Category Archives: Ferguson Michael Brown

Throwback Thursday: Ferguson Troubles Began in Garden

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Three years ago today, I shared news about a man in Ferguson, Mo., — yes, the same town where the Michael Brown incident took place in August 2014 — who was fighting for the right to grow food in his garden without first obtaining permission from the city. Below I share that story again, along with an update and some observations.

Karl Tricamo received a citation for gardening without permission.

On April 23, 2012, Karl Tricamo received a citation from the city of Ferguson, Mo., for gardening without permission.

During World War I and World War II, it was considered one’s patriotic duty to plant a “victory garden” in order to reduce food costs.  Doing such a thing today, however, could result in one man having to pay a hefty fine or worse if officials in the backward city of Ferguson, Mo., get their way.

According to a news release from Dave Roland at the Freedom Center of Missouri, Karl Tricamo never imagined that it would be especially controversial when he decided to plant a garden in his yard in order to secure cheap, nutritious, organic produce for his family.  Just to be sure, however, he looked up all of the relevant ordinances in the city just north of St. Louis and confirmed that he would not be violating any laws.

Tricamo found that nothing in the ordinances prohibit citizens from growing healthy, organic produce on one’s property.  In fact, the city’s zoning ordinances specifically allow residents to cultivate community gardens and urban agricultural uses in residential areas.

Because he planted the garden in front of his house instead of behind it, Ferguson city officials soon began to pester Tricamo, going so far as suggesting that his garden was illegal.  Roland described the chain of events that followed:

In March, shortly after he had tilled the garden in preparation for planting, the city sent a letter commanding that the yard be covered in straw and planted with grass seed – even though nothing in the city ordinances requires yards to be planted with grass or prohibits the planting of a garden on residential property.

Six weeks later city officials sent another letter demanding the removal of the vegetables from his yard because the property was not zoned for “agricultural” use, but of course the relevant section of Ferguson’s zoning ordinances explicitly allows gardens to be grown in residential areas.  Then the City sent Mr. Tricamo a notice (below) alleging a violation of Ferguson ordinance number 7-133 – but that ordinance addresses the structural elements of residential buildings such as foundations, walls, windows and doors, stairways, chimneys, gutters, roofs, and buildings’ exterior surfaces.  It says nothing about yards.

When Mr. Tricamo confronted the City about this violation notice, they rapidly backtracked and claimed that it had been sent by accident!  The City said he should disregard the notice, but have continued to insist that Tricamo’s garden is illegal.

According to Roland, this situation illustrates a common practice among some city officials; when all else fails in their attempt to control citizens’ behavior, they sometimes just make stuff up.

UPDATE: Barely three weeks after publishing the article above, I received another news release from Roland. Dated July 26, 2012, it contained the paragraph below which summed up the outcome of the case:

The Board of Adjustment took up the matter on Wednesday evening and heard arguments from the City, Mr. Roland, Mr. Tricamo, and several members of the community. In addition to the legal arguments that the Freedom Center advanced, the testimony pointed out the growing movement in favor of organic, locally-grown produce and the well-documented challenges that low-income families face in finding reasonably priced vegetables in grocery stores. In the end, four of the five members of the Board of Adjustment agreed that Ferguson’s zoning laws do not prohibit citizens from growing gardens in residential areas. Ferguson’s residents are free to grow vegetables in their yards as long as they are not violating a specific ordinance or endangering the public health or safety.

In light of events that put Ferguson on the world map for all the wrong reasons some 25 months later, I suspect many city residents and officials wish this gardening fiasco had been the worst of their troubles.

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Municipal Court Judge Did Damage Beyond Ferguson

An article about the Justice Department’s report on the Ferguson Police Department caught my attention today, but not for the anti-police propaganda it contains. Instead, I was attracted to the message in it’s headline, A Wholesale Failure of Missouri Judges. Why? Because I’ve been aware of that failure for years. 

Of course, the “failure” message doesn’t apply to all judges, but it does apply to Judge Ronald Brockmeyer, the municipal court judge highlighted in the wholesale failure article whose name first appeared on my radar four years ago.

On Jan. 15, 2011, Breitbart.com published my piece about an 85-Year-Old ‘Potato Lady’ Running for Office. In it, I highlighted Dolores Sherman’s reasons for running for office in St. Peters, Mo., the St. Louis suburb in which she says she was prosecuted more than five years earlier for a crime she did not commit and, in turn, was dubbed, “The Potato Lady.”

During a mid-afternoon news conference after she had filed for office, Sherman detailed her belief that St. Peters city officials were involved in her unfair prosecution and other events leading to it and need to be replaced. The bulk of the article appears below:

“I want to make people aware of what happened to me for an incident that should have never occurred,” Sherman said. “I was railroaded!

