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Resource ID: #25584
Subject: Public Safety
Source: KMOV (St. Louis, MO)
Affiliation: 
Date: 08/28/2012; 09/01/2012

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Description

The hour-long documentary War Zone: The Destruction of an All-American City takes an unprecedented look at the impact of corruption on the East St. Louis, Illinois area, one of the poorest and most violent communities in America. The program was broadcast twice during prime time; Tuesday night at 8 pm on August 28, and the following Saturday night at 7 pm. This project was the result of an ongoing decade-long probe of government waste, corruption, police misconduct, and violence in East St. Louis and the surrounding villages by investigative reporter Craig Cheatham. Our documentary begins with a detailed look at police misconduct and corruption, how it has contributed to the breakdown of public safety in the East St. Louis area, and why local politicians tolerated such outrageous behavior by their officers. The second part of our documentary focuses on the impact of derelict and vacant housing, the slumlords who own the property and the people who live in some of the worst housing in the metro area. Our investigation also uncovered new connections between politicians and legendary slumlord Ed Sieron, who was business partners with a longtime mayor. In addition, KMOV revealed that of the 500 mostly rundown properties that Sieron owns in East St. Louis, only 13 were cited for code violations. That lack of accountability for the notorious slumlord, empowered him and made the people living in his homes feel powerless. War Zone also exposes the way East St. Louis communities have sold their economy to vice-driven businesses like strip clubs, liquor stores, a casino, and convenience marts that had a long history of selling illegal synthetic drugs. Our investigation found that nearly all of these businesses failed to employ a significant number of East St. Louis residents, even though they received millions of dollars in tax incentives that are paid by East St. Louis residents. At the same time East St. Louis is handing out tax breaks to wealthy out-of-town businessmen, it repeatedly refused to provide the same tax incentives for local residents who wanted to create family friendly businesses that would employ people living in the East St. Louis area.

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