ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Audience members were as loud as they were angry during a meeting held Wednesday night at Harris-Stowe State University.
The panel discussion was meant to provide cohesive ideas for moving forward after the deeply divisive Stockley verdict, but protesters who made up a large majority of the 300 or so in the audience were intent on having their voices heard, no matter what.
“You know, I’d really like…I’d like to visit with you, I’d like to hear what you have to say…,” began a typical exchange every time Mayor Lyda Krewson, one of four panelists, tried to speak.
Members of the audience shouted her down, repeatedly demanding that she fire interim St. Louis Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole.
Even fellow panel member Bruce Franks, a Missouri State Representative (D-78) and frequent presence at area Stockley protests, turned and put Krewson on the spot to find a successor to O’Toole sooner rather than later, and to hire a new public safety director.
For the most part, Franks had an easier time dealing with the rowdy crowd than Krewson did.
“It’s come to a point now where my only job as a lawmaker and a protester together is to make sure that I stand with the people, and make sure that we continue doing everything that we’ve been doing,” Franks said. “Because the time for discussion is over.”
Other panelists included David Dwight with the Citizen Advisory Committee, which is helping to oversee the search for a new police chief, and Sgt. Heather Taylor, president of the Ethical Society of Police.
In between the frequent outbursts and chanting from the crowd, the panel did manage to talk about some issues, like the search for a new chief, next month’s Prop P vote in the city, and police accountability.
“This dialogue, I think, is extremely important,” Krewson explained. “Because I think that without dialogue, we won’t be on a path to change for St. Louis, which we desperately do need to be on.”