Oh, shit. Mayor Francis G. Slay looks pissed. He came all the way up to this town hall meeting at Mount Airy Missionary Baptist Church in the Fourth Ward of north St. Louis to talk about the benefits of city-county unification. And the host, State Representative Jamilah Nasheed — a fellow Democrat! — has the nerve to ambush him.

"Uh, Mayor, lemme just pose one question to you," she has just said. "And this is something that we need to have a little dialogue going..."

She wasn't supposed to ask anything like this.

State Representative Jamilah Nasheed: I'm 
black before I'm a Democrat.
Jennifer Silverberg
State Representative Jamilah Nasheed: I'm black before I'm a Democrat.
State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal is one of many Democrats who question Nasheed's loyalty to the party.
Jennifer Silverberg
State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal is one of many Democrats who question Nasheed's loyalty to the party.
Will Francis Slay be the first St. Louis mayor in 150 years to bring police control back to city hall?
Jennifer Silverberg
Will Francis Slay be the first St. Louis mayor in 150 years to bring police control back to city hall?
"With each passing day [local control] looks more and more likely," says Jeff Roorda, who was in charge of protecting police officers' benefits in local-control negotiations.
Jennifer Silverberg
"With each passing day [local control] looks more and more likely," says Jeff Roorda, who was in charge of protecting police officers' benefits in local-control negotiations.

"We have a major issue in the city of St. Louis with race relations, and I would like for you to touch on that," she continued. "What can we do, as elected officials, community organizations as a whole, to try to bridge that racial gap here in the city?"

Slay's lips purse, his eyes tighten, and he shifts his weight as she asks the question. But he jumps right in with the answer.

"I think we need to stand up," he asserts into the microphone. "All of us need to stand up. One of the things I found in the city of St. Louis, you know, one of the things about the city of St. Louis is it is one of the most — on a block-by-block basis — one of the most integrated cities in America. One of the most integrated cities in America on a block-by-block basis."

There are murmurs in the crowd, which is almost all black. Dozens of constituents furrow their brows and whisper to each other. Sitting in the front row, leaning back with her right arm on the pew, Nasheed is grinning with her chin up.

"We certainly have our segregated areas," the mayor says. "There are certain areas that are certainly almost exclusively African American. But very few exclusively black neighborhoods in the city anymore. The point is, overall, the city is more integrated than the vast majority of cities — of major cities— in America. We live in one of the most integrated cities in America."

"Uh-uhhnnn. Not on my block!" shouts a white-haired woman.

"Where do you live?" a woman in a blue shirt mutters under her breath.

The mayor keeps talking. He says something about how lots of immigrants and gays live in St. Louis. And something about economic empowerment for the black community. And then something about how the county doesn't have enough racial discourse. But the murmuring is growing louder and distracting many listeners.

"So I think that we should be proud of ourselves," the mayor concludes. "But I don't think we should lose sight of the fact that as a community we've made a lot of strides together. And by working together we can make it work."

Nasheed stands up and struts to the side of Mayor Slay. She turns on a high heel and faces the audience.

"We're gonna take a couple of questions from the mayor now," she says with a proud smile.

This is why so many Democrats don't like Jamilah Nasheed. This irreverence. This unpredictability. This...cockiness. From a third-term state rep! Who the hell does she think she is putting the mayor on the spot like this? Who the hell does she think she is voting with Republicans on those bills? Who the hell does she think she is trying to get local control passed?

Who the hell does Jamilah Nasheed think she is?

Jamilah Nasheed knows that just about half of the politicians in her own party don't like her. They almost kicked her out of the caucus back in April. But she doesn't care. She may be a former gang member with no college degree, but she's also becoming one of the most powerful Democrats in Missouri.

After the mayor leaves, it's Nasheed's turn to speak.

"How many of you are familiar with local control of the St. Louis police department?" she asks.

Six or seven hands raise.

"Well, I'm the sponsor of that bill," she says. "For over 150 years we haven't had control of our police department."


The crowd responds to her like she's a preacher giving a sermon.

"We spend two-thirds of our budget on it, but we don't control the department."

Uh-huh. That's right...

Nasheed, who is 38, has a round face with parenthetical cheekbones and a prominent forehead. Her thin black glasses and gray pantsuit give her the air of a high school principal. But her unapologetic swagger betrays her days as an activist for minority rights.

"What I wanted to do is bring local control back home, because if we bring local control back home, police officers are held accountable. They know that the state controls them. That's why they don't respond to you. Because you can't do nothing about it."

OK. OK...

She speaks with sureness and soul, slowing and speeding and stopping her cadence, bounding between octaves. She describes the political process simply and dramatically, like a mother telling her child a bedtime story, methodically eee-nun-ceee-ating some words and rhyming some phrases. She paces up and down the center aisle so she can look each constituent in the eye.

She tells the audience how she got the local-control bill passed out of the Missouri House of Representatives for the first time in 150 years. She tells them how it never reached the Senate floor because it was "held hostage" by outstate senators with no stake in the issue who demanded tax reform. She tells them that the battle's not over yet and that the bill will pass if it's brought up in the special session in September. But she doesn't tell them that she cried that night in May when the bill died.

No, now is not the time to show weakness. These are her people, and she is their leader, fighting for them in Jefferson City against the overwhelming forces — Democrat and Republican — trying to keep their bootstraps buried in concrete.

The people trust her because they know she is one of them. She hustled and brawled and scrapped through the projects, got locked up in juvenile hall for stabbing somebody, dropped out of high school and then somehow reached political office, where she is now working to steer her people's daughters and nephews and grandkids away from the life she escaped.

So now she hustles and brawls and scraps through Jefferson City. She represents the most dangerous district in the most dangerous city in America, a district that is liberal and black in a state that leans conservative and white. Her loyalties lie only with those who can help her improve the 60th District, no matter what side of the ideological spectrum they fall on. She votes against party lines, calls the Republican Speaker of the House Steven Tilley one of her good friends and says things like, "I'm black before I'm a Democrat."

