This book is the result of painstaking work done during the second half of 1979, mostly in Philedelphia, but also in St. Louis, Chicago, New York City and Washington, D.C.
It includes a collection of materials from federal agencies such as the department of Housing and Urban Development and the General Accounting Office; from community sources such as Philedelphia and St. Louis legal aid societies; and from independent sources, such as foundations, private corporations, books, private papers, etc.
The search for and collection of this material began in August, 1979, when housing activists in Philedelphia first stumbled across the strangely-worded theory called "spatial deconcentration." A letter had been forwarded from the Philedelphia-area regional planning commission to activist attorneys in one of the legal service agencies, announcing a new "fair housing" program called the "Regional Housing Mobility Program." It might have all been greek to housing activists, had they not already known that some type of sweeping master plan had already swung into effect to depopulate Philedelphia of its minority neighborhoods.The massive demolition operations in minority neighborhoods, which had been systematic, and the total lack of reconstruction funds from public or private sources spoke to that fact. Activists had fought pitched battles with the city administration over housing policies for some three years before "mobility" was ever mentioned among their ranks. In March of 1979, in fact, Philedelphia public housing leaders launched an attack on a city-organized and HUD-sponsored plan to empty the city's public housing high-rise projects. The question at that time had been: "where will all the tenants go?" When the mobility program was unearthed in August, the answer fell into place like a major piece of a jig-saw puzzle. The answer, naturally, was the suburbs. It seemed to fit perfectly into the "triage" or "gentrification" scheme, which froze inner city land stocks for returning suburbanites who were finding city life more economical than the suburbs. Focusing their attention on this phenomenon called "Mobility," the activists dug for more materials at the planning commission office. With new material available, they began to slowly understand that the Mobility Program was much more than met the eye. By late September, they only understood that the program seemed to be a keystone among federal housing programs and that HUD was making special efforts to avoid a confrontation over the matter.
It was tactically decided that the program was to massive to be fought on a local level. Activists in other cities would have to be sensitized to the program and encouraged to swing into action against it. Between early November and late December, such contacts had been developed in St. Louis, Chicago, and New York City, all key Mobility cities. All the information that had been collected in Philedelphia before November was distributed to community activists in these cities. This action helped uncover massive amounts of new information about the program, which would have been impossible to procure on the East Coast for various reasons, and which changed the basic nature of the struggle the activists were waging against the government.
The Philadelphia housing leaders had fought their campaign between 1976 and 1979 under the assumption that their struggle against land speculators and government bureacracy had an economic base. They understood "gentrification" perfectly, but thought it had developed because the speculators were slowly but steadily viewing the land as some kind of gold mine to be vigorously exploited at any cost. The information uncovered about the mobility program slowly taught them that they were entirely wrong, and perhaps this misdirection had prevented them from realizing any measurable amount of success in forcing the city or government to start-up housing construction projects in the city. It is now clear, in 1980, that instead of being economic, the manifest crises that plague inner-city minorities are founded in a problem of control. The so-called "gentrification" of the inner-cities, the lack of rehabilitation financing for inner-city families, the massive demolition projects which have transformed once-stable neighborhoods into vast wastelands, the diminishing inner-city services, such as recreation, health care, education, jobs and job-training, sanitation, etc...are all rooted it an apparent bone-chilling fear that inner-city minorities are uncontrollable.
Lengthy government-sponsored studies were conducted in the wake of the riots of the 1960s, particularly after the 1967 Detroit fiasco, which cost 47 lives and was quelled only after deployment of the 82nd Airborn paratroopers, flown in from North Carolina, which had been commissioned for duty on the emergency order of then-President Lyndon Johnson. Among intelligence agencies pressed into service to study this problem was the Rand Corporation. In late December, 1967 and early January, 1968, Rand was requested by the Ford Foundation to conduct a three-week "workshop" concerning the "analysis of the urban problem." It was "intended to define and initiate a long-term research program on urban policy issues and to interest other organizations in undertaking related work. Participants included scientists, scholars, federal and New York City officials, and Rand staff members."
