Today, St. Louis community members, including Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE), pressured the St. Louis Development Corporation (SLDC) to give its development dollars to creating green jobs for St. Louis, instead of Big Coal and Big Developers.
Exemplifying the desired outcome from the action, a false Patrick Bannister from the St.Louis Local Development Corporation presented a $500,000 forgivable loan to a group of unemployed St. Louisans for the creation of sustainable jobs. Currently, the $500,000 forgivable loan is set to go to Peabody Coal for “office renovations.” In 2010, Peabody Coal received a tax break from the SLDC on $61 million of purchases, including $2 million from the St. Louis public schools.
“As a mother and grandmother of kids in the St. Louis Public Schools, I am appalled that SLDC helped Peabody avoid paying their fair of school taxes and now, they are getting another forgivable loan. When and where does it end?”, said Dell Breeland from MORE.
Though the SLDC’s mission statement is to “improve the quality of life” for people in St. Louis, protesters contend that the SLDC is actually harming the community by giving money to big corporations because the money is not reaching the people in St. Louis that need jobs the most.
“We are here to push the SLDC to put money into the community and help the environment instead of giving billionaires tax breaks and incentives to dirty energy. We need sustainable development and green jobs for people in our communities,” said Reginald Rounds, a member of MORE who went inside to speak with a representative from the SLDC.
When he went inside, however, the representative said that she was not interested in talking, nor would she set up a meeting between anyone from the SLDC and the group outside. Police kept protesters from stepping on to the SLDC property, which is actually owned by the city of St. Louis and is public land.
Part of the “Post-Peabody St. Louis” Week of Action, this action shows how the SLDC props up Peabody by giving the corporation massive tax breaks at the expense of our communities.
This is the third action of the ‘“Post-Peabody St. Louis” Week of Action. Yesterday morning, activists unfurled a banner reading “Dirty Coal = Dirty Money” over a Peabody Coal and United Way billboard between the Vandeventer and Kingshighway exits on highway I64/40. The billboard originally read “Helping people. Peabody + the United Way.” Activists say a charitable organization dedicated to “helping people” has no business helping Peabody cover up its dirty work.
Yesterday afternoon, student activists at Washington University marched on their campus, demanding that Peabody CEO Greg Boyce be removed from the school’s Board of Trustees and the school’s “Consortium for Clean Coal” be renamed to reflect the reality that coal can never be truly clean.