Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment (MORE) is the rebranded Missouri branch of the now-defunct, pro-socialist, community organization ACORN. In an effort to cultivate a “more just, sustainable world,” MORE seeks to help “low- and moderate-income people buil[d] power in [their] communities” and “fight back” against the “unabated expansion” of America’s “corporate power” and the “gap between the rich and the poor.”
Toward these ends, MORE trains “people of color and low-income people” to become “radical organizers” equipped to lead a crusade of “non-violent direct action” that “confront[s] power” by “amplify[ing] the voices of the disadvantaged,” “challeng[ing] capitalism,” building “civil resistance,” and promoting “fundamental change.” Steeped in identity politics based on “race and class,” a major objective of MORE’s “transformative work” is to “mov[e] us out of the market economy” of “corporate capitalism,” which allegedly prioritizes profit “above all else.”
MORE’s major activities center around the following issues:
* Solidarity Economy: Rejecting “the injustice inherent in our current economic system,” MORE seeks to promote an economy that embodies such values as “social justice,” “mutualism,” and “cooperation,” while “resisting the notion of ‘every person for themselves.’” One MORE campaign in particular pressures St. Louis’s city courts to offer “non-monetized options” by which low-income people—especially “people of color”—can pay off “municipal ordinance violations” that may be difficult for them to afford.
* Housing Foreclosures: Proceeding from the premise that “housing is a human right,” MORE demands a moratorium on all home foreclosures in the St. Louis area. Specifically, the organization employs a combination of direct action, housing counseling, and legal advocacy to promote “local policies and interventions for stopping foreclosures.” Further, it is currently engaged in several campaigns to “fight for affordable housing and more equitable access to land in St. Louis”—i.e., taxpayer subsidization of low-income people’s living expenses.
On a national level, MORE works with the Home Defenders League to pressure the federal government “to prosecute big banks that crashed our economy and [to] give underwater and foreclosed homeowners a fair deal.” On July 21, 2010, MORE activists nearly caused a riot at a Chase bank office in a St. Louis suburb, where they demanded that banks not foreclose on defaulted mortgages and screamed: “Predatory lender, criminal offender!” As journalist Matthew Vadum reports, “MORE also was trying to shake down Chase,” whose philanthropic arm had already contributed at least $7.6 million to ACORN affiliates during the preceding 12 years, “for some more money.”
* Climate: MORE depicts capitalism as being inherently destructive of the natural environment, and embraces the notion that pollution associated with human industrial activity is a chief cause of global warming. Blaming greenhouse-gas emissions from five St. Louis-area coal corporations for contributing to the city’s “high asthma rates” and its recent “triple-digit heat waves,” MORE aims to end all tax breaks for the coal companies and thereby “stop the taxpayer subsidization of climate change.”
* Participatory Budgeting: In an effort to “increase [the] civic engagement” of St. Louis’s “low- and moderate-income communities,” MORE demands that the city’s “disenfranchised” residents be empowered “to propose projects for capital improvements in their neighborhood[s]” so as to give them a measure of “democratic control over infrastructural issues.”
* Community Gardens: Claiming that “food deserts are yet another symptom of corporate power,”—and that “access to healthy, fresh, non-GMO food is a right” that everyone should enjoy—MORE maintains a large community garden in St. Louis.
In the summer of 2014, MORE launched a highly incendiary initiative called “Justice for Mike Brown,” named in memory of a black teenager who had been shot and killed by a white police officer on August 9th in Ferguson, Missouri. In the aftermath of the incident, MORE helped advance a false narrative which stated that the officer had killed Brown in cold blood while the latter’s hands were raised in the air to indicate peaceful, submissive surrender. The organization was also a major force in leading a long series of contentious, sometimes violent, protests demanding that “justice” be served in that case. Further, MORE worked aggressively to free those pro-Brown demonstrators who had been jailed for acts of vandalism, arson, looting, assault, and rioting. When compelling ballistic, eyewitness, and forensic evidence eventually indicated that Brown in fact had assaulted the officer and tried to steal his gun just prior to the fatal shooting, MORE’s fanatical rage over the incident was undiminished.
Also in 2014, MORE paid at least 80 individuals and organizations to participate in the Ferguson protests. Some of those protesters received $5,000 per month. Much of that money derived from the billionaire financier George Soros, who, according to the Washington Times, “gave at least $33 million in one year to support already-established groups that emboldened the grass-roots, on-the-ground activists in Ferguson, according to the most recent tax filings of his nonprofit Open Society Foundations.”
MORE is an organizational member of several national and local activist networks, including the Center for Popular Democracy, Missouri Jobs with Justice, the Missouri Organizing Collaborative, the New Economy Coalition, Rising Tide North America, and Right to the City.
MORE’s executive director is the former SEIU organizer Jeff Ordower, who previously headed ACORN’s Midwest operations. In his online biography, Ordower states that he was “one of a group of founders of the Chicago-based organization Gender Just, which merged queer, class and racial justice.”
According to a Statement of Revenue that MORE provided to the IRS, in 2012 the organization received $21,460 in government grants.
For additional information on MORE, click here.