“They accused me of throwing a red potato, and I said, ‘I don’t have red potatoes, I have Idaho, six inches, baking potatoes,’” she continued, recalling a conversation she had Sept. 24, 2004, with two St. Peters police officers who had responded her home after receiving a complaint phoned in by one of Sherman’s neighbors in the suburb 20 miles west of St. Louis. “But they gave me a citation — a peace disturbance, then the city prosecuted me.

“Why does a city, more or less, sue an 80-year-old lady for something they probably knew I did not commit?” she asked rhetorically before comparing St. Peters to a much-larger city.

“If you think Chicago is the only pay-and-play arena, huh-uh,” she said before pointing to tables in front of her and around the room that were covered with stacks of documents she said prove her case. “And if you don’t believe it, just look.”

On March 29, 2005, St. Peters Municipal Court Judge Ronald Brockmeyer ordered Sherman to serve 12 months probation, pay a $125.07 probation fee and pay hundreds more for an anger management class, she explained.

The election for aldermen seats is set for April 5. By then, residents of Ward One should be familiar with Sherman’s tongue-in-cheek campaign slogan: “This spud’s for you!”

Did you notice the name in the next to the last paragraph above? Ronald Brockmeyer. He’s been at this game for a long time, and I agree with writer Andrew Cohen when he writes the following:

Every judge in Missouri, the ones who actively deprived residents of their constitutional rights and the ones who passively allowed it to occur, is complicit in a conspiracy of injustice that cannot be countenanced in a nation that purports to operate under a rule of law.

Don’t even get me started about Missouri’s Family Court judges and the system in which they operate. I’ve written about them at Breitbart, too. For details, see Government Burning Family Tree at Both Ends and Missouri Dad Spends $100K (so far) Fighting to Save His Kids, about a case that continues without resolution to this day — four years later and at a cost of more than $200,000 to pay for no fewer than seven attorneys.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks in advance!

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Army Special Forces Veteran Shares Something in Common With North Saint Louis County Residents Facing Fines

To those people who think it’s a stretch to compare turmoil in the lives of residents in and around Ferguson, Mo., to the turmoil that has permeated the life of a former Army Special Forces Soldier, I say, “YOU”RE WRONG!” Below, I explain why.

For many in North St. Louis County — an area that includes Ferguson, the town of 20,000 made famous by violent protests that followed the officer-involved shooting death of 18-year-old Mike Brown in August — anger has festered over an issue unrelated to Brown far longer than it has over the grand jury’s decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for killing Brown. The anger stems from being on the receiving end of warrants — in some municipalities, the average number was five warrants per year — one too many times. In some case, fines and court costs that result from appearing in municipal court to deal with those warrants total hundreds of dollars, according to Radley Balko’s Washington Post report published Sept. 3. That leaves those people facing difficult decisions.

If they miss work in order to make their court appearances, they risk being fired from their jobs. Conversely, if they make their court appearances and pay the fines associated with their infractions (i.e., speeding tickets, moving violations and other infractions), they risk not being able to pay their monthly bills and/or feed their families. In the town of Pine Lawn, for instance, Balko reports the fines total $1.8 miilion or around $576 per resident, an amount equal to 4.5 percent of an average resident’s annual income!

Some will argue that the individuals stopped by police in North St. Louis County deserve the tickets they receive, and I’m sure some do. At the same time, however, I empathize with those people — and I think it’s a large population — who, when faced with making the difficult choice between paying the monthly bills and using the same money to pay off city-issued fines imposed by overzealous law enforcement agencies, opt against paying the fines and court costs.

Fortunately, one Missouri legislator, Sen. Eric Schmitt recently introduced a municipal court reform measure in an effort to reign in overzealous municipalities who are currently allowed to bring in up to 30 percent of revenues through traffic tickets. If the measure becomes law, the income threshold will drop to 10 percent.

“Where does the former Green Beret fit into this equation?” you ask. Allow me to explain.

Kelly Stewart & Toby Keith

After spending several years behind bars at the U.S. Military Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., as part of the sentence imposed on him following a two-day military trial during which he was tried and convicted on sexual assault charges, Kelly A. Stewart served his time, finished his parole and was trying to live his life as best he can with a “sex offender” label hanging over him while he ekes out a living from a job that pays barely $10 an hour. That’s when the former Green Beret medic received a letter, informing him that he owes the Army approximately $27,000 and much begin paying it back at the rate of $700 per month.

Obviously, someone who spent his life savings defending himself in court against false rape and kidnapping allegations levied against him by a then-28-year-old German woman — and former mental patient — can’t possibly afford to make remuneration of $700 per month. So what does he do?

