ST. LOUIS — Activists are demanding change in downtown St. Louis, but this time their focus is reparations and for them, that 10-letter word takes on a new meaning.
"We're not saying just give every Black person a check what we’re saying reparations it's very clear we’re saying put that money back into our community," said Missouri State Representative Rasheen Aldridge.
On Wednesday, activists with Expect US gathered outside the old courthouse in St. Louis demanding reparations.
"When we say reparations we’re saying freedom for communities that have been underserved, putting money back into communities that have not seen the best of times and make sure that they can have strong neighborhoods," said Aldridge.
Aldridge said in all, activists have five demands:
- Close the Workhouse
- Defund the police department
- Disarm or train police officers in de-escalation tactics
- Free political prisoners, which are people arrested or charged during a protest
"In the past we had done protests and things just died out but we can’t give up yet so we’re continuing to push for our five point demands," said Aldridge.
Organizers said the demands are not a big ask, pointing out flaws with the way city funds are currently spent.
"It’s crazy how so much money goes to public safety, and little goes to mental health, little goes to parks, little goes to community, you’re talking over 50% of a budget over 50% going to public safety and were getting the same result so what we’re saying it’s time to reallocate, defund and reimagine," said Aldridge.
Aldridge pointed out that other major cities have already begun reallocating funds to go back into minority communities.
The group has hope St. Louis will do the same.
Dozens of protesters remained outside St. Louis City Hall Wednesday night and well into the morning. At midnight, 5 On Your Side saw dozens of people in camping chairs and sitting on the stairs outside the building. Several of them peacefully stayed outside of city hall all night.
- Florissant police chief says protesters tried to get into police department building
- Protesters shut down parts of I-64 and gather at mayor Krewson's house Friday night
- 'Expect Us' protesters rally in Central West End, march onto I-64
- Protest organizers say there was no reason for homeowners to come outside with guns