She's an outlier in American politics. In an era when partisan divides define the discourse, she is an ex-activist liberal black Muslim female who has built enough relationships across the aisle to pass the most improbable bill in Missouri history through a GOP-heavy House.

Her constituents have her back. She ran unopposed in her last reelection primary and took 75 percent of the vote two years before that. She explains to the audience how she voted against the Democrats in the U.S. Congress redistricting debate. How she was willing to let the Democrats lose a seat to ensure that Congressman William "Lacy" Clay Jr., who is black, keeps his.

"And after I did that, guess what? The progressive Democrats said, 'We're kicking you out of the caucus!'"

Oh no. Uh-uhhnnn...

"'We are taking your committeeships—'"

She pauses and nods as she sees Alderman Sam Moore in the front row pointing to his watch.

"Sam says wrap it up," she says. "Are y'all tired of listening to me?"

No ma'am...

There is a serious standing order from Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal to her staff: Call the police if Jamilah Nasheed ever enters the office.

"She has a different background than I do — less-civilized, I guess," Chappelle-Nadal says, before catching herself and rephrasing. "We have two different backgrounds. One is a little bit more cordial. And one is a little bit more street and aggressive."

Of all the Democrats who have beef with Nasheed, Chappelle-Nadal is surely the outspoken leader of the pack. She sits impeccably postured at Meshuggah Café in University City, which lies in her district. She's happy to explain why the Democrats have a problem with Nasheed.

"She confronts everyone," she calmly says, hands folded on the table. "This is her m.o. and that's how she tries to get things done. She tries to jump on people. It doesn't belong in the political process."

The women have a history. In 1998 Nasheed worked on Chappelle-Nadal's campaign. But once Nasheed got into office and started voting with the Republicans, their relationship disintegrated. It got so bad that, when the two ran into each other at a Lil Wayne concert in April, they exchanged verbal jabs. Nasheed claims (and tweeted) Chappelle-Nadal threatened to stab her, which Chappelle-Nadal denies. Nasheed calls Chappelle-Nadal "mentally unstable," which Chapelle-Nadal also denies. Tensions between the two have been particularly high since Chappelle-Nadal took a public and passionate stand against Nasheed's local-control bill, arguing that it didn't protect police officers' rights.

But to Chappelle-Nadal, Nasheed's gravest sin is "her alliance with the Republican party." She perks up as she prepares to list all those times Nasheed voted against the Democrats.

"It's just a preponderance of stuff," she says. "It's a whole bunch of stuff. Let me call Ron Casey real quick."

She picks up her Blackberry and scrolls through the address book, searching for state Representative Casey's number.

"So she's effective in the sense that she gets stuff done with the Republicans," she says, pulling the phone to her ear. "She'll say, 'Because I'm getting stuff for my people.' Her district is one of the poorest. I'm not too sure how much she's gotten...

"Hey, Ron, how are you?" she says. "I'm good, I'm good.... We're talking about Jamilah, your favorite person.... So tell me, I'm trying to remember all of the bad votes she's taken over the years.... OK, hold on, let me put you on speaker phone, hold on..."

She lays the Blackberry on the table.

"What else has she voted for in the past?" she asks, louder than usual as she leans toward the phone.

"You know what, the list is endless," responds Casey, his voice crackling over the line. "Her allegiance to — I mean, I really think that it's more to the Republicans than it is to us."

Nasheed started biting at the Democratic party her first year in office. In 2007 she was the only elected official to publicly support a recall of Mayor Slay, after he demoted the first black fire chief in St. Louis history.

A few months later she looked to pass her first piece of legislation, a bill to make students in the city's unaccredited school district eligible for the state-funded A+ Scholarship Program. It passed the House easily but was kicked back for another vote after the Senate added a provision that allowed the scholarships to be used at Ranken Technical College, a private vocational school. The teachers union protested what they saw as a "voucher bill," the Democrats voted with them, and the bill failed. Nasheed couldn't believe it. Her party had turned against her bill, turned against her.

But it was still early in the day. Using an obscure procedural rule, she had a chance to bring the bill back to the floor. She just needed to get the votes first.

So she called a friend, a lobbyist for Anheuser-Busch who had some pull with the GOP. The lobbyist made a few phone calls. Then the bill was voted on again. It needed 82 votes and passed with 90, with Republicans filling the holes left by the Democrats. But Nasheed was still pissed. She vowed to get back at the Democrats by voting against them on whatever bill was next on the agenda, which happened to be a controversial proposal to repeal limits on campaign contributions.

"It got to 81 votes, and there was a long pause, because they weren't able to get that 82," Nasheed says. "I said, 'Bam!' and pushed 82, and the Democrats go, 'Noooo!' I mean, it was just like a roar. 'No, Jamilah! Nooo! Don't do it! Don't do it! Don't do it!' And the majority leader was like, 'Change that! Change it!' I was like, 'Where were you guys when I needed you just a second ago?' That's when all hell broke loose with me and the Democrats. It hasn't been the same since."

Rumors swirled that Nasheed traded her vote on the campaign-limits bill for Republican support on the scholarship bill. She denies that this was the case.

"I swear to God no one came to me. I didn't cut any deals," she says. "At that point I was just mad."

The rumors, though, have never quite subsided. In April, the St. Louis American reported that anonymous Democrats accused Nasheed of giving Republicans votes in exchange for being named chair of the Urban Affairs Committee (which Tilley calls untrue and absurd). The American noted, "It is no secret that Nasheed... has been making deals with Republicans."

Her critics note that, while the vast majority of her votes align with Democrats, Nasheed went against party lines on three high-profile bills. She was one of fourteen Democrats to vote for a bill restricting abortions after twenty weeks (she is pro-life), one of eight Democrats to vote for a compromise on puppy-mill regulations and one of four Democrats to vote for the Republican-sponsored redistricting bill that would eliminate the seat of Democrat congressman Russ Carnahan.

The latter stirred the most trouble. Nasheed and three other members of the Black Caucus said that they were willing to lose a Democratic seat so long as they could protect Clay's seat. Nasheed famously reasoned, "I'm black before I'm a Democrat." Democratic leadership considered kicking them out of the party's caucus, but the membership voted it down.

