ST LOUIS (AP) — A white couple pointed guns at protesters in St Louis as a group marched toward the mayor’s home to demand her resignation after she read the names and addresses of several residents who supported defunding the police department during an online briefing.
A social media video showed the armed couple standing outside of their large home in the upscale Central West End neighbourhood 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 was not immediately clear whether St Louis police were aware of the incident. An email and phone call from The Associated Press to police were not immediately answered.
The group of at least 500 people was heading toward Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home, chanting, “Resign Lyda, take the cops with you,” news outlets reported.
Resignation demands come after a Facebook Live briefing last Friday where Krewson read the names and addresses of several residents who wrote letters to the mayor suggesting she defund the police department.
The video was removed from Facebook and Krewson apologised, stating she did not “intend to cause distress”.
The names and letters are considered public records but Krewson’s actions received heavy backlash.
Protesters nationwide have been pushing to “defund the police” following the death of George Floyd and other Black people killed by law enforcement. Floyd, who was in handcuffs, died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes.
Krewson, a white longtime alderwoman, was elected as St Louis’ first female mayor in April 2017 by pledging to work to reduce crime and improve impoverished neighbourhoods. She and her two young children were in the car in front of their home in 1995 when her husband, Jeff, was slain during a random carjacking attempt.
Homicides spiked in recent years in St Louis, which annually ranks among the most violent cities in the nation based on FBI statistics.
An online petition calling for Krewson’s resignation had more than 43,000 signatures as of yesterday.
“As a leader, you don’t do stuff like that… it’s only right that we visit her at her home,” said state Representative Rasheen Aldridge, D-St Louis, speaking into a megaphone at the protest.