Mayor Krewson says institutional racism divides St. Louis city

ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson canceled upcoming town hall meetings including one scheduled for Tuesday night at Vashon High School in north St. Louis.  She shared a statement explaining her decision through social media and then later met with reporters.

“To folks that are marching in the street, I want to be clear that I hear you,” said Krewson.

The mayor said she’s checking her social media notifications and voice mails and is listening to all the feedback.  Krewson believes the protesting goes beyond a judge’s decision to find former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the shooting death of drug suspect Anthony Lamar Smith.

“What we have is a legacy of policies that have disproportionately impacted people along racial and economic lines.  This isn’t an opinion.  It’s supported by stats and numbers,” said Krewson.  “This is institutional racism.”

Krewson promised to examine how much authority citizens should have in the review of police officer related shootings.  She said job opportunities are another critical issue for St. Louis.  Krewson said the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment has expanded its hours to help anyone looking for work.

The mayor also said allegations of police misconduct will be reviewed by both the St. Louis Police Department’s Internal Affairs division and the St. Louis Department of Public Safety.

“Our officers have been working long hours under tense and sometimes and hostile situations and for that I thank them,” said Krewson.

The mayor called reports that officers were chanting, “Whose streets?  Our streets.” Inflammatory and said she shared her concerns with Interim St. Louis Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole.