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A Letter From The Sacrifice Zone By Chama St. Louis Community Organizer

Dear (Insert your name here),

I am writing you this letter as a wakeup call. Peoria is currently on fire and no one is safe. The fire is quickly spreading throughout the city and will soon reach your house and your family. 

Don’t be fooled. Just because you see smoke in the distance and can’t see the flames doesn’t mean the fire isn’t getting closer to you. 

This fire is more intense than anything we’ve experienced before. It has already eliminated 40% of the residents living on the south side of our city and driven 90% of those who are left into poverty. Our communities have been abandoned by our City Leaders, and also by our own people too. We know that higher poverty leads to more crime, which leads to over policing and creates a vicious cycle of oppression.

The fire has ignited more racist behavior within our city’s public departments. Instead of working to put out the fire, our public officials and public safety workers have added more fuel to the fire. Police abuse is rampant and within the last two years, has already caused the deaths of Eddie Russell, Jr. Daniel El, Luis Cruz and David Smith. All black men under the age of 35. 

It seems our public officials have pulled up a chair for a front row seat. Their silence can be heard as loud as the chant “burn baby burn” as the fire moves in closer to consume your children, parents and siblings. 

I have learned that there is only one way a fire can be contained. That is by setting up a line of defense with a contingency plan. This will allow us to work our way closer to the fire, create more layers of defense and stop it from spreading throughout the city. We have to find the right people who will be unafraid to take bold action to put out the fire; those who will run for office or become grassroots leaders and organize our communities to hold our public officials accountable for their role in the fire.

The fire can be controlled. But, it’s going to take all of us to contain it and eliminate it, including you. Once we put out the fire, we can put a squad in place to ensure the fire does not rekindle and start another fire. 

I do want to warn you, this will be no easy task. It could take weeks, months, maybe even years to put it out. But, I am confident that with enough people power, not even the wildest fire can persist. 

I want to personally ask you to join me in putting out the fire. We don’t have much time left, this is an urgent request. There are no age, race or gender requirements to join me in battling the blaze. Your community needs you. I need you. Please email me at ChamaStLouis@gmail.com or message the Black Justice Project on facebook and I will give you next steps. I will be awaiting your timely response.

In Solidarity,

Chama