ST. LOUIS (AP) — Five thousand miles from Sarajevo, a small Catholic college in St. Louis wants to preserve the intimate stories of Bosnian exiles displaced by war in the former Yugoslavia two decades ago.
The Bosnia Memory Project at Fontbonne University began several years ago when professor Benjamin Moore and a colleague created a class on the local immigrant experience. An estimated 70,000 Bosnians live in the St. Louis area, making it the largest such settlement outside the country of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Moore and his students have recorded nearly 60 interviews in an oral history project but eventually hope to have 1,000 entries. He says the project provides a vital historical record for younger Bosnians who grew up in the United States and know little about the country their parents and grandparents called home.
Residents and business owners in the largest Bosnian community in America are frustrated by the crime in their Bevo Mill neighborhood.
Two convenience store murders in less than a month prompted residents to pack the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce office Wednesday night, looking for answers from City Police Chief Sam Dotson.
A nineteen year old clerk at the Quick Stop store on Chippewa was gunned down May 31st. His brother was also shot and wounded. Then last week a 30 year old father with a pregnant wife was shot to death while working at a 7-11 at Gravois and Bates.
Chief Dotson told the group that crime is actually down seven-percent in the area, but that he understands their concerns and urged them to put pressure on judges to sentence repeat offenders to prison instead of probation.