After serving in the US Army and returning home to St. Louis, Thomas Baker was the target of overpolicing and racial profiling at every turn. He found himself trapped in a web of municipal tickets and warrants that put his family in financial peril and cost him thousands of dollars. “All of my money was going into the court system. You try to turn your life around but you have all the cards in the deck stacked against you,” said Thomas. He lost jobs because he had to make multiple court appearances. His marriage was strained by the burden of paying hundreds of dollars a week in excessive court fines, and he was illegally jailed in modern-day debtors’ prisons when he couldn’t keep up with payments.
ACD cleared all his warrants and helped reduce his fines, which enabled him to finish college and launch a successful career in tech. While we celebrate this good news, our struggle for justice continues. Since 2016, Thomas has been a lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit against Florissant, and we still are fighting for Thomas and the thousands of people harmed by this city.
Rob Shaw has diabetes and was living in shelters around St. Louis for years when he came into contact with ACD. “Sometimes I think [the City] tries to sweep the homeless somewhere where they can’t be seen.” Over a period of several months, ACD helped Rob find a home, healthcare, and job opportunities. “When they (ACD) say they’re going to do something, they do it. I’m slowly climbing out of that bottomless pit . . . not knowing where I was gonna go to find a place that’s warm during the winter and in the rain and sometimes killing time by riding on the bus. Now I’ve got my own place. I’ve got health insurance. It’s a slow progression, but I’m finally climbing out of it.”
While driving with her four young children in Oklahoma, Inez Bordeaux was stopped for speeding and jailed for 30 days without knowing the charges. Inez survived a 5-year battle with the State of Missouri, and a 30 day stay in the hellish Workhouse jail, which she says changed her life forever–the inedible food, the weight loss, the rats, the time spent without showers. “It feels like despair and hopelessness… emotionally, spiritually, I’ll never be the same.” Ultimately, the charges against her were vacated and Inez joined the Close the Workhouse campaign as a firebrand organizer. These days, Inez is developing ACD’s community partnerships and organizing capacity as ACD’s first Manager of Community Collaborations.