I’m not going to talk about Michael Brown’s guilt or innocence.
I’m not even going to talk about Darren Wilson’s guilt or innocence.
It’s all been debated, hashed out, and then debated again. And quite frankly, this is not the forum for that type of discussion.
What I am going to talk about are some of the short & long-term effects that violent acts of protest – including, but not limited to: burning, looting, vandalization, discharge of firearms, robbery, breaking & entering, fighting, any types of objects thrown at police – from an Accountant working in St. Louis, and a mother, living 2.5 miles away from Ferguson.
Last night, I, my husband, and my 13-month old daughter were forced to leave our home out of fear for our safety as acts of violence were committed by protesters near our house.
Last night, we anxiously awaited the official verdict on whether or not criminal charges would be filed again Darren Wilson, along with millions of other Americans, I’m sure. But before I got home from work yesterday, I knew what the verdict would be.
See, as I drove home from work at 4pm, heading from the west, back east towards my house, I shared the interstate with no less than 30 police cars from neighboring suburbs of St. Louis. All were heading towards Ferguson or Clayton. Even though I already had my own thoughts on what the verdict would be, those police cars I shared the road with yesterday afternoon confirmed my suspicions that Darren Wilson would not be indicted.
When I got home at 4:30 I told The Big Guy what I had seen and we talked about leaving then. Heading to his parents house about 45 minutes away, in Illinois, where we would be safe, and our little girl would get to see her grandparents. Ultimately, we decided against it, hoping (& praying) that protests would be peaceful. And if they weren’t,
At least there’s an interstate between Ferguson and our house, right?
A little before 8, we turned on the live chopper feed on our local news’ website. We watched the crowd as the news was broken that Officer Wilson would not be facing charges – and at first, protests were peaceful.
Then, abruptly, the feed cut out. We didn’t know it at the time, but that was because airspace had been restricted above St. Louis, and the chopper had to land, but when the feed cut out that caused us to go in search of new information.
From there, we turned to the St. Louis County Police Department’s Twitter Feed, KSDK’s Twitter feed, and listened to the St. Louis County PD’s police scanner online. We were monitoring where fires, break-ins and gunfire had been reported, figuring that if the violence started creeping our way, we would leave
And then we heard gunfire.
9 shots, to be exact.
We stayed put, though, knowing that if we were to leave we would have to drive through the madness to get out to my in-law’s house.
But as we monitored the police scanner and listened as looting, vandalism, fires, and even residential home invasions were creeping closer and closer we got nervous. About 11:30pm, looters broke into a house less than a mile from our, and I was done.
Hurriedly, we grabbed the bare minimum – the diaper bag, shoes, guns, and the dog – and got out.
And I’m so glad we did.
The drive out of Missouri not only ensure that we would all stay safe last night, but it gave me some time to put together my thoughts on what Ferguson means for St. Louis, and what it means for our family.
My Place of Business
The impact that the whole situation has on just my place of employment alone has already been profound – as well as twofold.
Short Term – My hotel is booked. For Weeks. I work at an airport property, so not only are we housing all one airlines crews (they wanted them consolidated to one hotel) any remaining rooms are being booked by news crews. Additionally, our meeting spaces are being rented by activist groups. Revenue looks good short-term.
Long Term – With the violence that has already happened in mind, many large companies have already taken St. Louis off the map for events happening 2-7 years from now. This means that as time goes on, those large companies have more and more time to hold meetings in other cities, develop a relationship with other sales people, making them even less likely to return to St. Louis. Additionally, our sales team is going into 2015 negotiations with the large companies we currently have holding events and rooming blocks at our property, and the violence makes our sales team have to give even more concessions in order to keep those contracts. Read = more revenue lost or given away just to keep the hotel full and people employed.
Short Term – for the next year or so, jobs aren’t going anywhere. In fact, there may be more than before the unrest. As Ferguson rebuilds, activist groups set up shop in STL, and reporters keep hotels especially in business. With all other places of business, both large and small, businesses cannot be picked up and moved to the city in much less than a year, but when looking at timelines greater than 1 year, the story is different:
Long Term – Long Term, however is as different ballgame. As I said earlier, huge corporations have taken St. Louis completely off the map for events, expansion, and are even thinking about moving their business elsewhere. This cannot be done quickly, but if businesses can enjoy lower insurance rates, happier employees, and a safer place to grow their business, their going to do it. This means jobs going away – and I’m talking good jobs, not fast food and serving jobs….And that means less money thrown into the St. Louis economy.
Home Prices/ Monthly Rent
Short Term – Short term, we won’t see much of a change in rent prices or home values. There may be a slight dip in rental prices as tenants can move cities much more quickly than homeowners.
Long Term – After one year has passed, though, I expect that home values will drop, as people realize that they should consider other cities, get their affairs in order (like putting their house on the market) and relocate. As the number of homes up for sales increases, home values will decrease. Concurrently, more houses (I expect) will be put up for rent as homeowners that relocated are unable to sell. As the supply of rentals increases, and the demand decreases, Monthly rent prices will decrease dramatically.
Rising Cost of Living
As conditions in St. Louis worsen, both economically and socially, the cost of living will rise. It will be imperceptible at first, but knowing how a free market economy works, it will rise. How does that happen? The first cost that struck me was insurance – both our homeowner’s and auto insurance are going to rise in the wake of this tragedy, and they’re already high.
As businesses close up shop and leave town, there will be less competition, enabling the remaining businesses to raise their prices without fear of retribution from their customers, because those customers have no place else to shop.
