August 21, 2014 by William Hennessy
Why St. Louis Tea Party Went to Ferguson To Shop
You can’t change the world in your living room.
That’s why a small band of (mostly) white people from (mostly) West County drove to Ferguson (and Dellwood) to shop tonight.
We targeted the small businesses that were hit hard by violence–violence committed (mostly) by out of town agitators, criminals, vandals, and hooligans.
We drove to Ferguson to make two statements with our actons: 1) Ferguson is OUR community, and 2) Ferguson is open for business.
I met Dellena. Dellena owns the 911 Beauty Salon on West Florissant in Dellwood. Her landlord got foreclosed on, which meant she lost her home, just before the riots. So she moved all her inventory from her house to the store. Then the riots happened, and they took her inventory.
God bless Dellena.
I insisted on buying something–all the people in the salon were so happy and kind. She didn’t have much for white guy gray hair, but she took the time to pull together some gift bags. Then she didn’t want money, but I made her take it.
A gentlman (my age) in the salon (husband?) asked who we were with. I told him “St. Louis Tea Party.”
“Tea party?” he said. “You bad boys,” and chuckled. Then he looked at me, very serious. He said, “The tea party came up here to do this?”
“Oh, yeah,” I said. “we don’t want to see Ferguson go south.”
He laughed. And he looked at me. Then he was quiet, lost in thought for a minute. When he came out of it, he was like our best friend. Laughing, giving us crap about stuff, telling stories. He admitted baseball can be like “watching grass grow.”
In that moment of reflection, I’m sure he was trying to reconcile “tea party” with what he was seeing–four white people, ages 18 to 50, laughing, spending money, empathizing.
That moment made the whole event worthwhile.
In other shops, we’d get hard stares when we walked in and shopped. Once we told them “we’re with the tea party, and we’re here to shop,” these people actually shouted. “Thank you, thank you, thank you so much.”
The greatest statement an organization or person can make is to say with actions, not words, “what unites us is stronger than what divides us.”
This wasn’t a big win in breadth, but it was monumental in depth.
I don’t know, yet, how much money we spent. I don’t even know how many people participated, but it looks like about 40. It was the hottest day of the year (so far). And it was an area that’s now known for rioting.
But the Ferguson Buycott was more successful than I could have dreamed.
I have much more to say, but had to say this much before going to bed.
Why did we go to Ferguson? Because Ferguson ain’t goin’ anywhere.
Next Buycott is Labor Day Weekend. Ask your Missouri State Rep and Senator to pass emergency legislation for a Ferguson Sales Tax Holiday during the veto session.
Very special thanks to my friend Marty Bennett who was one of the first to put his boot down in Florissant tonight–and the last to lift his boot from W. Florissant. God bless you, Marty.
Thanks, too, to Dottie Bailey, the best PR specialist and getaway driver St. Louis Tea Party could ask for.
Ben Evans, who join the movement on September 12, 2009, in Quincy, Illinois, continues to make himself indispensible.
And Alex Cohen. He’s like 18. America’s future is cool if Alex is any indication of the Millennials.
Everyone who came to Florissant tonight, thank you, thank you, thank you. Include Senator Claire McCaskill who magnanimously join the St. Louis Tea Party Coalition’s BUYcott of Ferguson. Here’s the video.