Meanwhile, her ties with Republicans have been useful considering they hold a two-thirds majority in the state House and a three-fourths majority in the state Senate. In addition to the scholarships, she was able to secure more than $1 million in state funding for a dropout recovery program and a science and math tutoring center. And when local control reached the floor, her GOP colleagues across the aisle went to bat for her.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is run by the five-member Board of Police Commissioners. One member is the mayor. The other four are citizens appointed by the governor. While the city determines the department's budget, the police commissioners decide how the money gets doled out — from what new strategies should be enforced to who gets laid off.

Which is a problem for the man in Room 200 of St. Louis City Hall.

"If the citizens have a problem with the department, if something goes wrong, people call the mayor," says Mayor Slay. "And that's the way it should be. That's the way it is everywhere else. But I'm one of five members on a police board, and, in many cases where it counts, the mayor will get outvoted."

Slay describes one time when a board member (whom he wouldn't name) held the city's public safety hostage in order to squeeze more money from the budget for the department.

"He said, 'If you don't give us the money we want, then we'll just reduce the number on the police department, give everybody a pay raise, and when crime goes up, we're gonna blame you,'" says Slay, as one shiny black shoe taps the plush red carpet.

So Mayor Slay has a lot riding on local control. He's been pushing for it for five years now. This is one of those issues you put at the top of the political résumé: "First mayor in St. Louis history to regain control of city's police department." Looks good in ink.

Slay is a jowly but lean man with Irish eyes, a friar bald spot and an innately amiable demeanor. He walks a thin rhetorical line as he rallies for local control: He must convince people that the structure of the police department needs to be changed, without insinuating that the officers are doing a piss-poor job or that there is a crime problem in St. Louis.

To those who say the system is effective the way it is, Slay counters by asking: If state control works so well, why doesn't any city outside Missouri do it?

To those who argue that local control would politicize the department, Slay counters that the department is already politicized. He points to that time in February 2010 when commissioner Vincent Bommarito used his post to try to get his nephew off the hook for a DUI. Then he mentions the time commissioner Todd Epstein, appointed by Governor Matt Blunt, was unseated as board president when two new members, appointed by Governor Jay Nixon, voted to replace him with another Nixon appointment.

And the city of St. Louis hasn't been able to do anything about it. Instead, the fate of a local-control bill lies with a bunch of outstate, rural legislators with no stake in the matter. That's why Slay's legs are restless as he sits in his high-ceilinged, mahogany-doored office.

"When I went up to Jeff City to ask for this originally," he says, "it was kind of funny how this was received. Like this was gonna be something different and scary. When all we were asking for is what virtually every other city in America has."

There's a myth that state control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department came out of the Civil War, that segregationist governor Claiborne Jackson took the reins of the department because St. Louis was a Union city and he wanted to control its massive arsenal.

But that story is only half-true, notes Allen Wagner, who wrote Good Order and Safety: A History of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, 1861-1906. While Jackson did use state control to advance the Confederate cause, state control wasn't his idea.

The first bill proposing state control was filed in 1859 by a state senator from St. Louis named Charles Drake. At the time, state- controlled police departments were popular in big cities across America. New York started the trend in 1857, and soon Philadelphia, Boston, Cincinnati, Chicago, Baltimore and San Francisco all followed. But Drake's bill never got out of committee.

A year later, Erastus Wells, a St. Louis alderman, took a cross-country trip and asked the mayors he met a simple question: Who has the best police department? Told the Baltimore Police Department, he drafted a bill to build the St. Louis police department in Baltimore's image and handed it to the legislators in Jefferson City. The bill passed in March 1861.

The power struggle between Mayor James Thomas and the commissioners began almost immediately after the Civil War. By 1867, Thomas was so frustrated that he stopped showing up at board meetings. When his term ended in 1869, Thomas declared that the city should control its own police department.

"And that was the first time anybody tried to bring local control back to St. Louis," says Wagner.

Over the next 150 years, New York, Chicago and all those other big cities returned police control to city hall. The fad had passed. Since Baltimore made the change in 1962, St. Louis has been the only city in America yet to switch back.(The only outlier, Kansas City, was granted local control in 1932 then voted in 1979 to switch back to state control, where it remains.)

St. Louis never got close. Before last year, a local-control bill had never even passed out of committee.

Slay blames the union representing officers, the St. Louis Police Officers Association, which had always been against local control.

"And then," he adds, "you've got a lot of disinterested individuals throughout the entire state of Missouri who basically didn't want to get in the middle of a fight with the cops."

The union had its reasons.

"Our big concern," says business manager Jeff Roorda, "was always that the things we fought so hard for — our benefits, our labor rights, our rights with respect to appealing discipline — that those things we've fought for so long and so hard were protected."

The city charter provides ordinances in the event that St. Louis regains police control. But because they were written almost 100 years ago, they're well below today's standards: There's no mention of benefits for widows and children of those killed in action nor financial assistance for those who pursue further education. The police union worried that if control returns to the city, they could lose some benefits.

Over the years there's been the block of outstate legislators who back the police no matter what and the block of outstate legislators who don't want to risk political capital by getting involved. The status quo has persisted.

This is the Fourth Ward. It's pretty bad around here," says Nasheed, as she navigates her off-white Ford SUV through empty streets in the middle of the day.

"Oh, look at that," she says matter-of-factly, glaring out her driver's side window at a crumbling three-story house with an entire side wall missing, exposing its interior like a dollhouse.

The whole block is decaying: graffitied boards on shattered windows. Weeds rising over and blanketing stoops. Vacant corner stores. Piles of brick and shards of wood decorating empty lots.

She crosses into the 21st Ward and turns onto Vandeventer Avenue. She slows down as she passes a row of abandoned buildings that look like they used to be apartments.

"This is an important block of mine," she says softly. "That door right there, that's the door my mom came out of after she committed suicide. That door right there..."