Should he fail to make payments to the Army, the equivalent of a Ferguson resident failing to appear in municipal court to answer for an outstanding warrant, he faces the likelihood of returning to federal prison. It’s a lose-lose proposition, and Stewart doesn’t have a state senator writing legislation on his behalf. Instead, he needs the American people to learn about his case and make conscious decisions to help — quickly!

To learn more about his case, order a copy of my first nonfiction book, Three Days In August (October 2011), in which I chronicle this highly-decorated combat veteran’s rough encounter with the military justice system.

For a snapshot of his situation and how you can help, read this letter and/or read my recent article, HELP: Former Green Beret Faces Possible Return to Prison! Thanks in advance!

UPDATE 4/19/2015 at 1:16 p.m. Central: Check out the limited-time free-books offer here.

If you like this article and my other efforts, please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  Thanks in advance!

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EXCLUSIVE: Hammers Attack Video From South St Louis

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Joel Currier’s article about a Bosnian immigrant being murdered by hammer-wielding teenagers fails to mention the possibility that at least some of the teens were black until deep into the article. Conversely, a video shot by a resident of South St. Louis’ Bevo Mill neighborhood reveals heretofore-unpublished details about what happened near the intersection of Gravois Avenue and Itaska Street before the attack that left Zemir Begic, 32, dead.

At the 45-second mark, the woman who recorded the video — whose name I will not share for reasons of her personal safety — says, “And, of course, it’s a white kid, right after black people running up and down the street saying, ‘Eff the white people, kill the white people.’ This is what we have.”

Coming amidst the protests that followed the grand jury’s decision not to indict now-former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, this attack could unleash a powder keg.

UPDATE 12/1/2014 at 1:13 p.m. Central:  The Gateway Pundit picked up the story.

UPDATE 12/1/2014 at 1:21 p.m. Central:  On the Facebook page of the woman who shot the video above, she tells a friend that “a Bosnian man was attacked last night by 4 black teens.”

UPDATE 12/2/2014 at 6:18 a.m. Central:  The video above has been viewed more than 80,500 times during the past 20-plus hours. The general public seems more interested in the truth than in what St. Louis officials say about the crime as highlighted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, Mayor, police say race played no role in hammer slaying of Bosnian immigrant.

UPDATE 12/3/2014 at 5:12 p.m. Central:  A new development has surfaced in the form of a report from the UK’s Daily Mail about the deadly attack by hammer-wielding teenagers Sunday that left a 32-year-old Bosnian immigrant dead in South St. Louis’ Bevo Mill neighborhood. Read about it here!

UPDATE 12/5/2014 at 7:55 a.m. Central:  The video above has been viewed more than 211,000 times in four days. To read other posts on this topic, click here.

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Ferguson Pizza Shop Owners Suffer Third Major Disaster — GoFundMe Account Established to Help Family Recover

If you read the KSDK.com story published this morning about an apparent arson fire that destroyed a Little Caesar’s Pizza in Ferguson, you know the fire came some three and a half years after the same building suffered severe damage caused by a tornado. But there’s more to this story that the St. Louis television news outlet did not report.

For Doyle and Joy Beck, owners of the long-established Ferguson business who also own a Little Caesars at 3100 Godfrey Road in Godfrey, Ill., the fire and tornado stand as Parts 1 and 3 of a real-life drama in which they never wanted starring roles. In between the twister and last night’s fire, Part 2 of their drama came ten months ago when their family home burned down. According to a local news report, a heat lamp that was providing warmth to the Becks’ two dogs, being kept in the family’s garage due to extremely cold weather, was blamed for sparking the blaze.

Though the Becks lost two dogs and a cat in the fire that destroyed their home, they and their four children have managed to escape injury each time disaster struck. Now, presumably, they face yet another decision about whether they will rebuild and/or reopen. Here’s to hoping they recover soon.

Attempts to reach the Beck family during this time were unsuccessful.

UPDATE Nov. 26, 2014, at 8:45 a.m. Central:  A GoFundMe Account has been set up to help the Beck family. Click here to donate.

UPDATE Nov. 26, 2014, at 2:15 p.m. Central:  Justin Beck, the son of Doyle and Joy Beck, is quoted in a USA TODAY article. Read it! You’ll like what he has to say.

UPDATE Nov. 26, 2014, at 6:19 p.m. Central:  The Wall Street Journal (subscription) is carrying the story.

UPDATE Nov. 29, 2014, at 7:31 a.m. Central:  When you read the latest update at the GoFundMe site, you’ll find out 13 employees — several of whom have small children — were affected by the loss of their store. Please help today!

UPDATE Dec. 1, 2014, at 8:15 p.m. Central:  You’ve contributed $4,447 as of this posting.  Thanks!

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