Jenny Simeone-Casas | St. Louis Public Radio

Jenny Simeone-Casas

Diversity Fellow

Jenny Simeone-Casas is a 2013 graduate of University of California Santa Cruz where she studied anthropology and modern literature. She comes to St. Louis Public Radio from the sleepy hills of Berkeley, California, where she landed after stints at Ms. Magazine, KQED's the California Report, and as editor-in-chief for a San Francisco civic tech company. As the newsroom's third Diversity Fellow, she covers race, access, culture, immigration, and power. 

Today is the first day of summer and that means it’s the start of the busy season for Lise Bernstein. As the president of Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice, Bernstein is working her organization’s campaign to distribute free gun locks all summer.

Since the Lock It For Love program began in the spring of 2015, more than 1,800 gun locks have been handed out across St. Louis and St. Louis County. Organizers try to pass out gun locks in St. Louis zip codes where the risk for youth violence is high. That’s according the St. Louis Regional Youth Violence Prevention Task Force Community Plan,  which was released in 2013.

Areli Muñoz Reyes, who is enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, attends St. Louis Community College at Forest Park and is studying to be a teacher
Jenny Simeone-Casas | St. Louis Public Radio

Young immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children, and received temporary Social Security numbers and work permits under an Obama-era program can keep their protections — for now.

 

Breaking a promise made on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump announced last week that he would extend the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, but hasn’t said for how long. Missouri is home to almost 4,000 DACA permit holders.

Maplewood city attorney Craig Biesterfeld and city manager Marty Corcoran look through the city code during a meeting with a reporter at Maplewood City Hall.
Jenny Simeone-Cases | St. Louis Public Radio

Nuisance ordinances have been commonplace across the U.S. for at least a century. They are used to crack down on everything from overgrown grass to large-scale drug dealing. In the city of Maplewood, that extends to excessive calls to the police.

Maplewood's nuisance ordinance, last updated in October 2006, is the subject of two lawsuits, which allege the policy and its enforcement are discriminatory. How the city handles nuisance complaints is hailed by some as a way to keep the community safe, and reviled by others who believe it’s a way to regulate residents’ behavior and push out people of color, people with disabilities and survivors of domestic violence.

Carla has started taking classes, hoping to make her children proud by becoming fluent in English over the next few years. St. Louis Public Radio has changed Carla’s name because she is an unauthorized immigrant. May 2017.
Jenny Simeone-Cases | St. Louis Public Radio

Insurance coverage, transportation, child care and work schedules can all stand in the way of a person’s access to mental health services.

For some St. Louis residents, language is the biggest obstacle, because only a handful of organizations in the region offer services in languages other than English — and demand is growing.

Peggy Hubbard breaks up a small scuffle between demonstrators over whether a Black Lives Matter sign could be placed in the arm of the soldier on the statue on Tuesday, May 30, 2017.
Jenny Simeone-Cases | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated May 31 with information on aldermanic hearing — St. Louis’ parks committee weighed in Wednesday on the controversy surrounding the memorial to Confederate soldiers in Forest Park.

The first in a series of hearings on a bill sponsored by Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward, came the day after those for and against keeping the monument in its current location held simultaneous protests.

The Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis is the largest local branch of any other Urban League in the country.
Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

When Sheila Beckham’s house was leaking heat last winter, she thought back to when her great-grandfather repaired his home.

“I remembered that the Urban League came and fixed his doors and the windows, and they were still in the same place, so I figured they could help me too,” said Beckham, a lifelong St. Louis resident. “They came to my house and helped me with my windows and doors too, got me a water heater and a furnace.”

Sue Spencer surveys what remains of her home on County Road 806 in Perryville. A tornado tore through the area in late February, destroying the home she lived in for three decades.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The sirens started a little before 8 p.m. on the last night of February. Residents of Perry County, in southeastern Missouri,  retreated to their basements — many of them not expecting the incoming tornado with a 14-mile-long and half-mile-wide path. Within an hour, the tornado had killed one man, damaged more than 100 homes and leveled dozens more.  

