Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blacks Killing Blacks Is Problem African-Americans Have to Address, St. Louis Public Safety Director Says

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blacks Killing Blacks Is Problem African-Americans Have to Address, St. Louis Public Safety Director Says

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS * Jimmie Edwards, the city's new public safety director, did not waste time getting to his point.

"This message is for black folk," Edwards said during remarks Monday at the annual downtown ceremony honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Of the city's 205 murders last year, 204 of the victims were African-Americans, Edwards said. "One hundred percent of the people that were caught and accused of those crimes were African-Americans. We have to address that. We cannot go forward and continue King's dream unless we look in the mirror and address that problem. That's a problem that's on us."

Edwards, a former circuit judge, made his remarks to a boisterous crowd in the Old Courthouse rotunda as new Police Chief John Hayden stood by his side. Both men are African-American.

"In order for Chief Hayden to have any success, in order for Judge Edwards to have any success, you've got to step forward," Edwards said, urging the public to report crimes and work with law enforcement to create a safer community.

King talked of a revolution, but profound change cannot happen without buy-in from everyone, Edwards said.

"This is real talk," he said.

Edwards was appointed by Mayor Lyda Krewson, elected last year to replace Francis Slay, who did not seek re-election after serving 16 years.

Slay had not been to the downtown King event since 2008, when he was booed and shouted down after a few months earlier dismissing Sherman George as the city's first African-American fire chief.

Krewson was the first speaker Monday, stressing that work still needs to be done to knock down obstacles blocking progress for all. George, like at previous King events since his dismissal, sat among the dignitaries.

"Too many people encounter discrimination because of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation," Krewson said. Too many immigrants live in fear and uncertainty, she said.

"The life of Dr. King inspires us, inspires me, to commit to ensuring that St. Louis is a just and equitable city for all, a city where prosperity is shared, where all residents feel safe to be themselves, a city where all are welcome."

Michael McMillan, CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, presided over the ceremony, a two-hour event filled with music, Scripture readings and a litany of speeches, each with a notable quote from King.

McMillan, who deviated from the script a bit, said to Krewson after her remarks: "The two best things you have done in this past year of your service as mayor are sitting right here," McMillan said, pointing to Edwards and Hayden.

Krewson, who is white, won a race for mayor last year that pitted her against four prominent African-American candidates, including Treasurer Tishaura Jones. …

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