The McCloskeys Complained About “Ending Single-Family Home Zoning.” That’s a Racist Dog Whistle.

Zoning has been called “the new redlining.”

Mark and Patricia McCloskey point guns at protesters marching to St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's house in the Central West End of St. Louis at the end of June. Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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You could maybe infer how Mark and Patricia McCloskey felt about people of color when they pointed guns at unarmed demonstrators, many of them Black, who were outside of their home protesting racial injustice at the end of June.

The couple made their opinions a little bit more clear on Monday night during the Republican National Convention, during remarks filmed inside their St. Louis home. Patricia McCloskey railed against “ending single-family home zoning,” which would “bring crime, lawlessness and low-quality apartments into thriving suburban neighborhoods.”

“You saw what happened to us and it could just as easily happen to you watching from your quiet neighborhoods,” McCloskey reminded any pearl-clutching Republicans watching, referring to how demonstrators walked into her neighborhood to protest violence.

The reference to the fear of ending single-family housing in favor of “low-quality apartments” is a thinly-veiled dog-whistle at lower-income individuals—who are overwhelmingly people of color. Single-family zoning, a policy that restricts construction in an area to single-family homes, has helped perpetuate segregation for decades after civil rights laws were passed. The zoning ordinances prevent communities from building more affordable housing options, like apartments or duplexes. This can prevent lower-income families from gaining access to schools and other resources in areas that heavily use this zoning. In blunt terms, activists like Minneapolis organizer Kyrra Rankine have called this type of zoning “the new redlining.”

Regardless, the McCloskeys’ position is a territory that Trump has staked out for himself. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has outlined a plan to desegregate the suburbs, incensing Trump who went on a tweet tirade complaining about it. 

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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