EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. (KMOX) - An actor portraying the mayor of East St. Louis tells Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney that the city is a “hellhole”.
It happened during a Saturday Night Live skit on NBC this past weekend.
The actual mayor of East St. Louis, Alvin Parks, tells KMOX News that he fails to see the humor in the SNL skit.
“First of all, we know that East St. Louis is not (a hellhole),” Parks says. “As I always say, it’s not what they call you, it’s what you respond to.”
And he says portrayals of his city as a mecca for violent criminals and drug dealers, even if it’s meant to be “humorous”, sets back the efforts now underway to improve the quality of life for East St. Louis residents.
“Very clearly we have a city that has a lot of promise, a lot of hope, a lot of great history,” Parks says. “We look forward to having a riverfront one day that is absolutely bustling and thriving and a downtown that’s vibrant and exciting.”
Also taking exception to the SNL skit is the man who’s responsible for keeping law and order in East St. Louis, police chief Michael Floore.
“I was born and raised here in the city of East St. Louis and I consider this a wonderful place to live,” according to Floore. “Yes we’ve got problems like everybody else has, but for them to say this is a ‘hellhole’…that’s a disgrace to the city.”
But some residents disagree, saying the Saturday Night Live skit was dead-on.
“Robert”, a 67-year-old who only wanted to give his first name for fear of retribution, tells KMOX News he refuses to go out once the sun goes down.
“I won’t do it, I’m scared,” he says. “Gangs of youth roam the streets. If they see me out here they’ll jump me quick, but I ain’t got nothin’.
“It’s a hellhole,” he concludes.
OUR EARLIER STORY:
Live from New York…It’s Saturday Night Live…. a show that the mayor of East St. Louis probably has on his “do not watch list.” In case you missed it, over the weekend SNL did a skit on Mitt Romney making a campaign stop in the metro east city.
Candidate Romney, played by actor Jason Sudeikis, addresses a Thursday morning Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
“You know, Ann and I have lived and traveled all over the world, but I’ll let you in on a little secret, the only place that has ever felt like home, is right here, East St. Louis, Illinois,” he said.
East St. Louis Mayor Alvin Parks, played by Saturday Night Live’s Kenan Thompson interrupted the actor playing Romney, saying “Are you crazy? This is a hell hole!”
In the skit, Romney replied, “Really? I find it to be such a lovely place.” The mayor then said: “Trust me. I’m the mayor. This place is a hell hole. We live in a hell hole.”
KMOX News spent Sunday attempting to reach Mayor Parks to get his reaction to the skit, seen on national television. The mayor did not call us back.