LOCAL News :: Crime and Police : Media Reform Conference

Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

The Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression (CAPCR), in St. Louis, has been working to support the establishment of a Civilian Review Board in the City of St. Louis. The proposed Board would be formed as an independent Civilian Oversight mechanism that would primarily allow for neutral investigation of complaints against the Police. Free Press, a media reform group, has recently descended on the city of St. Louis with its second National Conference on Media Reform. Residents and activists in St. Louis have asked the conference to support the idea of a citizen oversight board to help diminish police brutality.
Following an article in the most recent issue of the Confluence([search]), a local community based radical newspaper, attendees of the conference have been thinking about a way to put pressure on Free Press, to help them make the connection between police brutality, media reform, and the struggles that we face in this repressive reality.

The article notes that part of the campaign to win this Civilian Oversight Board (COB), includes putting pressures on conferences that happen in the city of St Louis. Free Press was asked to support the COB, but decided not to for various reasons.

Since Free Press as a larger organization has decided against signing on, people are taking things into their own hands — which happens to be a general fact in peoples struggles, the bourgeosie class ignores the issues facing the oppressed, until they take issue into their own hands and pressure the ruling and capitalist classes to action, or downfall. There have been various calls to make the feelings of the people known at the Free Press conference, which is being held at the Millenium Riverfront Hotel in downtown St. Louis.

There are quite a few ways folks can voice how they feel. One way would be to voice support for a Civilian Oversight Board. There is a petition floating around the conference for individuals and organizations to do just that. You can also contact the Mayor of St. Louis, and voice your support directly to him: Mayor Francis Slay([search]), (314) 622-3201. You can also contact Free Press: or 1-866-666-1533.

Ultimately, our struggles for truth and liberation are intertwined finely, and we should recognize that and support one another wherever possible.


Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

After reading the Confluence([search]) issue, media activists approached and encouraged them to take the correct steps in recognizing that police brutality in St. Louis is an important issue. agreed to announce in the opening plenary that they would allow a seperate table for the Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repressions and there would be a petition for conference goers to sign. While we wish that Freepress would have mailed the letter, we are grateful that they took these steps. Now the over 2,000 people who are here at this conference are slightly more aware of the evil power structures of St. Louis. This is grassroots work at it's best!

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

Why so you say the power structures of St. Louis are evil? Is it because you aren't part of them? I wonder what will happen when you get your wish and the police and all other government enforcements vanish. Perhaps the hundreds of sexual offenders that live in south St. Louis will leave you alone for the sake of community harmony. Maybe the thousand+ home invaders in north county will respect your space on their own. Perhaps criminals with guns will plant lillies in the barrels. The problem with a VAST majority of the opinions posted here are that they are so left wing, so one sided, that they have little chance of actualization in reality. You think that through protests and petitions that you will topple the "evil" government? The government has flamethrowers. 'Nuff said.

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

Vocabulary distinction:
"Civilian Review Board" is Mayor Slay([search])'s watered-down proposal attemting to appease reformers. The real deal is called the "Civilian Oversight Board."

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

Maybe if CAPCR([search]) keeps trying the same failed experiment again and again (reform - making demands to those who you propose are keeping you down - which they are) maybe all of a sudden things will change

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

to anon poster 1,
i dont understand why you are attacking. isnt it appropriate to criticise unaccountable power structures? No one is advocating unsafe and unsustainable communal associations. People want justice, there shouldnt be anything too lefty about that.

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

I thought the conference was ok. I mean there wasn't really much of an ethnic representation or youth. I am really glad that there was at least some youth here but the conference didn't really give solutions just restated the problems that we are mostly all pretty aware of...

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

I'd prefer if both first & last name were printed in large letters. Everybody kept squinting at people's chests...
Names are important for networking, so make it easier next time, please.

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

When I was at the conference, I didn't see any CAPCR([search]) table with a petition - and I looked. Also, nothing Free Press has done changes anything. They have only done a small token sweet-ass liberal bullshit thing to gloss things a bit. That is not grassroots at its best. The over 2000 only know one thing - that we can be appeased so fucking easily.

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

Civilian Oversight is a reform measure used to educate - that's really all - cause nobody in there unbrainwashed mind wants police...but some reform measures are subversive depending on who is involved. It's not just educational either. It's a way to keep racism in the public eye. It makes people start thinkin about the police and community involvement. It may even have people thinkin radical anarchist thoughts about just taken care of business on their own - civilian defense. It may lead to revolution right from the place somebody's at - and surprise your low expectation ass. Police only protect one thing - capitalists and other tyrants. But that person who has that cop's foot steppin on their face with another kickin em in the side might not see it like that yet - til they get with these "reformist" folks who offer some radical analyis on the side - like desert, it's the best part...a little after dinner revolution. But there ain't no cake with Free Press and that conference. They ain't offering radical analysis on the side - they represent the worst of what reform sometimes is - no space for moving people in the direction of true liberation with the sweet taste of a bit of the truth. They're a liberal co-optation leading nowhere - arrogant white folks thinking they can lead the other arrogant white folks in the "nice" direction.