Three months later, there are signs that rebuilding is underway. Structures now stand where fallen trees, busted up car frames, and mangled bits of homes were scattered before. Perryville’s residents are recovering, hiring contractors, negotiating with insurance companies, and even managing the aftermath of severe flooding in April.

Samantha Jenkins was incarcerated for 67 days, unable to afford her own bail. In that time she lost both her jobs and housing.
Provided | ArchCity Defenders

Updated May 15 with ongoing fundraising — The creators of #BlackMamaBailoutSTL — Arch City Defenders, the St. Louis Action Council, and Decarcerate St. Louis — want to continue helping the women they bailed out long past Mother's Day.

Revelers crowd Cherokee Street at a Cinco de Mayo celebration in 2016.
Paul Sableman | Flickr

“It was the wildest Cinco de Mayo party I have ever experienced,” recalled Angel Jimenez-Gutierrez remembering his first May 5 in Missouri.

It was 2002 and he was working at a Mexican restaurant in Rock Hill. Jimenez-Gutierrez had just moved to the United States from Mexico where Cinco de Mayo has never been widely celebrated.

Erika and her daughter, Alison, sit on the porch of their St. Louis home. Potraits of the two will be featured in Saturday's exhibit.
Lindy Drew | Humans of St. Louis

Advocates from the Migrant and Immigrant Community Action Project normally help St. Louis clients navigate the complex U.S. immigration system. But this weekend, their efforts will take on a more artistic bent.

“We’ve always wanted to be able to portray our clients as really full, well-rounded people,” explained Jessica Mayo, attorney and co-director at the MICA project. “As more than just their immigration story.”

Mexican immigrants participating in English and Citizenship classes for new immigrants organized by the YMCA Industrial Commission. There was additional programming, like, apparently this trip to Forest Park.
State Historical Society of Missouri

Fewer than 4 percent of St. Louis city and county residents are Latino. While the Midwest as a whole has a reputation for very small Latino populations, St. Louis County Historian Daniel Gonzales says it wasn’t always on track to be that way.

Gonzales has been focused on uncovering forgotten narratives since he started his job about a year and half ago. One such story is the subject of an academic publication he's working on. It relates to the 19th and 20th century Mexican immigration to St. Louis, how the community was encouraged to blossom, and then pushed out.

Rici Hoffarth / St. Louis Public Radio

For the first time in 16 years, St. Louis is welcoming a new mayor into office.

The shift in power from Francis Slay to Lyda Krewson led Curious Louis participant and St. Louis native, Whitney Panneton to ask St. Louis Public Radio: What exactly does the mayor do?

Moments after recieving the keys to his new apartment, Nicholas Palazzolo checks out the living room and balcony.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Nicholas Palazzolo has been living in his truck since late November last year. At age 73, spending the coldest months of the year in a vehicle isn’t easy — but Palazzolo keeps his situation in perspective.

“I had it easy by comparison,” said Palazzolo. “There are others that are going through some pretty horrific times for an infinite variety of reasons.”

Firefighters work outside of the Loy-Lange Box Company building on South 3rd Street. (April 3, 2017)
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:25 a.m. April 6 with confirmation of fourth death — The death toll has risen from this week's boiler explosion at a factory in the Soulard neighborhood.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department said Clifford Lee, 53, died on Wednesday. Lee was inside the Faultless Linen Company when a piece of the boiler that exploded at the Loy-Lange Box Company crashed through the roof.

Screenshot from security camera video / St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office

Updated at 4:35 p.m. March 13 with comment from Ferguson police chief, attorney for convenience store and security footage — A security video made public over the weekend that shows Michael Brown at a Ferguson convenience store about a half-day before his death was a "poorly edited snippet" of something that was deemed "not relevant" to the grand jury investigation, the St. Louis County prosecutor said Monday.