That door right there is where Jamilah Nasheed lived back when her name was Jenise Williams and everybody called her Niecy.

She didn't learn about her mom until she was seven and noticed that all her friends said "mom" while she said "grandma." So her grandmother explained the difference between "mom" and "grandma" and then explained that her mom killed herself when Nasheed was two. That's also when she learned about her dad. Less than a week after coming home from the Vietnam War, and a few months before Nasheed was born, her dad was killed in a drive-by shooting while he played craps outside the Pruitt-Igoe housing project.

So Nasheed and her three brothers were raised by their grandmother in the Darst-Webbe project. The four of them lived off $500 of government assistance every month. The budget shrunk as the days passed. By midmonth, the family often subsisted on cheese bread and sugar bread.

To get a little cash in their pockets, Lil' Niecy and her brothers shined shoes. She used the money to buy candy wholesale. Then she'd set up shop at the bottom floor of her apartment and sell whatever she didn't eat, making a solid profit each day before the neighborhood boys would run up and steal as many sweets as they could fit in their pockets.

She spent most of her free time with her twin brother, Jahid. They were inseparable. A couple of low-level hoodlums, they threw rocks at windows and picked fights, which they always won.

"They were the baddest kids in the projects," says Nasheed's older brother, Jason Williams.

After a few years she graduated from Now and Laters and penny cookies to weed and crack and heroin. It was the mid-'80s, and north St. Louis was a drug boomtown.

"That was part of the project life," she says. "Materialism was very high, and it influenced a lot of us. And we wanted it, and we couldn't get it. And our parents couldn't get it."

So Lil' Niecy — rockin' gold teeth, gold rings, bright silk shirt and Jheri curl — slanged her product. She carried a gun before reaching her teens.

Nobody messed with Lil' Niecy.

"She was a fighter," says Williams. "She was a good fighter. All the boys were scared to fight her 'cause she would beat them up."

When she was thirteen, she started a gang with a dozen or so friends. They were called "El Control," and they wore matching white-and-blue T-shirts whenever they went out together, roaming the neighborhood and sneaking into nightclubs. If a rival gang from another building — and it always seemed to be the girls from the Peabody houses — stepped onto their turf, they rumbled. Usually Lil' Niecy busted girls' faces with brass knuckles. But one time she stabbed a girl in the chest and spent a week in juvenile detention.

She got in so many fights that Darst-Webbe's manager kicked her out of the complex and banned her from the grounds. (The family moved to another apartment a few blocks away.) She dropped out of school in tenth grade, after her guidance counselor told her that she was so far behind that she had no chance to graduate. A year later, Jahid was convicted on conspiracy to commit murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Nasheed was devastated.

"The environment sucked him up, and he wasn't able to get out of it," she says. "A lot of guys that I grew up with, they didn't make it through. A lot of them became drug addicts or ended up jailed. Many of them were murdered."

She found herself reflecting on her life, searching for meaning.

"I didn't believe in God," she says. "I felt that, if there was a God, then why am I living in these conditions? Or why did he take my mother? Why did he take my father?"

So she channeled her anguish toward books and spent her days at Progressive Emporium, a local bookstore. She met activists, discussed current events and read Na'im Akbar and Malcolm X. Raised Baptist, she started going to the mosque. When she was nineteen, she converted to Islam, and Jenise became Jamilah — Jheri curl and gold rings replaced by a headscarf and flowing African dresses.

A couple of years later she opened a bookstore called Sankofa, which means "to return to your roots" in Akan, the west African language. It became a hub for local activists. By the late '90s, she was protesting for minority employment rights with Eric Vickers, a popular community activist who would later become her first campaign manager. In 1999, she blocked I-70 alongside Al Sharpton and sat in the back of a paddy wagon with him.

"That was the first time I went to jail for a positive cause," she says with a staccato chuckle. "Oh man, that was fun. I felt good. I went to jail for something positive."

In 2003, to protest the lack of minority workers on a MetroLink project, she and Vickers sat on the train tracks at the Forest Park station. The next day, above the fold on the front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Metro section, there was Nasheed, stone-faced and dressed in black from head wrap to shoes, getting carried off the tracks by a half-dozen police officers.

"MetroLink was the first time that she started getting attention across the board, not just in the black community," says Vickers. "That gave her a larger profile."

Between fighting the power and shifts at the bookstore (which closed in 2006), she got married, adopted her young cousin, earned her GED and worked as a consultant on political campaigns — for names including Claire McCaskill, Irene J. Smith, Charles Troupe and Yaphettt El-Amin.

By 2006, her colleagues were pushing her to run for office, to fix the system from The Inside. The seat for 60th District state representative opened up. Nasheed ran and won. Soon after, she enrolled at a community college.

The most successful push for local control in Missouri history kicked off 80 miles south of St. Louis, in a small town called Perryville, at an old family-owned restaurant called Park-Et. It was 2009, and Mayor Slay had driven all the way down to meet with Tilley, the House majority leader at the time. Tilley had earned a reputation for being open-minded and putting principles over partisanship. Slay knew that if he wanted local control, his best shot was to sway Tilley. He did.

"I'm a conservative Republican that believes that local people should make local decisions," Tilley says. "If I wouldn't advocate for the state to run Perryville's police department, how in good conscience can I advocate that they run St. Louis'?"

When the 2010 legislative session began, Nasheed sponsored the local-control bill and Tilley cosponsored it. The two had developed a friendship over the years, one that extended beyond the capitol (Nasheed attended Tilley's 40th birthday party this past June). So for Tilley, a bill that made sense became a bill worth fighting for.

"When you have a friend who really cares deeply about an issue, it's hard not to want to help them get it done," he says. "There's a lot of issues I agree with where I don't take a personal interest to get it done, because there's just so many issues out there. This is one where a combination of good governance and the fact that Representative Nasheed was pushing it made it more of a priority."

The bill passed out of committee for the first time ever but failed on the floor. This year, Tilley made a point to sit down with every Republican to explain the merits of local control. With the most powerful man in the building lobbying hard for a bill that didn't affect anyone outside St. Louis, the rural votes swung, and local control passed with room to spare.