We’re Reconsidering St. Louis
In the wake of #ferguson, we’re reconsidering St. Louis and everything we love about it – the community-like feel, the low cost of living, the affordable activities, and the jobs – and thinking possibly about other cities.
As a Blogger
We had planned to rent out our current house when we moved in about 3 years, but now I am unsure about our plan for it. What we will do requires some deep thought, to be sure.
As a Professional
As the sole breadwinner for our family, and a woman whose career has been her main focus for the last 5 years, I now have to consider if St. Louis is really the best place for myself and our family. Do I want to “put all my eggs in the St. Louis basket” with regards to jobs, networks, and future opportunities?
Or do I want to start looking for other cities that have the same amenities, lifestyle, and cost of living as St. Louis does (did), and more job opportunities and slowly gear my experience and resume towards moving away from the St. Louis area?
I’m not going anywhere soon, but knowing what I now about how Ferguson will ruin the St. Louis economy, my time would be better spent looking elsewhere than staying here.
As a Mother
My final – and most important – priority in all of this is as a mother.
Last night, had it just bee my husband and I, we would have stayed put. We have guns, a dog, and a good security system, and we would have just hunkered down and ridden out the storm.
But when you throw kids in the mix everything changes.
Would we be able to protect our daughter in the event of home invasion – between the time that our security system dispatched police and the time that they got there?
Would we even want to s**t storm that would follow if we were to defend our home?
What about further down the line: Do we want her in schools (public or private) in an area that is doomed to slide further downhill in the coming years?
Do we want her to start to make friends in an area we know we will eventually be forced to leave if we do not make preparations now?
I want to hear your thought about what Ferguson means for the economy of St. Louis! Ya’ll have lots of opinions and experience than I do – what do you think?
My heart goes out to the Brown family, Officer Wilson’s family, and the entire Ferguson community. Losing a child, no matter his guilt is innocence, is beyond comprehension. With that being said, this is not the place to debate guilt or innocence, to spark an argument about race or police brutality. If you have an opinion and voice it respectfully, I welcome the dialogue. Any comments that contain profanity, racial slurs, or any other content deemed offensive or argumentative will be deleted at my sole discretion.
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I’m so sorry this has happened. I do believe it could happen anywhere.
This was truly insightful. I am disheartened to hear about all the lives that are affected by this social tragedy. I hope you are all able to come to a decision that will benefit you, the family, and your business.
Well, you can always move to Dallas! :) Unfortunately, it’s very sad people resort to violent protesting. In the end, it does more harm than good. People don’t think that the real people benefiting from protests will be the insurance companies and home improvement stores where the people will have to go and get money and supplies to fix up the damaged property. The little men loses again!
Tiffany White says
It’s heartbreaking to watch the footage of the everything going on in Ferguson. The fact that the family of Michael Brown wished for peaceful protest people resorted to violence and burning the American flag is absolutely disgusting. I can’t imagine what it must to be like to be living in that situation right now. I know I would be beyond frightened.
Kara @ The Daily Whisk says
So scary! I’m glad you’re safe.
Petrish Dyer says
The situation in Ferguson is horrific and the damage to the city and the people go so deep that I know its going to be very difficult for the city to come back from all this. I’m glad that your family is ok. I’m praying for the city, its people, and the officials to find a way to come back from all this madness. Stay safe.
This was such an interesting article to read. I am sure not many people would have thought about the long term, or even short term implications of such a terrifying protest. I cannot begin to think how sacred you must have been. Al the best with deciding what to do and coping with things the way they are now.
Michelle Schroeder says
Great post Gretchen. While we are not as close as you, we are a little less than 7 miles away from where it is all happening. I hope you and your family stay safe.
Kate @ The Beautiful Useful Project says
This is so scary, and I’m glad you guys are okay. I think St. Louis is in for some tough times for sure. If you do stay, your kids will always go to a school where racial tensions are especially high. But if you love it there, and it’s your home, you’ll find a way to make it work.
Great post Gretchen. So glad you were able to think of these things in the wake of a rough and scary night. Well written and very insightful.
Jayleen @ How Do The Jones Do It says
Wow. What an unsettling feeling. So sorry you even have to ask the questions about your future. Kids definitely change the situation. I was amazed that protesters were even active here, in Seattle.
Very well written. A scary situation indeed. I was a wreck waiting on the verdict. My daughter is in college in St. Louis and had a 3pm train to come home. She said protesters had blocked the main road by them & she was afraid to get on the Metrolink (and I don’t blame her). I’m glad you and your family are safe, but it’s a sad state of affairs that people think it is their right to get their voice heard that way. I love St. Louis and hope the city comes through this ok.
Nicole W. says
First of all my prayers goes out to both the Brown and the Wilson family. However I believe this violent protesting is becoming more and more senseless, as small business owners and individuals are experiencing loss and fear for their safety.
Michelle @ Dishes and Dust Bunnies says
Wow – such a scary situation. I would have done the same thing if I was in your position. It’s so unfortunate that violence like this has broken out in Ferguson and my heart goes out to all the people and businesses affected.
Melissa @ Sunburnt Saver says
Gretchen, great post. I have to say, I immediately thought about all the businesses that may potentially leave because of the rioting and unrest, and how that would tremendously and negatively affect the community. Personally, I wouldn’t stay there. There are many other cities that are affordable, have good schools, and frankly are safer.
Obviously, no city is perfect, but for all the reasons you outlined above, I would seriously consider moving elsewhere.