Folks at the conference so want to believe that the only direction that masses of people will follow is reform. But you talk to em right, like they got some brains...and don't waste there time boring em to seductive...well you just might find yourself inspiring some folks to more than you ever dreamed.

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

Wait, so let me get this straight. You all live in a town where companies like Anheiser-Bush and Monsanto([search]) are headquartered and police brutality is a problem, and you're spending your time attacking a group from out of town actively fighting for policies that enable things like IMCs to flourish because they won't sign your letter?

Your priorities are pretty out of whack, I think. What difference does it make what some organization in DC or NY or whatever thinks about police brutality here? Let them spend their time on affecting policies so IMCs don't get raided by the FBI and shit like that.

This is the left attacking the left. You want to know why the GOP is in power? Because no one on the right spends time attacking others on the right for not being far enough to the right.

Go after the real bad guys here, folks. Go after the police. Go after the major local corporations. Go after unions. Certainly ANY of those things would be better than going after some Clintonite group from out of town.

Seriously. Look at your priorities here.

the old divert attention from the issues

go ahead and promote the liberal white agenda all you want and pretend it's the left attacking the left. There were very few of the left at that conference and they weren't fightin for imcs
So don't go trying to act like we are all one and are attacking each other. You need to take a trip abroad to some more truly radical communities that make our left look right-wing and our liberals like the brainwashed fools they are. I am so tired of reading all these folks writing nice excuses for Free Press. And acting like their actions wouldn't have helped us in St. Louis. YOu all just don't get it, do you - we will not have a free press until the grassroots controls the movement - and that grassroots is busy fighting off the police, trying to survive and downright tired and demoralized by goody too shoes folks trying to gloss over Free Press's dirt.

Get your priorities "straight"

You know who the "bad" guys really are? People who make excuses instead of owning their own shit. Yeah - let's let poor little itty bitty innocent Free Press do their work. Wrong!
Nice try but only nobody without a clue (maybe you) is going to buy that your lame ass shit. Free Press isn't about media reform - they are about pleasing their funders. Half their panelists sounded like they were making speeches to run for office as democrats, the other half sounded (with a few exceptions) sounded like they were saying all the right things to continue to get liberal funding without challenging anything significant that would meaningfully change people's lives, except to prop up more illusions that something is being done about the evils of the media.

Free Press has followed the age old democrat way to make money - work on liberal issues and look good to all the liberals/keep the image good - but don't really challenge anyone. It's an age old strategy.

You sound very afraid to challenge yourself, and way to caught up in the world of the "experts" who are the problem. We don't need no more "experts" speaking for others - and Free Press hasn't challenged that - only replicated it with liberals.

And we are supposed to accept that cause they are supposed to "care" about us poor marginalized folk. Free Press is full of patronizing arrogant folk who can't see that they are that. Most white folks with money don't. Well, they showed how much they cared, didnt' they.

So get off your arrogant pedastal and do something to challenge yourself to see the DIRECT connections of media issues to police brutality - and help free press do it. I don't think Free Press should ever hold a conference in a city without a Civilian Oversight Board of the Police - or at posh hotels no one can afford and only the wealthy benefit from. Free Press acted in a classist, sexist, racist, imperialistic - the typical white supremacist patriarchal capitalist manner - while working on media issues. Oh yeah - let's all celebrate! We have a conference on the liberal version of how they'd do media - a kinder gentler white supremacy, capitalism and patriarchy. Yippee! Same old shit, served a bit different.


"Free Press acted in a classist, sexist, racist, imperialistic - the typical white supremacist patriarchal capitalist manner - while working on media issues."

Tell me that CAPCR([search]) -- with some of its male, controlling leadership living in St. Louis _County_ -- isn't acting the same way in trying to destroy the city's economy. Why won't CAPCR call for boycotts in St. Louis or St. Charles counties, where the deeper pockets of racism are? Why are they asking people not to spend money in the most diverse part of the region? They are jerking us city residents around in the name of political correctness.

Boycotts aren't revolutionary. "Grassroots" organizations lead by suburban men aren't revolutionary. Free Press and CAPCR both are more of the same-old, same-old. They exist to keep their leadership's names in the paper -- classic useless dick-size-counting on the part of everyone in those groups.

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

any group that proposes a carte blanche economic boycott of the city of st. louis for conventions has declared war on the working people of this city. any group that anatgonizes a reasonably left gathering of people who have come to st. louis who may view this city as something other than a wasted ghetto must want to hold us poor folk back and perpetuate a negative image. i was glad that free press came here, even though i think they're naive and reformist. the attendees of the conference spent time and money here and many of them seemed to like our city, which belongs to all of us and for which we should have great pride. the capcr([search]) boycott entails enconomic deprivation of a struggling city and is just a left-coated version of the economic oppression that has ravished us. maybe the capcr leaders just want to rule the ghetto they create, kinda like the democrats.

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

I understand that there is a problem with the police in this city, but I am not quite sure how out of towners signing a petition will have any influence on the members of a city if they have no ability to vote and no real connection with the community.

