St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson angered civil rights activists once again by turning up at this year’s Veiled Prophet Ball. The secretive 135-year-old Veiled Prophet’s members hail from the city’s business, societal, and political elites, and they claim to be a civic and philanthropic organization. And of course, they didn’t allow Jews or blacks to be members or attend events (though — despite all the white people shown in photo albums of the event — that is technically no longer true).
Needless to say, invitations to Veiled Prophet’s yearly ball are hard to come by.
Veiled Prophet also hosts a Mardi-Gras-like parade each year for the public, yet the group has darker origins and many link it to the Ku Klux Klan. It’s hard not to link the Veiled Prophets to the Ku Klux Klan, given the design of their original symbol from 1878 (shown below). The illustration depicts a masked man in a white robe and pointy white hat, holding a pistol and a shotgun, with another weapon in his belt, and a second shotgun close at hand. The photos to the right and left show St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson participating in Veiled Prophet’s festivities.
America’s REAL police problem.
So how does the above image reveal the big problem with St. Louis’ police force and our nation’s police in general? Because it shows how police — who get paid with our tax dollars and are supposed to protect all of us — really only serve the mostly-white upper classes and people in power. Have police in Ferguson, St. Louis, Oakland, or New York City done anything to protect people of color or people who lawfully protest police brutality and racial profiling? Of course not.
Whose side were police on during the Civil Rights movement and anti-war movement of the 1960’s? Whose side have police taken over and over again when our nation’s workers have demanded fair pay and safe working conditions throughout the history of the labor movement, past to present? Whose side did police take with the Occupy Wall Street campers at Zuccotti Park? Who turned their backs on their own mayor while he was giving a eulogy for one of NYPD’s fallen?
Who responds to #BlackLivesMatter with #BlueLivesMatter instead of #AllLivesMatter?
Dotson’s outlook is so skewed in favor of his city’s elite, he can’t even see why so many of the people he’s sworn to protect find the Veiled Prophet Ball so offensive. If Dotson had any sort of empathy, common sense, raw cunning, or even a decent publicist, he would have gone somewhere else that night, or at least made sure no one photographed him.
But what about good cops, you might ask? Sure, we’ve got good cops. This writer knows some personally, but the nationally-known examples who come to mind right now are: Ferguson’s own Terrence Williams, the 23-year-old black man and cop-to-be, who lead efforts to clean up after the riots and calls for healing; and the recently slain NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos, a gentle, deeply religious family man with a reputation for kindness, and who saw his work in the streets as a ministry for God.
But even the kindest, most colorblind cops with the most idealistic intentions are bound to hit a wall when they realize that their real job is to uphold a system designed to discriminate against people of color, and to provide cheap slave labor to business owners. Because, as scholars like Noam Chomsky and Imara Jones have often said, the so-called American Dream is built on the backs of slaves. While blacks have historically been America’s preferred slaves, European indentured servants, women, Chinese “coolies,” poor whites, and undocumented Central Americans with no legal rights will do in a pinch.
Oh, and now we have our so-called “War on Drugs” and America’s increasingly pervasive school-to-prison pipeline designed to create captive slave labor for the privatized prison industry, which contracts workers out to corporations for as little as 25 cents per hour.
In St. Louis, Veiled Prophet represents racism and oppression.
For civil rights and labor activists, Veiled Prophet stands as a symbol of St. Louis’ powerful elite, which has long used any means necessary — including Ku Klux Klan-led terror and lynchings — to block the civil rights and labor movements. When Dotson attended the Ball, he showed us who’s side he’s really on.
And in case you think the Ku Klux Klan is a thing of the past, let us remind you of how they threatened to use “lethal force” against Ferguson protesters this November.
Facebook user Lea Jones angrily posted a photo with Police Chief Sam Dotson and Area Engineer for the Missouri Dept. of Transportation Deanna Venker shortly after the Veiled Prophet Ball with the following comment:
An annual KKK (no exaggeration) celebration took place this past Saturday, 12/20/14, in St. Louis, MO called the Veiled Prophet. Chief Sam Dotson was there
Meanwhile liza and others were busy outing Dotson for attending the Veiled Prophet Ball on Twitter:
“Whoa,” you might say. “Isn’t comparing the Veiled Prophet Ball to the KKK a bit over the top?” Perhaps. But — as reported by Anomaly100 from Liberal Land when Anonymous unmasked Ku Klux Klan members the group threatened protesters — the Klan is alive and well in St. Louis, and people with ties to police and the pro-Darren Wilson protests were revealed as Ku Klux Klan members.
And, the KKK is just one of many secretive “fraternal” organizations that foment hate, racism, and terror in the US. No wonder folks in the black community — and their white sympathizers — don’t take kindly to a shadowy, elitist group like Veiled Prophet. Veiled Prophet may not be linked to the Ku Klux Klan — as many claim — but the group has historically embraced the same racism and twisted values that cause tensions and unrest to this very day.
Veiled Prophet’s dark history.
The Atlantic reports the Veiled Prophet Parade was launched in 1878 by former Confederate cavalryman Charles Slayback and St. Louis’ civic and business leaders. They partly wanted to flaunt their wealth to thumb their noses at their northern rival city, Chicago. But the annual parade also served as a show of power to smack down those pesky trade unions. Less than a year before, workers across the US literally brought our nation’s business to a screeching halt with the Grand Railroad Strike of 1877. To make matters worse, these trade unions had black and white laborers working together to further their mutual economic interests, and we can’t have that.
Here’s the video with St. Louis civil rights activist Percy Green’s overview of Veiled Prophet’s dark history of fomenting racism and busting unions. If his name sounds familiar, that’s because he’s the one who organized the dramatic unmasking of the man honored as 1972’s veiled Prophet. Activist Gena Scott actually slid down a cable, secret agent-style, to tear off the mask. The honoree turned out to be Tom K. Smith, then a VP at Monsanto.
Featured image: Composite with photos from a “Veiled Prophet” Twitter search