Johnson also ordered a particularly significant study of the riots to be commissioned, which has led to the emergence of some of the most dangerous theories since the rise of Adolf Hitler. It was the National Advisory Commission Report on Civil Disorders, more commonly known as the Kerner Commission Report. Strategists representing all specialties were contracted by the government to participate in the study. Begun in 1967 immediately in the wake of the Detroit riot, it was not published until March of 1968. But only weeks after its emergence, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated and the most massive wave of riots that was ever recorded in American history almost forced a suspension of the Constitution. Samuel Yette reported in his 1971 book THE CHOICE, that the House Un-American Affairs Committee, headed by right-wing elements, had put heavy pressure on Johnson to suspend the Constitution and declare martial law in the cities. Johnson resisted and instead ordered government strategists to employ the finest minds in the country to analyze the cause of the revolts and develop strategies to prevent them in the future.
The workshop participants were asked to prepare and submit papers recommending "program initiatives and experiments" in the areas of welfare/public assistance, jobs and manpower training, housing and urban planning, police services and public order, race relations and others. The papers were grouped into four headings, including two called "urban poverty," and "urban violence and public order."
The Kerner Commission strategists came to the conclusion that America's inner-city poverty was so entrenched that the ghettoes could not be transformed into viable neighborhoods to the satisfaction of its residents or the government. The problem of riots, therefore, could be expected to emerge in the future, perhaps with more intensity and as a more serious threat to the Constitutional privileges which most Americans enjoy. They finally concluded that if the problem could not be eliminated because of the nature of the American system of "free enterprise," then American technology could contain it. This could only be done through a theory of "spatial deconcentration" of racially-impacted neighborhoods. In other words, poverty had been allowed to become so concentrated in the inner cities that hopelessness overwhelmed their residents and the government's resolve to dilute it. This hopelessness had the social effect of a fire near a powderkeg. But if the ghettoes were thinned out, the chances of a cataclysmic explosion that could destroy the American way of life could be equally diminished. Inner-city residents, then, would have to be dispersed throughout the metropolitan regions to guarantee the privileges of the middle class. Where those inner-city residents should be placed after their dispersal had been the subject of intense research by the government and the major financial interests of the U.S. since 1968. In the Kerner Commission report, Chapter 17 addressed itself to this prospect. Suburbs was its answer; the farthest place from the inner city.
A high proportion of the commissioners for the Report and their contracting stategists were military or paramilitary men. Otto Kerner himself, chairman of the Commission, was the Governor of Illinois at the time of the Report but before that had been a major general in the army. John Lindsay, also a commissioner, Mayor of New York, had been the chairman of the political committee of the NATO Parliamentarians Conference. Herbert Jenkins, before becoming a commissioner, had been chief of the Atlanta Police Department and President of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, a reputed anti-terrorist organization. Charles Thornton, the fourth of seven commissioners, was chairman of the board of Litton Industries at the time he accepted his commission, one of the country's chief military suppliers and, before that, had been general manager of the Hughes Aircraft Corporation--another major military supplier--a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, a trustee of the National Security Industrial Association, and a member of the Advisory Council to the Defense Department.
The Commission's list of contractors and witnesses was no less glittering in military and paramilitary personnel. No less than thirty police departments were represented on or before the Commission by their chiefs or their deputy chiefs. Twelve generals representing various branches of the armed services appeared before the Commission or served as contractors. The Agency for International Development, the Rand Corporation, the Brookings Institute, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the Institute of Defense Analysis, and the Ford Foundation all played significant roles in shaping the Commission's findings.
A hardly-noticeable name listed among these intelligence and military giants was that of one Anthony Downs, a civilian. Unlike most of the other contractors, whose names were followed by lines of titles, Downs was simply listed as being from Chicago, Illinois. His name was to become very prominent among inner-city grassroots leaders around the country by the end of 1979. Philadelphia housing leaders had remembered Downs as having been the author of the so-called "triage" report of 1975, which led to a storm of controversy at the time.
