasnoff, member
Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression
University City

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