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St. Louis lawmakers want to mark ‘the horror and history where Busch Stadium now stands’

"We believe this acknowledgment will start healing those divisions, bring our history to light for many and spark conversations that need to occur"
Credit: SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — Two St. Louis-area lawmakers are asking the St. Louis Cardinals to put up a marker at a former slave pen site near Busch Stadium.

On Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Representatives Rasheen Aldridge and Trish Gunby sent a letter to Cardinals president Bill DeWitt. In the letter, they ask the organization to erect the marker to recognize “the horror and history where Busch Stadium now stands.”

The former slave pen site at Broadway and Clark Avenue was one of Bernard Lynch's slave pens. Lynch was a slave trafficker known in St. Louis for the significant number of slaves he sold. Several of Lynch’s Slave Pens existed across the downtown area. 

The pens were holding places for enslaved men, women and children before they were sold at slave markets and often auctioned off on the steps of the Old Courthouse.

The pens were cramped and constructed like prison cells, according to an article about the history of the pens on the city's website. Each person was shackled, the rooms were bolted and locked and bars were placed on the windows.

During the Civil War, the slave pens were closed and Union soldiers used them as prisons for Confederate sympathizers. They were demolished in 1963 to make room for Busch Stadium II,  Aldridge and Gunby said in a news release.

“As elected officials in the Missouri House of Representatives and with Busch Stadium in District 78, we are well aware of how race and injustice have divided our region,” they wrote. “We believe this acknowledgment will start healing those divisions, bring our history to light for many and spark conversations that need to occur.”

Gunby told 5 On Your Side they have heard back from a Cardinals representative but are waiting to speak with him directly.