In his HUD-sponsored study, Downs argued that the inner cities were hopelessly beyond repair and would be better cleared of services and residents and landbanked. The middle class should then be allowed to repopulate these areas, giving them a breath of new life. The activists, in their rush to uncover information about the Mobility Program, discovered to their surprise that Downs had written Chapters 16 and 17 of the Kerner Commission Report; the chapters devoted to demographic shifts in the inner cities and spatial deconcentration.
Housing activists studying theories of "mobility" and "spatial deconcentration" stumbled upon yet another "strategist," also, like Downs, out of Chicago, named Bernard Weissbourd. Weissbourd wrote two papers in Chicago in 1968 concerning the crisis of exploding minority inner-city populations. In one paper entitled "An Urban Strategy," he proposed a so-called "one-four-three-four plan. Inner-city minority populations represented such a growing political threat by their growing number, he argued, that a strategy had to be quickly developed to thin out their numbers and prevent them from overwhelming the nation's big cities. He proposed that this be accomplished through a series of federal and private programs that would financially induce minorities to migrate to the suburbs until their absolute numbers inside the cities represented no more than one-fourth of the total population. It is not clear if "An Urban Strategy" was written before the Kerner Commission Report was released, or before the end of the Rand Corporation "workshop." Around the same time, however, he wrote another paper entitled "Proposal for a New Housing Program: Satellite Communities." Weissbourd argued that the bombed-out inner-city neighborhoods should be completely rebuilt as "new towns in town" for the middle class. As in his "Urban Strategy" paper, he discussed the threat of explosive inner-city minority populations and their threatening political power. He suggested that this threat could be repulsed with the construction of new housing outside the cities for inner-city minorities. He also suggested that jobs be found for these people in the suburbs and that "...some form of subsidy" be developed to induce them to leave the inner-cities. It is not clear whether Downs knew Weissbourd or borrowed his theories in time for his Kerner Commission Report, if, in fact, the Report was finished after Weissbourd published his works, although it is likely, since both worked out of Chicago. It is clear that both strategists saw American middle-class lifestyles as being challenged by the same explosive, racially-impacted inner-city neighborhoods.
In the same year that Downs had completed his Kerner Commission Report chapters and Weissbourd published his theories, President Johnson requested the formation of a research network that could focus on analyses of inner-city evolution and area-wide metropolitan strategies. This "think-tank" is called the Urban Institute. Since its founding in 1968, the likes of Carla Hills, Robert McNamara, Cyrus Vance, William Ruckleshaus, Kingman Bruster, Joseph Califano, Edward Levi, John D. Rockefeller, Charles Schultze, and William Scranton have served as members of its board of trustees. The five blacks who have served, or are serving, are Whitney Young, Leon Sullivan, William Hastie, Vernon Jordan, and William Coleman, all prominent middle-class "yes-men." The board of the Institute has had an interlocking relationship with the boards of trustees of the Rand Corporation and the Brookings Institute, both close CIA affiliates. Rand's Washington office, in fact, is located in the same building where the Institute has its headquarters.
The Institute, to say the least, is a bizarre agency. It was supposedly founded in the spirit of harmony between the races, but has been dominated by a substantial number of presidential cabinet members and major U.S. corproations and universities, such as Yale and Chicago. Worse, the Institute has conducted a substantial portion of the research that has led to the development of Mobility programming techniques. Its president, William Gorham, recently described the agency as a HUD "testing laboratory." It is not only theoretically dominated by the likes of quasi-military strategists that dominated the Kerner Commission, especially one John Goodman, the Institute's major "Mobility" specialist. In terms of the type of experiments the Institute has conducted over its short history and the highly sensitive nature of its research work, it ranks on par with the CIA itself. Goodman, for instance, heading a team of strategists, developed between 1975 and 1979 a series of experiments to determine the best way to induce inner-city blacks and other minorities to leave the cities. A favorite ploy they developed was housing allowances and the so-called "subsidy" programs, whereby low-income families are supported in their rent payments or paid cash grants, if they first agree to move out. Heavy experimentation was also conducted by the Institute on tactics that could be used to shape the Section 8 Program into a counterinsurgency program against minorities.