Rep. Jean Evans
Tim Bommel I House Communications

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jenny Simeone welcome state Rep. Jean Evans to the program.

The Manchester Republican is serving her first term in the Missouri House. She represents the 99th state House District, which takes in Manchester, Valley Park and Twin Oaks.

Hundreds of demonstrat0rs gathered in downtown St. Louis to express their disgust, concern and fear with President-elect Donald Trump on Nov. 13, 2016.
File | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis, like many parts of the United States, has seen an uptick in marches and protests since President Donald Trump took office.

In late January, thousands took to the streets for the St. Louis women’s march. Many of those participants have also been a part of demonstrations calling for immigrants’ rights and protections for the LGBTQ community.

Priscilla Dowden-White is a history professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis who studies civic activism in the 20th century. She says movements of the early to mid 20th century are rife with lessons for today’s protesters — but that comparing the two too closely can be reductive.

Carrie Tripp, with the Perry County School District, spent Wednesday helping residents clean their damaged homes. (March, 1, 2017)
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4 p.m., March 1, 2017 — Residents of Perryville, Mo., are recovering from a tornado that ripped through the town late Tuesday, killing one man and damaging more than 100 homes.

Many homes in the community about 90 miles south of St. Louis were left only with a foundation, Perryville Fire Chief Jeremy Triller said.

Among those who lost their homes to the tornado was Lisa Ervin, who works at the Subway in Marble Hill, Mo. Her A-frame house was destroyed.

“It’s no longer there,” she said. “Our attic is over there in our neighbor’s yard.”

Donald Brewer starts raking trash on 7th Boulevard just after sunset on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Mardi Gras crowd was thinning out, and drunk revelers zigzagged in the middle of the street, kicking cans and shivering in the 35-degree weather. As they left the big party, Donald Antonio Brewer meticulously raked bits of confetti, beads, and plastic cups from the median onto Seventh Street for the street sweepers to catch later that Saturday night.

Stakeholders attend a New American Alliance community meeting to discuss ways to better serve and connect with new immigrants to St. Louis.
Jacquelyn Ballard | New American Alliance

Recent immigrants to St. Louis have a new resource they can tap when adjusting to life in the United States.

The New American Alliance is a referral system for immigrants and refugees that started to take shape this past summer.

For example, if a recent refugee needs help finding a job, access to healthcare, or an affordable place to live, the Alliance reviews their situation and connects them to an organization that can help.

Protesters gathered in downtown Clayton in February 2017 to show soldarity with immigrants and refugees following the announcement of President Trump's executive orders.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The Department of Homeland Security’s latest announcement on the Trump administration’s immigration policies have alarmed local immigrants and their advocates.

In two memos released Tuesday, the department expanded the scope of immigration raids, undermined sanctuary areas and called on local law enforcement to help with federal immigration enforcement.

St. Louis immigration lawyer Jim Hacking said his office phone lines have been busy since the announcement, with clients unsure of how to move forward.

“People are really and utterly freaked out,” he said. “They’re wondering if they should carry their papers on them, they’re wondering what they should do, they want to have a lawyer on speed dial. Frankly, people are scared.”

Alderman Antonio French, January 2017
David Kovaluk I St. Louis Public Radio

On this episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Jenny Simeone and Rachel Lippmann welcome Alderman Antonio French to show for the first time.

The 21st Ward alderman is one of seven Democratic candidates running to succeed St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay. 

The St. Louis research team for Mobilizing Millions. From left to right: Debadatta Chakraborty, Neeraja Kolloju, Kristen Barber, Debaleena Ghosh and Trisha Crawshaw. All five work with the Sociology Department at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale.
Provided | Kristen Barber | SIUC

Did you attend the Women’s March on St. Louis? An Illinois professor and her team of graduate students want to hear about your experience.

The Mobilizing Millions study, based at the University of California, Santa Barbara, aims to identify what motivated people to turn out en masse across the nation and around the globe.

