To: San Antonio Current
C/o: Greg Harman
From: Skye Cosby
An open letter concerning Seymour Perkins
Seymour Perkins, Sr. Has been in the news frequently as of late. I was Mr. Perkins' secretary for over two years, only recently resigning due to failing health. I am also his legally authorized biographer, and would like the public to know something about his background.
Mr. Perkins served his country on a tour of duty in the Marines. Following this, he worked for 27 years at Reynolds Aluminum. During this time he was a labor union organizer, a Congregationalist delegate, a lay minister, a Freedom Rider, and an integration activist.
More recently, he has operated a safe-house for the homeless, and has made out-of-pocket, no interest loans to at least a dozen individuals who would have otherwise lost their home or car due to poverty.
It is true that allegations of criminal activity have been leveled at Mr. Perkins, but he has yet to be tried on any of these charges. Yet the mainstream media has already held their own trial, and the verdict seems to be "guilty."
But there is a point at which this story ceases to be about Mr. Perkins, and becomes a story about crime, politics, and money. Many people on the impoverished Eastside face criminal charges and live in substandard housing. Perkins was chosen by our city functionaries to serve as an example of our city's ability to "fight crime" due to his dramatic media profile: He is black. He is a senior citizen, he is outspoken concerning politics and religion, and he is a well-known artist.
The scheduled demolition of his house just before Christmas is just another part of the spectacle. A close friend of Perkins' said to me, "(He) is a sacrificial lamb for the holidays."
Whether he is convicted of any criminal charges or not, prostitutes will continue to operate on the Eastside, as will drug dealers. If the City of San Antonio honestly believes that evicting Perkins from his home and demolishing it will have any reductive action of the East Side's high crime rate, it will not.
I believe that removing Mr. Perkins from the neighborhood will destabilize the immediate area, as this will leave a number of homeless people and recovering addicts without any safety net. This entire little show has left me with the acrimonious sense that I should vote for a box of wet sand in the next City Council elections. The results could be no worse.
authorized biography of Seymour G. Perkins, Sr., due
out late in 2008)