O’FALLON, Mo. (AP) – Mayor of St. Louis Lyda Krewson knows the trauma of violence – she and her children were present when her first husband was shot and killed 25 years ago while attempting carjacking. She was elected for a promise to curb violence in her city.
In the midst of that background, it is not surprising that phone calls to the police do not suit her well.
But Krewson went a step further: she publicly revealed the names and addresses of anti-police protesters, a decision that sparked additional criticism in the tense weeks after George Floyd’s death at the hands of a white Minneapolis officer who put his knee to Floyd’s neck crowds. More than 50,000 people have signed a petition requesting her resignation.
Releasing the names and addresses was dangerous “because you never know what anyone else will do with that information,” Councilor Lewis Reed said Tuesday.
Councilor Megan Green said Krewson’s action “was intended to quell harassment and suppress dissent and stop a movement that is happening not only locally, but across the country.
Jeff and Lyda Krewson and their two small children returned from shopping in 1995 when two carjackers approached with guns. Jeff Krewson was fatally shot in the neck while trying to reverse the car. Lyda Krewson and her children aged 2 and 5 were not injured.
St. Louis was violent then, as it is today. The city of 300,000, which is roughly equally divided between black and white residents, tends to have one of the highest homicide rates in the country and 2020 will be a brutal year.
It’s also a region with a long history of racial strife that flooded in 2014 when a white officer fatally shot 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was black, in nearby Ferguson. Agent Darren Wilson was cleared of misconduct and eventually resigned, and the shooting drew attention to the uncomfortable relationship between the St. Louis Police Department and the black residents.
Krewson, 67, defeated three high-profile black candidates in the March 2017 Democratic primaries, aided by a police union endorsement. She easily won in the April general election.
Protests broke out months later after a white former police officer, Jason Stockley, was acquitted on the death of a black suspect. During a demonstration in the center in September 2017, more than 120 people were arrested, some of them violently, including bystanders and journalists. On another evening, protesters broke windows and threw paint at Krewson’s house.
Floyd’s death fueled tensions in St. Louis. Speaking live on Facebook on Friday, Krewson said she met protesters who presented her written suggestions for the city budget, including proposals to cut funding for the police. She read the names and addresses of some protesters.
It was not clear why she did that. She later deleted the video and apologized, saying on Twitter that she “ had no intention of harming or causing any harm to anyone. ” But the response was angry and quick.
Protesters marched to Krewson’s house on Sunday evening, painting the word ‘RESIGN’ on the street. The protest drew national attention when the widespread video featured a white couple standing in front of their nearby mansion targeting passing protesters. Their lawyer said they support the Black Lives Matter movement and were armed because they feared for their lives.
Other mayors were also besieged.
When protesters marched to the Mayor of Minneapolis house a few days after Floyd’s death, Frey was honored from the street after refusing to support calls for the abolition of police.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan was pressured to resign for weeks over protests over police liability. As in St. Louis, protesters and some city councilors have pursued a drastic reduction in the law enforcement budget.
Krewson’s spokesman, Jacob Long, said the mayor was unavailable for an interview, but has no plans to resign and plans to seek a second term.
Anita Manion, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Missouri at St. Louis, said the moment may be too great for Krewson to survive politically.
“I have a feeling that the current movement will not disappear anytime soon, and I don’t think many St. Louisans will forget,” said Manion.
Resignation from office seems unlikely as it would require a revocation vote, and obtaining enough signatures for a special election to take place would take several months, with the next mayoral election only eight months away.
In the future, Krewson “supports common sense police reform and is committed to a comprehensive review of the policy on the use of force,” said Long.
For Reed, Krewson’s actions are the most important.
“You can’t afford to be deaf,” said Reed.
Associated Press writers Margaret Stafford in Liberty, Missouri, and Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas, contributed to this report.
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