“So many people are participating in politics who maybe have never participated before,” said Kristen Barber a sociology professor at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, who is part of the research team. “So, the questions really revolve around how this engagement might impact the size of future protests and participation.”

Alderman Jeffrey Boyd, January 2017
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On this edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum, Rachel Lippmann and Jenny Simeone welcome St. Louis Alderman Jeffrey Boyd to the program for the first time.

Boyd is one of seven Democratic candidates vying to succeed Francis Slay and become St. Louis’ next mayor. 

Jay Kanzler, the Almuttan family’s attorney for years, paces in front of Country Club Hills' empty city hall building. He says the city's mayor has been targeting the Almuttans for years.
Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

A Muslim man has filed a lawsuit against the city of County Club Hills, Mayor Bender McKinney and three aldermen, claiming that they discriminated against him.

In a suit filed last week in St. Louis County Circuit Court, Mohammed Almuttan, who is Palestinian,  claims he was denied a business license for a laundromat based on his nationality and religion.  He and his family, their attorney, and the Missouri chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations have called for McKinney's resignation.

A crowd packs Luther Ely Smith Square after the St. Louis Women's March, Jan.21, 2017.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Organizers of last month's Women’s March on St. Louis are encouraging its thousands of participants to channel their energy into activism.

They hope to keep the momentum going through community meetings planned for March that will include strategy sessions on education, criminal justice, access to reproductive health care and other issues. The topics will be chosen from threads on a Facebook page for the marchers called DefendHERS. It shares its name with the non-partisan organization started by the women behind the march.

Bac Le, 70, picks up his grandson after studying for his citizenship test with a tutor from Bilingual International Assistant Services. Le moved to St. Louis from Vietnam to be near his children.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Between learning U.S. civics and history to acing all four parts of the naturalization exam — passing the U.S. citizenship test is no walk in the park. For older immigrants who don’t speak English, the learning curve can be even steeper.

“Think about your own grandmother,” said Jason Baker, executive director with Bilingual International Assistant Services. “Imagine her trying to learn a completely foreign language at an advanced age. And then in that foreign language learn about the Federalist Papers and be able to produce it on command. Some grandmothers will be able to do it. Others will not. Mine certainly couldn’t.”

Areli Muñoz Reyes, who is enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, attends St. Louis Community College at Forest Park.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

For the past two years Missouri legislators in Jefferson City have sent a strong message to undocumented students in the region: you can go to college in Missouri, but we won’t make it easy.

That's what it looks like, at least, to Areli Muñoz Reyes a student  St. Louis Community College at Forest Park who started in the fall of 2015. Already worried about what will happen to undocumented students under the administration of Donald Trump, she’s also facing steep tuition rates without the state-funded scholarship she worked hard for.

In July 2016, black organizers with the St. Louis Action council hosted a protest against police brutality and systemic inequality in the region and across the nation. This Saturday, the Women's March on St. Louis will walk through the same streets.
File Photo | Jenny Simeone | St. Louis Public Radio

This weekend, hundreds of thousands plan to gather for the Women's March on Washington. Expected to be one of the largest demonstrations in American history, the march aims to send President-elect Donald Trump a message on his first day in office: women will not be ignored or disrespected.

More than 3,000 people who can't make it to the national march Saturday plan to join a local march through the streets of downtown St. Louis. While this local march is in solidarity with the national effort, for some participants, it's been hard to find solidarity. 

In the weeks leading up to St. Louis' march, white organizers have fielded complaints that they’ve marginalized women of color and transgender women. Although the march aims to unite all women in a fight for their rights under a Trump presidency, many critics have vowed not to participate in an event they say is exclusionary.

Karen Aroesty is the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

In the weeks after the presidential election, the Southern Poverty Law Center collected reports of more than 1,000 hate-related incidents from across the United States. Fifteen of those incidents happened in Missouri. In the St. Louis region, local reports detailed verbal taunts and harassment based on the victim’s perceived race or religion. Many people might conflate hate incidents with hate crimes, but most reports following Nov.

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