Government officials who indicated they would attend a post-Ferguson Commission meeting were no-shows.
Last minute cancellations seen as slap in the face to community and an indication of where much of the racial problems originate.
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On Sunday, November 1, 2015, a gathering billed as the “Public Accountability Meeting” was held at the Saint Louis University’s Busch Center. Organized by Rev. Starsky Wilson, co-chair of the Ferguson Commission and sponsored by his St. John’s Church and other community groups, the meeting was an opportunity to address critical accountable bodies identified in the Forward Through Ferguson Report to articulate their plans to advance the recommendations.
The action items addressed at the meeting included increased quality and quantity of police training, updating racial profiling statutes, quality civilian oversight of police, minimum wage increase, and racial equity frameworks in policy making and student discipline.
Organizers of the meeting hoped to discuss these topics and acquire commitments from local and state government officials to move toward enacting at least some of the recommendations developed by the Ferguson Commission’s 10 months of work. One of the concerns throughout the region was that once the Ferguson Commission issued it’s report and recommended solutions, that the report would “gather dust on shelves.” And, while the Commission has no power to enact their recommended action items, many are actively lobbying government officials to move forward on them.
When those officials who had indicated they would attend did not, empty chairs were set up on the stage as a symbol of their absence.
On Monday, November 2, since the officials in question did not “come to the table” as they had said they would in good faith, a group of the activists including Rev. Wilson and other area clergy and activists took the table to them on the steps of the St. Louis City Hall. While protesters gathered outside City Hall around 11:00 a.m., a contingent lead by Rev. Starsky Wilson sought to meet with the mayor inside. The mayor was not available, but they were able to meet with Slay’s Chief of Staff who agreed that the mayor would attend a subsequent meeting on November 23, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. at Saint Louis University’s Busch Center.
This same group will now approach Chief of Police Dotson, County Executive Stenger, Attorney General Koster and all others who were AWOL from Sunday’s gathering to get their agreement to attend as well. Only through dialogue and commitment from our leaders can this City, County and region make progress in achieving equitable policy changes needed to address the racial division that is now known to be so prevalent in our town.
Please mark your calendar for November 23 to attend this important 6:00 p.m. meeting and demonstrate your interest in seeing real changes made.
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