After the mayor of St. Louis called off several town hall meetings, a different group decided to hold one without her.
Thursday night, hundreds attended what organizers called the “People’s Town Hall.” They packed inside the Christ Church Cathedral downtown to hear presentations and ask questions of a panel of elected leaders.
The panel included State Representative Bruce Franks, Alderwoman Megan Ellyia Green, Committeeman Rasheen Aldridge and Treasurer and former mayoral candidate Tishaura Jones.
“These folks on the panel, and me as well, we’ve been out here with the people,” Franks said. “You have to have those type of elected officials and that’s’ what elected officials look like.”
St. Louis Mayor, Lyda Krewson, called off several town-hall-style meetings scheduled for September.
Since the protests have started, she said she has heard from people sharing their concerns, both directly from them and on social media. At the time, Krewson said she planned to reschedule those meetings.
At the “People’s Town Hall,” organizers left out an empty chair to symbolize the mayor’s absence. A spokesman for Mayor Krewson said she no comment on the town hall Thursday night.
Treasurer Jones said it was important for people to address elected leaders.
“We can’t give them all of the answers that they wanted tonight but that’s also part of the therapy,” she said. “You get a chance to vent. And there are a lot of reasons to vent right now.”
Before a Question & Answer session, those in attendance listed to a presentation which covered statistics about police-involved shootings in St. Louis and calls to end cash-only bail for non-violent officers. Everyone was given a list of the “People’s Demands,” and asked to write any additional ideas on notecards that will be delivered to city hall.
Then, people lined up for two hours to address the panel. Some asked about the best way to effect change in the community, others wanted to know more about the process behind bringing change at the city and state level. Many shared personal frustrations.
“People wanted an opportunity to express themselves,” Jones said. “They also wanted to talk about what’s realistic. What are some tangible things that we can expect from our elected officials at this point, from the local and state level.”