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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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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