Once again, the Republicans came through for Nasheed.

"Were it not for the relationship that she developed with the Republicans, no way this would have happened," says Vickers, who has pushed for local control since the '80s. "Local control was seen as something that the legislature would never do. For her to be able to pull it off at this point is really an incredible legislative feat."

When the bill got to the Senate, it faced strong resistance. Chappelle-Nadal led the opposition, proclaiming that the bill would threaten the benefits of police officers. The bill that passed the House was only two pages, and while city hall assured the police union that its benefits under the state statue would carry over, the union wanted to see it in writing.

By this point, though, both sides were motivated to compromise.

"The likelihood was that we weren't gonna be able to get it passed without some kind of compromise," says Slay. "And that was fine with us. We wanted a compromise."

For the union, local control seemed unavoidable. In November, 61 percent of St. Louis voters checked "yes" on Proposition L, a proposal to measure public support for local control. Billionaire Rex Sinquefield was pushing to get a local-control ballot initiative for 2012. Plus, the bill breezed through the House, signifying a paradigm shift in how legislators perceived local control. If this was going to happen, Roorda and the union decided, they might as well help shape it.

In May, the sides reached an agreement. The bill expanded to more than twenty pages and explicitly protected the officers' benefits. The union and the police board, with Slay's support, constructed their first-ever collective-bargaining agreement.

The police union announced its approval of the bill on the final day of the legislative session. The block of opposition vanished. But the bill was held up by a group of senators who wanted cuts on historic and low-income tax credits in return. The bill died before reaching the floor for a vote.

The votes are there, though, and just about everybody thinks passage is inevitable, either in September's special session or in the 2012 session.

"I don't see any real reason why it wouldn't pass, given that all the folks on both sides have worked out the issues," says House Minority Leader Mike Talboy.

"I think I have the votes to do it," says Senator Joseph Keaveny, sponsor of the Senate bill.

"As the bill stands, I'm OK with it," says Chappelle-Nadal.

"With each passing day it looks more and more likely," says Roorda. "I can't find anyone who thinks this is unlikely."

"I'm not aware of any opposition to the bill at this time," says Slay.

St. Louis politics are not defined by Republican versus Democrat, because there usually aren't any Republicans in St. Louis politics. When votes split in city hall, the political divide is north of Delmar Boulevard versus south of Delmar Boulevard.

"We have two Democratic parties," says Nasheed. "We have the black Democratic party and the white Democratic party. When the primaries come up, whites vote for this guy, and blacks vote for that guy."

That is the political atmosphere that molded Nasheed, and that is the mindset she brings to Jefferson City. She doesn't live and die with the party because she doesn't believe the party lives and dies with her. The Democrats controlled St. Louis when her father was shot. The Democrats controlled St. Louis when she lived off of sugar bread. The Democrats controlled St. Louis when her apartment's courtyard was lined with junkies and dried blood.

"My eyes saw bodies on the street," she says. "You know how if you hear gunshots, you run away from it? It was so much of the norm for us that we would run toward it to see who it was, and we would see bodies. So now, after thinking about it, what did that do to me?"

So she doesn't fight for the Democrats. She fights for the son whose brother got shot, the niece who cuts class, and the grandmother who's seen too many teardrops and closed caskets.

And if the Democrats are down to help her out with that, all the better.

So how's everything?" Nasheed says into her Blackberry. "Are you working with your clients to get some cash in for Citizens to Elect Jamilah Nasheed? I know you are."

She sits at her black lacquered dining room table. Beside her is political consultant Ronnie Richardson, and he is holding a sheet of paper listing names — lobbyists and rich people — and anticipated contributions.

During her last campaign, in 2010, Nasheed raised more than $54,000; in her last contested race, she raised more than $90,000. She'll be on the ballot again in 2012.

"So, tell me this here," she says. "What are we looking like for a special session?...What are you hearing?...Uh huh...OK...and local control? Yeah...well, we're moving into election cycle, so you know there's a lot of political pandering going on right now..."

She mentions that the Democrats proposed a state representative redistricting map that moved her and Penny Hubbard, who also voted with the Republicans on the redistricting bill, into the same district.

"That's the punishment that the Democrats have given us, right? That's so cute," she says to the lobbyist or rich person. "However, I don't think the Republicans will sign on to the Democrats' map..."

When the call ends, Richardson marks down the $1,500 they just raised. Nasheed crosses her legs, adjusts her glasses and lets out a sigh.

This is her least favorite part of campaigning, she says — calling all these high rollers who don't even live in her district, begging for money. No, she'd much rather pound the pavement, knock on doors, shake hands with her people. Just like she did in her first campaign more than twenty years ago.

It wasn't an ordinary political beginning. She was fifteen, and the manager of the Darst-Webbe project was kicking her out for fighting too much. She asked him to give her another chance.

OK, he said: If you can get enough neighbors to sign a petition, you can stay. So she pounded the pavement, climbed all nine floors of her building, knocking on doors until she collected more than 300 signatures. He relented. She was allowed to stay. Then a week later she got into a fight and was kicked out for good.

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She seems to condone dismantling the police and entire legal system, all in the name of "equality" . Allow me to use an analogy,,, 

At the moment ( and for quite some time now...) our  Country, is very much like a Pre-meltdown Chernobyl. Yes,tempers and frustrations are running at an all time high. There IS a vendetta and a grudge  about class, race, and privileges of the rich, the poor and the disenfranchised..

Instead of finding a way to cool off the reaction and bring the problem under control in a controlled and orderly manner, she is by her own rhetoric, promising in essence to yank the control rods completely out.  That action, would cause a chain reaction that would become  irreversibly destructive. Thereby, creating an environment that only lawlessness and anarchy could prevail.

The bottom line is this,,,

She is in complete support of groups who have openly declared war or genocide, ( when you declare your going to kill an entire groups due to the color of their skin,  in the same fashion ISIS declares death to the unbeliever, it becomes a either a war, or genocide) If  ANYBODY  will  stand together , support and applaud hate groups of that nature, you have no business to be in politics. 

