September 21, 2021
On September 14, Mayor Tishaura Jones announced that her administration will increase the police presence in downtown St. Louis in response to recent reports of violence and disruption. We oppose this approach because we have seen that doubling down on increased policing endangers vulnerable St. Louisans instead of keeping our communities safe.
According to Public Safety Director Dan Isom, the additional police officers will “do more enforcement of parking rules, park curfews, [and] license plate tag issues, just to name a few.” We know that these actions will put more poor, unhoused, and Black St. Louisans in jail while exposing them to police violence, and do nothing to impact the real violence and harm facing downtown St. Louis residents.
We are also concerned by the creation of a “downtown safety committee” made up largely of corporate executives who are unlikely to be those targeted by this increased police presence. Whatever the intentions of this group, the work of keeping our communities safe should center the voices and perspectives of those most impacted by violence, including police violence, and not those of the wealthiest and most powerful.
Our organizations have been supportive of Mayor Jones’s commitment to transforming our City’s approach to public safety. Her critics have sought to label her as irresponsible for daring to challenge the arrest-and-incarcerate status quo, and her willingness to reject those critiques has been encouraging. Her commitment to holistic solutions to the problems of violence and other forms of harm—like investing millions of dollars into affordable housing and victim support services instead of persistently vacant SLMPD positions—is to be applauded.
But the most recent announcement is not in line with a transformative approach to public safety.
We need creativity. We need innovation. And we need to invite everyday community members to engage in a process of crafting responses that do not rely on police.
We call on Mayor Jones and her administration to stand firm in her earlier commitments to reject the status quo, and to repudiate the idea that more police equals more safety.
Action St. Louis
Coalition Against Police Crimes and Repression
Defund. Re-Envision. Transform.
Faith for Justice
Freedom Community Center
Missouri Faith Voices
Peace Economy Project
Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center
St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee