David Ostendorf is a United Church of Christ minister serving as executive director of the Chicago-based Center for New Community, a national organization committed to building community, justice and equality.
In 1994, things began to look up for Milan, Missouri, a remote, rural community of 2,000 that had been struggling for years with a declining farm economy and weak job market. Premium Standard Farms (PSF), the second-largest pork production company in the U.S., opened a state-of-the-art packing plant in Milan’s rural enterprise zone.
In a nine-state area of the Midwest, 272 far-right-wing organizations—including Christian Identity, Christian Patriot, neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan groups—ply their racist and anti-Semitic ideologies. Hundreds of other groups are known to operate nationally, involving tens of thousands of true believers and their followers.
The two men had come with other Latinos from Texas to work in a Missouri meat-packing plant. They had once worked the fields, and had experienced all kinds of employers and working conditions. But their Missouri experience left them in disbelief.
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