Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A different kind of rage

-- by Dave

One of the unpleasant facts about being a journalist is that sooner or later, you're going to be wrong and make mistakes. I've certainly made them here before, and doubtless will again. But as always, when it happens I do what I can to correct.

A couple of weeks ago I popped up a quick post about the rampage by an enraged citizen in the council chambers of Kirkwood, Mo., and suggested that it fit into a pattern of anti-government extremism playing out in a violent spiral as it often has in other locales. Even though the perpetrator was a black man, in most other respects this incident initially resembled those earlier incidents.

But it turns out that the matter is considerably more complex than that.

Brad Hicks has been looking deeper into the case, noting that Kirkwood has a history of being something of a "sundown suburb" (which we've discussed at length previously:
Fortunately, James Kirkwood's experiment had accidentally shown the way out of this dilemma. Kirkwood didn't buy into this idea, much, but all of the suburbs north of Kirkwood, the ones that were unsuccessfully trying to copy James Kirkwood's formula, revamped themselves as working class communities. Then the city of St. Louis not-to-gently encouraged the entire working class population of the north half of St. Louis to evacuate to north and northwest county, to make room for all-black tenements. To this very day, if you're black, and you want to live in a neighborhood that happens to be less than 10% black, good luck getting a realtor anywhere near St. Louis to show you a house, or a landlord to admit that there are any apartments for lease.

Moreover, there's evidence of a racial animus at play in the drama that played out last month, Hicks reports:
But unless they can show even one white contractor in Kirkwood who was treated the same way when he didn't immediately pack up his business and leave town, they still have something important left to explain, because the evidence is clear and unambiguous: for a span of roughly one year, the city of Kirkwood, and specifically one of Thornton's targets that night Public Works Director Ken Yost, absolutely was trying to put him out of business in an over-the-top campaign of harassment.

Hicks has done exemplary work on this case, and hopefully he will get answers to some of the questions he raises.

In the meantime, I'm glad to correct the record on this. (And a hat tip to Brennan.)

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