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Slay, Koster commit to work with community, Stenger still absent

Posted by: Gordon on 11/24/2015

Accountability Monday public meeting in St. Louis 11-23-15

Hundreds turned out for a public meeting to hold elected officials accountable for racial-justice reforms in St. Louis Monday, Nov. 23. Photo via @RebeccaRivas of St. Louis American. 

The second time was a bit more charming for a coalition of community organizations that held a re-do of their public accountability session Monday night. Mayor Francis Slay came out in support of giving the city’s civilian police oversight board subpoena power.


Before a crowd of more than 400, Slay and Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster committed to work on training for police and adding more people of color to law enforcement in St. Louis City, other towns in St. Louis county, and elsewhere in the state.

But County Executive Steve Stenger was a no-show after weeks of waffling on whether he would attend or not, and city and county police chiefs also failed to attend.

Monday’s event was a re-do after the officials all failed to attend the coalition’s earlier meeting, attended by more than 1,000, November 1. Rev. Starsky Wilson, who leads Deaconess Foundation chaired the meetings. ArchCity Defenders, Metropolitan Congregations United and Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment organized the first event and a series of actions to demand attention from elected officials afterward. Monday's meeting was a result of those further efforts.

A key theme of the two meetings was how to implement the recommendations of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon’s Ferguson Commission, which Wilson co-chaired. Creating (and strengthening) the civilian review board as well as law enforcement training are just two of the priority recommendations the Commission members made. “We have quite a year ahead” securing the changes recommended in the Commission report, Wilson told the crowd.

Michelle Higgins, an MCU leader, told the story of Tiffany Robertson and her husband, an African-American couple who last year advised their son, who is in the military, to prepare for a Middle East deployment over being based in Missouri.  Higgins recounted that Robertson told her son, “you’re safer fighting Isis over there than walking the streets at home.”

“Over and over we hear this story of young men and women of color, of parents struggling to find safety for their children, of a whole community traumatized and seeking justice,” Higgins said.

The event was also covered by St. Louis Public Radio and St. Louis American.

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