Before yo go off on my viewpoints lets clear the air for a second.. I'm a homeless disabled Veteran. I AM,,, one of the very poor and disenfranchised. But I still have faith in humanity as a whole. Faith that as a collective, we CAN make a better place for ourselves, ,each other and  our descendants.  

But if we as a people, feel the need to resort to using violence for fun and to make a point,  instead of making the change like HUMANS BEINGS,, in a rational and peaceful manner, then perhaps it's time for the Ebola Virus to wipe out humanity and give the world back to the cockroaches. Perhaps they can be more civilized than us next time around...


wonderful example of woodpile mentality.  if black were beautiful, she would be absolutely a princess...unfortunately, she has the attitude of a terrorist.


WOW, I've been reading all of the comments regarding this article and it floors me that today, we can honestly state that there's still racism in this world.  Nigger? Illiterate? Excuses for black communities being the way that they are?  It's really quite SAD!  First off for those of you that know nothing about Jamilah Nasheed, left me give you some facts regarding my friend:  Never were we in a gang, that some of you may think of when you hear such word.  "gang (noun) 3.) a group of people with compatible tastes or mutual interests who gather together for social reasons: I'm throwing a party for the gang I bowl with."  We hung out all the time and did things that all teenagers did or may have wanted to do:  skating, went to parties, went to carnivals, concerts, church, and just had plain old fun.  To state that she's illiterate because you may not like her choice of words are just ignorance on all of your part.  Not everyone are the same, not everyone communicates the same but to think that your choice of verbiage is the right way, is offensive in itself.  We, as people, make excuses for our behaviors because we feel that were justified to do so.  Why would one believe that their way is the Right Way?  Because, we trust our own judgments before others, so you're warranted that belief.  I think all of you that are posting on this site and voicing your opinion, I would hope are smart enough to know the history of "African Americans"?  We may not speak your specific choice of words because earlier in time, we were never given the opportunity to learn or better yet, even be treated the same.  We learned on our own, we overcame all of the obstacles that we were faced with and I'm sorry to be the one to inform you:  but, I honestly don't believe that many of you would be here today had you been faced with those same challenges.  So, I'm sure you're pondering:  "No, I'm not Racist at all"!  But, will I take a stand for someone I truly know, that you only know from articles, Yes!  To summarize blacks as illiterate, violent, and don't want much out of life.... You only have yourselves to Thank for this outcome.  When I speak of you, I'm not addressing the ones specifically making comments because you feel your the only voice that needs to be heard, I'm addressing the "white man" that have oppressed our communities for years and still feel as though they were right for this rhetoric.  Concluding:  I beg to differ with all of your opinions about "black" and its' communities.  We've never had a fair opportunity....this is fact and not an excuse.  Of course, this goes well beyond all of you making your sarcasm remarks but when this type of behavior is constantly practiced, then we as a nation gets NOWHERE.  You may take a look at: 

Sociological Comparisons between African-Americans and Whites and review the statistics for yourself. 

I can only pray for all of you at this time because as I hate to be the one to inform you, and as smart as all of you are; you would think you would know this already, but only God can judge one's character.  When you leave earth, where will you go? 

Peace and Love to all of you,

Sharron Banks

African American Student

Webster University's Dean List

GPA:  3.9


Team Jamilah Nasheed:  You have to truly know her, to understand her!


A caption to one of the photos reads, "I'm black before I'm a Democrat." -- What the hell? What if someone said, "I'm White before I'm a Republican." Well, that person would be all over the news for being a racist.

Double standard.


This paragraph says what is wrong here.

"So she's effective in the sense that she gets stuff done with the Republicans," she says, pulling the phone to her ear. "She'll say, 'Because I'm getting stuff for my people.' Her district is one of the poorest. I'm not too sure how much she's gotten...

I guess without campaign finance limits someone can happily buy her district now.


Nasheed's comments sound more like a "campaign" comment ! Cage those votes early, as educated and informed voters don't buy the race card play. Clearly has signed her ticket toback to the hood and unemployment line come the General elections. You just can't fix stupid !

Justice for me.
Justice for me.

Her entire persona is so negro she is actually holding her community back. She would serve her community better being elected to the shampoo girl at alderman Flower's beauty salon.


Last time I checked this is the USA ! Hoods, territories, etc as subscribed to by the majority of "minorities" simply promotes "compartmentalization of our society. Until those elements progress out of the jungle culture there will be racism - period ! Playing the "race card" while subscribing to the behaviors that simply promote racism as evident in the majority of black communities and obviously subscribed to by Nasheed is clearly hypocritical, disingenuous and has diminished validity to race issue claims in the general populous ! One is either part of the problem or part of the solution > At the end of the day, Nasheed is clearly a promoter of the problem and ultimately defines her relevance - which is clearly Zero !


leticia olalia morales of 15501 pasadena ave #8 tustin ca 92780 submitted fake documents and paid 5000 dollars to obtain a US tourist visa. she also submitted fake employment records to obtain a work visa. she is now applying for citizenship. her contact at the embassy was man named sandman.


I'm white and I have been treated badly by blacks many times in my life. I've been assaulted on the street for walking down the sidewalk. I've been yelled at, called a "cracker", "white bread", and so much more. I do have black friends, I am not a racist, but any idiot can see that black people by and large are the criminals, drug addicts, murderers, and rapists of America.


Good post. Double standards in the black community need stop.


because you think all blacks are on crack and you should know because you're black and on crack??


Whites keep blacks out of their businesses, that is untrue, jews keep blacks out of everything.


Is this what the black is, a killer? Pathetic and predictable.


Whites don't want to be around your criminal rapist ass.


So the black muslim was hanging out at a Lil Wayne concert and she ran into the black baptist and they got catty? This should/could be an SNL skit. I guess when "Nasheed" did the stabbing she didn't get a felony charge/conviction...or can you run for office as a felon in Missouri?


