St. Louis couple points guns at protesters heading to mayor's home to demand resignation
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St. Louis couple points guns at protesters heading to mayor's home to demand resignation

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ST. LOUIS — Protesters rallied outside St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home on Sunday night, demanding her resignation for releasing the names and addresses of residents who suggested defunding the police department.

At least 500 people demonstrated, chanting “Resign Lyda, take the cops with you.”

A white couple pointed guns at the protesters as the group marched toward the mayor's home. A social media video showed the armed couple standing outside of their large home Sunday evening in the upscale Central West End neighborhood of the Missouri city.

In the video, the unidentified couple shouted at protesters, while people in the march moved the crowd forward, urging participants to ignore them. People in the crowd included Black and white protesters.

It wasn't immediately clear whether St. Louis police were aware of the incident. An email and phone call from The Associated Press to police weren't immediately answered.

For weeks, demonstrators have marched against police violence and held rallies to close the St. Louis Medium Security Institution known as the workhouse.

While giving a briefing Friday on Facebook Live, Krewson read the names and addresses of several protesters who had given her letters suggesting changes to the city budget.

“As a leader, you don’t do stuff like that ... it’s only right that we visit her at her home,” said State Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis, speaking into a megaphone at the protest Sunday.

During the video briefing Friday, Krewson held up a stack of crumpled papers and then read from them.

“Here’s one that wants $50 million to go to Cure Violence, $75 million to go to Affordable Housing, $60 million to go to Health and Human Services and have zero go to the police,” the mayor said. She then read the name of the person and their address.

Krewson listed several other names and addresses, and stated that each individual called for defunding the police entirely. As the mayor spoke, viewers commented and asked her to stop sharing demonstrators’ personal information.

The video was removed later that night. Krewson apologized in a statement late Friday, saying she “did not intend to cause distress or harm to anyone.”

Emails or letters to elected officials, including names and addresses, are generally considered public records but are typically released only after a formal request.

The Rev. Darryl Gray, who was at the protest Sunday, acknowledged that what Krewson did was legal, but called her actions immoral and unethical.

“Does she understand why people are angry?” Gray said into a megaphone. “If you had understood the people you were elected to serve, you wouldn’t have made that comment.”

An online petition calling for Krewson’s resignation had about 41,500 signatures by 9 p.m. Sunday.

One of the protesters outside Krewson’s home, Rodney Brown, said he felt “extremely fearful because we should be able to write to our public officials, and the fact that she doesn’t feel she has to be accountable or protect us ... it’s a very violent gesture.”

Congressional candidate Cori Bush told protesters through a megaphone on Sunday, “When you are an activist and you speak up against police brutality, there are days you are stalked, followed, harassed ... the mayor just said it’s OK.”

Earlier in the day, police set up metal barricades around the mayor’s home. Protesters later pushed through the barricades to gather on the mayor’s front porch and yard. The word “RESIGN” was painted in large letters on her street.

On June 17, at Krewson’s request, a city panel voted to cut $860,000 in spending on the workhouse to hire mental health and social workers to aid police. The move was in addition to plans to cut the $16 million jail budget nearly in half as inmate counts decline.

The mayor and her public safety team insist the jail is needed. The city has spent more than $5 million since 2017 on upgrades to the jail, which has a capacity of 436 and held 92 inmates on Friday.

In other developments, 16 people who were arrested during protests Saturday outside of the Florissant Police Department were released by 6 p.m. Sunday, according to St. Louis Jail and Legal Support.

Charges included disturbing the peace, unlawful assembly and failure to disperse. During the standoff on north Lindbergh Boulevard, protesters threw frozen water bottles, glass bottles, batteries and rocks, while officers used pepper spray and fired one bean bag round after a person assaulted an officer, according to a police statement.

Demonstrators have been gathering outside the department since a video became public June 2 showing a Florissant detective driving an unmarked SUV into a Black suspect. That detective, Joshua L. Smith, 31, has been charged with first-degree assault, fourth-degree assault and armed criminal action.

Protesters want to see the two officers who were with Smith in the SUV fired and charged. Police have said the officers will not be fired and a special prosecutor investigating the incident declined to press charges.

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