I am sure that there are many organizations fighting for social justice in St. Louis, but none of them seem to need to push their agenda on this organization that is trying to open up media systems so that the efforts to start such boards are read about in the local paper. The conference was about MEDIA REFORM. Instead of spending all your time getting some petition filed, why don't you actually pay attention to the active measures that are being explained at the conference so you can engage your OWN community in signing the petition rather than people who have no real influence in your community? Obviously if you need to spend time harassing groups that are trying to help change the larger structures you are not getting too much done. The left attacking the left will never get anything done.

In fact what have you gotten done besides being a bunch of whiners?

Bad-Mau-Mouthing FreePress

Bad-Mau-Mouthing FreePress

The original post reveals much about why the campaign for a Civilian Oversight Board in St. Louis has been bogged down for years: The tone is strident, the motive is opportunist, the thrust is clueless, the method is reproachful.
This is just how its most vocal proponents have alienated local allies, and keep shooting themselves in the foot.

First of all, impugning FreePress for not waving CAPCR([search])'s flag, and failing some self-serving standard of political correctness -- this is ugly & counterproductive. Those folks worked hard & long to create this national/world forum on *Media Reform*, not local police affairs. It's their soapbox, and they are not obliged to cede this to anyone. The conference brought together amazing people working in diverse ways on these huge issues -- a golden chance to learn something, respectful of its purposes and scope. Still John Nichols gave strong and prominent mention of CAPCR and the COB issue at least twice in the proceedings, generous indeed. Apparently some zealots bent on grousing and guilt-tripping just don't get it.

And to demand that FreePress formally endorse the COB bill is just absurd:
That organization does not embody any local interest or expertise on police review, so it has no credible standing in municipal politics. Of course they didn't even have time to think about it, just coming into town to stage a major event -- enough in itself for polite excuses. In fact had they done so, they might have been forced to reject this demand outright, as simply improper.

Realize also that it takes substantial review & deliberation for any organization to adopt an official public position... there is an internal process that must be respected, not subject to ideological blackmail. This instance is reminiscent of the PR debacle in November '01, when CAPCR called various organizations to join a press event at City Hall, and nobody else came. In truth they had not done the hard, humble outreach work required to present a broad-based united front. As a volunteer at that time, I had to personally provide copies of the Board Bill to several key organizations, but on short notice they could not be cornered into supporting a piece of legislation they had not even SEEN.

No question -- the need for police oversight in St. Louis is critical. As a civil rights advocate in the trenches, I am acutely aware of the chronic violence, bias, corruption, extortion, and lack of accountability entrenched in law enforcement practices. At the same time, there are deep-seeded myths about the police in public and media views... the heroic "thin blue line" syndrome that occludes straight talk about what cops actually DO, and the ingrained fears to speak up.

This campaign has to engage a broader alliance with sense and intelligence.
To date I have bitten my tongue on the tactical bungling, but it's too important to ignore or deny: Clearly all the strident old-school street politics and sloganeering ARE NOT WORKING. All they have accomplished over 4 years is to polarize this issue on racial lines, and set up a political stalemate... same as it ever was in St. Louis.

In fact it should appeal to the broadest public interests in our city, understanding police conduct as a legitimate realm of public policy, and looking to establish civilian oversight as a matter of essential 'good civics', affecting us all.

Hearkening to brother Eldridge, mau-mauing FreePress is not part of the solution... it's definitely part of the problem.


_scottie addison, Coordinator
pcu_/Free Assembly Project
St. Louis, MO

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

O.K., folks, settle down. As a local attender of the Conference on Media Reform, i can tell you that an announcement was made during the wrap-up that it is important for people to write to Mayor Francis Slay([search]) and advise him to set up a civilian review board for the City P. D. I agree that an Oversight Board is what we really want, with some investigative power and teeth. The ideas that are being brought to St. Louis by Free Press are all about JUSTICE. Some of us have become discouraged about the existence of such a concept. The idea of media reform is to place the power of print, broadcast, and internet into the hands of the people, instead of in the claws of the corporate conglomerates. They feed us a lot of sensationalist nonsense about movie stars and other subjects having little to do with our own lives. We need to know what is actually happening in the places where our children are fighting wars "for us" when decisions were made behind closed doors to mislead us with outright lies.

We need to have better direct access to the people in government who are "representing us";
right now the ones who have that access are highly paid special interest lobbyists. We need to return to the original ideas of our Constitution and Bill of Rights, restoring ourselves to a government of the people, by the people. This may be a lot of hard work, beyond griping on a public blog, although the blog is a good start. Thanks for taking the time to hear me out.

You will certainly be hearing more on this subject. Hey, i counted over 200 attendees to the conference from MO, and the majority from the metro area!

comments missing?

there should be 13 comments here. i saw a few more a few minutes ago. now there's only 10. is it my browser?

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

it was my browser. i see them all now.

Re: Free Press Int'l Takes Heat for Slighting Local Affairs

Dear anonymous,
You sound unusually familiar. Why do YOU seem to concentrate on the unseen criminals, when there are so many criminals in office as politicians or police officers? Could you be a PR shill for Slay([search]) and Mokwa([search]) cranking out this bile from a Clayton PR office? Not fun being outed, is it?

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