As new details begin to surface about secret chemical tests performed on American citizens in St. Louis during the 1950s, we can only shake our heads in disgust and ask the obvious question: How many more of these kinds of tests were done without our knowledge?
In 1955 when she was still just a baby, Doris Spates’ father passed away suddenly, she recalled in an interview with The Associated Press recently. Since then, she says, she has survived cervical cancer while watching four siblings die from various cancers.
After finding out that, as the Cold War heightened throughout the 1960s, the U.S. Army conducted secret chemical testing in her downtrodden St. Louis neighborhood. And rightly so, Spates wonders if her government is responsible for the carnage her family has endured.
“In the mid-1950s, and again a decade later, the Army used motorized blowers atop a low-income housing high-rise, at schools and from the backs of station wagons to send a potentially dangerous compound into the already-hazy air in predominantly black areas of St. Louis,” the AP reported.
At the time, local officials were told by the military that the Pentagon was testing a smoke screen that would shield St. Louis from aerial observation in case the Soviet Union launched an attack.
It was a lie.
Nothing but silence from the government
In 1994, the federal government fessed up, saying the tests were part of a biological weapons program. St. Louis was chosen, it turns out, because some of its neighborhoods resembled Russian cities that the U.S. might attack in response.
“The material being sprayed was zinc cadmium sulfide, a fine fluorescent powder,” said AP.
New research is now calling into question the implications of those tests.
Studies by Lisa Martino-Taylor, a sociology professor at St. Louis Community College-Meramec, raises the possibility that the Army was conducting radiation testing by combining radioactive particles with the zinc cadmium sulfide – a possibility given the fact that both sides during the Cold War prepared for nuclear exchange – though she says she has no direct proof.
Still, the report she released in September was alarming enough that both U.S. senators from Missouri, Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Claire McCaskill, have demanded answers from John McHugh, the Army secretary.
So far, all they have heard in response is the chirping of crickets.
In documents obtained by Martino-Taylor via a Freedom of Information Act request, the Army described the area of testing as “a densely populated slum district,” of which three-quarters of residents were black.
Spates, who is 57 now and retired, was born inside her family’s apartment, which was located on the top floor of the long-demolished Pruitt-Igoe housing development, in 1955. Her family was not aware that on the roof, the Army was intentionally spraying hundreds of pounds of the zinc compound into the air.
Three months after she was born, her father died. Another four of her 11 siblings would die of cancer as well, all at relatively young ages.
Chemtrails part of ongoing testing?
“I’m wondering if it got into our system,” Spates told the AP. “When I heard about the testing, I thought, ‘Oh my God. If they did that, there’s no telling what else they’re hiding.'”
Others also wonder, including Mary Helen Brindell, 68. Her family also lived in a working-class neighborhood of mixed race where spraying took place.
The Army says it only used blowers to spread the chemical, but Brindell recounted to AP that one summer day when she was playing baseball with other kids in the street, a squadron of green Army planes flying close to the ground released a powdery substance. She says she went inside where she lived, washed it off her arms and face and went back outside to continue playing.
Over the years, she has had bouts with four types of cancer: breast, skin, uterine and thyroid.
“I feel betrayed,” Brindell, who is white, told AP. “How could they do this? We pointed our fingers during the Holocaust, and we do something like this?”
Can you say chemtrails?