Justice for Michael Brown group protests plan to hire more police

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A small group of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition protested a plan to hire more police in St. Louis. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – While Mayor Francis Slay is pushing to hire more police officers, one group took to the steps inside city hall in opposition of the plan.

Members of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition believe hiring more police would equal harassment for low-income residents and minorities.

“More police only means increased targeting of poor people and people of color,” said Zaki Baruti, head of the coalition. “We oppose any increase in police power or numbers.”

At a news conference Thursday following a recent wave of violence that claimed the lives of six people, Mayor Slay spoke of a desire to hire upwards of 160 new officers to patrol the streets.

The Justice for Michael Brown group did not get to meet with Mayor Slay, but vowed to present him with its written opposition to hiring more law enforcement.

“The solution to crime in this community is jobs, jobs, jobs,” Baruti said. “Take that $8 million and instead of hiring 160 police officers, hire 160 black youth that need jobs out here and then you’ll prevent crime.”

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has said in recent days that police manpower has been shifted in recent months due to protests. Following the murder of 19-year-old Bobby Christman in downtown, Dotson promised to have more patrols in the area.

Information from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was used in this report.