N I double G U R ess


James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Jamilah Nasheed. All great political intellectuals. Yeah.

Good luck constituents.


She is a lawn jockey or porch monkey first ! This is the RFT - what do you expect???


how the hell is chappelle-nadal going to complain about nasheed siding with the democrats?? chappelle-nadal didn't even vote for obama ffs!!!


People wonder why others are racist. I am white and after reading an article like this I now am one.


Yes, who does Jamilah Nasheed think she is? She is a racist. I think the answer to her question to Mayor Slay is to tone down the vitriol of people like her. Whether you are black or white (and I am not going to mention other races just to throw them in to be politically correct, because this is about being black and or white in St.Louis), it is not fair or appropriate to admit as a politician that you put race before all else in making your decisions. Would there not be an uproar if this article were about a white politician who was published in the press as vocally admitting putting being white before being a Democrat in a racially divided city that needs to work on race relations? When we can say as people, when our politicians can say as politicians, I am a St. Louisan before I am a Democrat or a Republican, before I am black or white, that is when our city will be able to become a better, healthier, more respectable and more complete and whole place to live. Shame on you Jamilah Nasheed, and shame on all of you who continue to further this ridiculousness in a city that in so many other ways has become progressive and something to be proud of.


Really????? The purpose of remembering slavery is so that mistake can never happen again??? in this century?? I gave your arguments some substance until you said that complete nonsense. Its in all of the history books so everyone knows about it and will always know about it. To claim that African Americans are scarred from it today is complete, total bullshit. Its an excuse. Should anyone forget it? Absolutely not. Should you (as a group) use it as an excuse not to achieve greatness? Absolutely not but you are.

Just so you know, I as a white person am reminded of slavery frequently by people such as yourself but carry no guilt or shame for something that happened over a hundred years ago nor do I try to forget it ever happened. I have no reason to apologize to you or any black person for slavery because its a part of history I wasn't involved in and neither were you. If that in your eyes makes me a racist then so be it. I will start celebrating white history month instead of black history month.. oh wait there is no white history month. I'll start watching the Miss White America beauty pageant instead of the Miss Black America pageant... oh wait, there is no miss white america pageant. Maybe I will start reading literature from the NAAWP instead of the NAACP, oh wait, there is no association for the advancement of white people. the next time I will vote for a white president so there is actually a truth that you could possibly call me a racist for.

Also, the last time I checked, the majority of police officers in the city of St. Louis were black so blame yourselves.

Justin O.
Justin O.

I believe that at this point, the hugest problem facing north St. Louis is the black on black crime. They are killing each other every day and it is very sad. There is a famous quote that says before you can love anyone, you have to learn to love yourself. It is very difficult to bridge any relations gap when one side is apparently its own worst enemy and killing each other. If Nasheed could get everyone in north St. Louis to stop the killing, and get along with each other, only then will she have something to bring to the better relations table.

Don't give me the slavery excuse either. My great grandfather had a number tattooed across his arm thanks to his stay at Hitler's concentration camp. Those people weren't taken from their homes and sold into slavery in a different country, they were taken from their homes, put into a concentration camp and brutally murdered, women and children first of course and then their skin was dried and used for lamp shades. Some of them survived. Not one time did my grandparents or my parents or myself say, I am too scarred because of what happened a couple of generations ago and the German people still keep me down because I'm a Jew so I have no motivation or desire to bust out of my current situation and fight like hell to make something of myself.

Every individual is in charge of their own destiny in this country. Some people have it made easy to succeed and others have to overcome difficult challenges whether it is due to race, health issues, or something else. Its time to stop blaming and start doing. Its hard to do if you are down but the reward is priceless. Any people of north St. Louis of any color who are struggling need an inspiring leader who promotes individual self worth, motivation and positivity, not someone with a "what are YOU going to do about that Mr. Mayor" attitude.

Collective Agenda
Collective Agenda

@James. It sounds like you're assuming that I'm Black. FAIL.

It also sounds like you are defining education based upon the status quo of indoctrinating children into being good citizens of the society we live in. EPIC, RACIST FAIL. Education is not how much a person can be trained to be like you, it is the teachings that help them grow to be a responsible member of their community and the world community. But that's a common racist mistake; forcing your culture on another group of people for your own gain. You seem to misunderstand "education," so I shall "educate" you.

The ancestors you speak of did good work on behalf of equal rights in this country. And they must be spinning in their graves to hear their descendant waste time and energy generalizing the very people they sought to help. Undoing you ancestors’ work- FAIL!

That police pull you over because you disobey the law. The police far too many Black people over because they "SUSPECT" they break the law. The suspicion is based on perspective, one that is not in Black people's best interest. But when a Black Man who is tired of being pulled over for the cops poor "suspicion," the cop is trained to accelerate the situation to the point of using force, the situation ends up bad. Cops are here to protect you, but their here to watch and aggress on Black people.

The past is only inconvenient for those who history makes to look bad. Germans want to forget about the Nazi takeover, and how a vast majority of their citizenry assumed a mob mentality and killed over 6 million human beings. They want to forget that, but ask a Jew if they forget it.

The Catholic church wants to forget the Inquisition and the string of child molestations coming to light recently. Ask the parents; did they forget? Should the children just "get over it?" Should the common folk forget that the church can give in to extremity and killed thousands of people on trump up charges of heresy and “Black” magic? Not at all, that knowledge should guide their interactions from then on. And the church should remember; so as not to make such mistakes ever again.

That's the purpose of remembering slavery; so that mistake can never happen again. But mentalities like yours that “just want to forget” run the risk of not learning the lesson. This COULD lead to some serious problems, and not just for you (see all of your FAIL(ures) above). You could come to feel like it’s REALLY ok to treat people like you think; that would be a problem for you.

Now "education" would dictate that you learn something about your racist perspective on the matter. Hopefully, you have received your "education" well.


What a dumb article, this Nasheed seems like an idiot, "I am black before a Democrat." If I ever said "I am white before a Republican", it would definitely not be looked upon as positive. She brings race into issues that it should not be brought into. Way to look out for your constituents Nasheed, you moron. You voted on certain things just because you were mad at people that didn't vote for your cause. That is the worst kind of representative!! Why don't you make your decisions based on the actual facts of the issue, not on whether you dislike someone that week or because of the color of your skin. This is one of the reasons St. Louis is the way it is, you vote for representatives because they are black...not because of their education or knowledge. She doesn't know what the hell she is doing.


Until there is recognition that blacks can be as racist as whites and the term "race relations" should not mean whites giving stuff to blacks, there will be no movement forward between the races.


I would be curious to know from this woman what made her join a gang when she was younger and if while in that gang she committed crimes against her own neighborhood, her own neighborhood's economy by stealing retail or other crimes. If she would use her past experiences to help kids avoid falling into the same trap, then more power to her. I just don't think that going on the offensive against the mayor would be the best approach to the issues of her area. In retrospect, she seems to be relying on her old gang methods of trying to get something.


Fortunately, for her sake, the people who she is looking to represent are neither educated NOR informed.


C'mon. She's fly!


Black people can't be racist......primarily because none of them even know what that word means. It is just something they cry when they want to get their way.

The Black community is annoying......spend some time there and tell me if you do not agree.


When are Blacks going to accept responsibility for anything involving Blacks?


@Justin O. As a Man of Native American descent, I can relate to much of what you said. The only "the man" that holds you back is yourself...( I wonder if that quote of mine will ever catch on?...)


Hey guy........ask yourself why so many people suspect blacks of crimes as a generalization? Is it because everyone in the world is an evil racist or is it because a lot of Blacks have no problem fully embodying these so called stereotypes?

I work for a charity that primarily benefits blacks from poor areas.......guess how many black volunteers we have?

Exactly one......he is a pretty cool guy.......

Why is it that you can sell out a Little Wayne concert in 20 mins, but you can't get more than 50% of your kids to graduate high school. It isnt like high school is difficult.

Nathan L.
Nathan L.

How can math, spelling or scientific principles such as those that apply to inert material be forcing a culture on someone for their own gain? Without such basic knowledge you will be a failure regardless of your skin tone. So forcing me to learn about slavery and Martin Luther King would be forcing your culture on me. I don't mind because I get a free day off of work for MLK day. Remembering a movement such as slavery is guaranteed in just about every history book. To suggest that it could happen again is outrageous. To use it as an excuse is destroying the black culture. I know black doctors, nurses and department managers who are very successful so obviously it didn't hold them back. Obviously the mentalities of north St. Louis "just want to forget" the mistakes of Vick and still run the risk of not learning a lesson that dog fighting is illegal but it is inconvenient to them, evidenced by all of the abused, tortured and injured dogs brought in to shelters on a regular basis from their areas. How do I know this??? I volunteer at one.


@Collective Agenda....When you are edu-ma-cating someone, it is always a good idea to chek yur spelin'. Freaking moron.


I have never, ever heard any Jewish person say "I get picked on by the police, live in a crime neighborhood, can't finish high school or get a job because I am scarred from Auschwitz" Many now you will understand how ridiculous your claims are.

James Hodges
James Hodges

What utter nonsense. I assumed nothing with regard to your race. Nor did I say or imply that the purpose of education was to make people be more like me. Also, I never so much as inferred that slavery should be forgotten.

My ancestors would not be spinning in their graves because of anything I have said or done. In fact, they would agree with me. They put their lives and finances in jeopardy to do the morally correct thing and help free and educate a people so they could become the best and most responsible people that they could be. They did not do this so that those same people could sit on their butts wallowing in self pity and blaming everyone else for their shortcomings.

You are also wrong about the police. To pull you over they have to have a thing called “probable cause.” This goes beyond the simple suspicion that someone may have committed a crime. Probable cause has nothing to do with being black or white.

You will not educate anyone with your ranting. You are much more transparent than you think. When your arguments fail you try to change what people have said by giving your revisionist interpretation to what they said in an attempt to validate your own drivel. In short, don’t try to put words in my mouth… you’re simply not that good.

I also notice that you respond to me indirectly in a whole new disjointed post rather than back where I responded directly to you. Did you think it would go un-noticed. It wasn’t a very slick move. It didn’t make you come off looking any smarter. And… it didn’t minimize the risk of me coming back with a sound rebuttal to your silly BS.

The only question left to ask of you is: Do you have any independent thoughts of your own or are you only capable of spewing liberal pap?

Your comprehension of what I said – FAILYour knowledge of what my ancestors either thought or would think – FAILYour knowledge of police procedures – FAILYour notion that no one knows real education except yourself – FAILYour attempt at intellectualism – FAILYour thought process—FAIL!!!

Ethan L.
Ethan L.

I work with a large percentage of black people. I have reached out to them and ignored what color their skin was. I have made several black friends and have had them to my home for parties. They were invited to my wedding. However, if we pass in the hallway at work and there is another black person or black people that they don't even know, they will completely blow me off and acknowledge total strangers just because they are black instead. I don't get it, I don't treat friends of any color like that and that kind of behavior is like an ever present underlying racism that black people keep alive within themselves.


Is she was in a gang and committed a crime while in the gang, her ass should be in jail.

James Hodges
James Hodges

You don't hear them harping on being slaves in Egypt, or Persia or any other place, or as being an excuse for not having a job either. They have been slaves in many places and yet thrive and excel at what they do...


thats probably because they can see the racism in you that you cannot. dont call them friends if your going to say you dont trust them behind their backs on the internet

Ethan L.
Ethan L.

I never said I didn't trust them, YOU did. What does acknowledging a stranger over someone you hang out with on a regular basis because they are the same color as you have anything to do with trust. Quit putting out negativity I never said or implied. To turn it back on me with lies is typical of a person who won't accept responsibility or accept the shortcomings of others or is a moron. That kind of mentality will keep you down to a loser status in some fairytale world where everything is always somebody's fault.

By the way, I did ask my black friends why they do that when we were out to lunch one day, and the response was "I didn't realize I did that".

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