Community Organizer, Chama St. Louis addresses Community:
I am Chama St. Louis I live in Peoria.
I’m actually not here to speak to the council today. I don’t think that this method is effective. Mainly because half of you really don’t care, the other half may care, but not enough to speak out publicly against any of these things for fear of risking your ability to be elected by your constituents. It’s clear to me that several of you don’t quite get the concept of: you’re only as strong as your weakest link.
So today I am here to speak to the folks in this city who carry the real power; the people who control your ability to sit in these seats in the future.
I am speaking to the residents who live on the side of town I grew up on, the south side of Peoria, to the citizens who live in the Averyville community on the north end, to the folks on the east bluff, to the residents who live in the Taft Homes, Harrison, Lexington Hills and Aspen Bluff, to the people who have been largely forgotten who make up Latin X Community, the people who struggle in poverty regardless of race. The perception is that you are powerless, that you are an afterthought. That your opinions, your concerns, your issues don’t matter.
To the voices who came before me whose lights have been dimmed and voices have been quieted after years of fighting alone, your work hasn’t gone unnoticed. To my friends who make up the progressive community here in Peoria, fighting to get the city to agree that immigrants and the undocumented are people of value too.
What we have around the horseshoe is not leadership. What you see around the horseshoe is corruption, self interests over the needs of the people and nepotism. You see people who get paid to waste your money. People who think investments that “may or may not” attract more people into the city makes more sense than investments into the people who already live in the city and occupy the areas that are the most economically depressed.
I came here to tell you that you can change all of this. The people you see before me are no better than you, no smarter than you, they don’t have better ideas than you, they don’t deserve to represent us any more than any of you.
If we would exercise our right to vote, if we would step up and run for office, there would be less of a need to March and protest, Louie Cruz, Daniel El, Eddie Russell, Jr. and Demetric Mobley would probably still be alive today. If funding our public schools was the number one priority versus giving away millions of dollars to private developers, we would have the power to create a new normal for Peoria. A Peoria where thriving communities, living wages, less crime and more productive citizens would not be a fantasy, it would be a reality.