Category Archives: Local

Four St. Louis Cops Indicted for Assaulting Undercover Officer

Four St. Louis cops are under fire for beating one of their own.

Four St. Louis cops are under fire for beating one of their own.

By MCNS Staff

According to local reports, four St. Louis police officers have been indicted on federal charges surrounding the beating of an undercover cop during a protest and subsequent cover up last year.

Stltoday.com reports that the indictment also claims that several of the officers exchanged messages that “expressed disdain” for protesters and “excitement about using unjustified force against them and going undetected while doing so.”

Prosecutors accuse officers Dustin Boone, Randy Hays and Christopher Myers of throwing a 22-year police veteran to the ground, kicking and hitting him with a police baton on Sept. 17, 2017, in the midst of protests downtown that followed the acquittal of former police Officer Jason Stockley. Stockley was charged for murder for fatally shooting Anthony Lamar Smith. The indictment states that believing the undercover cop was a protester, the officers beat him “while he was compliant and not posing a physical threat to anyone.”

The fourth officer named in the indictment, Bailey Colletta, is accused of lying to a federal grand jury investigating the incident, in an apparent cover up for his colleagues. False information he gave included that he did not know any of the officers, when in fact, he was and still is in a live-in relationship with Hays.

According to local sources, all four officers are members of the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association, which is locally known for staunch opposition to protests and demonstrators.

After three officers learned that the person they assaulted was an undercover cop, they lied claiming that the man resisted arrest and was not complaint, the indictment states.

Identified only by the initials “L.H.,” which sources connecting age, gender and initials to “Luther Hall,” the undercover cop is said to have been inserted into demonstration crowds to detect criminal activity.

Another Ferguson Protester Dead

By S. Christopher Emerson

Bassem Masri

Bassem Masri

According to local reports, Bassem Masri, a Ferguson protester of Palestinian descent, died Tuesday morning after being found unresponsive on a bus in Bridgeton. The cause of death is yet to be officially determined, pending autopsy.

The St. Louis County Medical Examiner states that there appears to be nothing suspicious nor any trauma associated with Masri’s death.

The 31 year-old mainstay during the uprisings in Ferguson recently announced his intent to run for state representative.

Masri would often livestream demonstrations in the St. Louis metropolitan area to a national and international audience in the months long aftermath of the police killing of Michael Brown, Jr. by former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. He is known, loved and mourned by many protesters throughout the area.

Despite the medical examiner report, some observers suspect foul play as Masri is the latest of several connected to demonstrations in Ferguson who have died suddenly, or due to mysterious and violent circumstances. Most recently, Danye Jones, son of protester Melissa McKinnies, was found by family members hanged by a bedsheet on a tree behind their home. Though officials labelled Jones’s death a suicide, McKinnies states that her son would not have killed himself.

St. Louis County NAACP Has New President

By Free Radical

New St. Louis Count NAACP head John Gaskin III.

New St. Louis Count NAACP head John Gaskin III.

On Friday, it was announced that John Gaskin III will serve as the new president of the St. Louis County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

Gaskin III who is 26, replaces former legislator and long time president Esther Haywood. In accepting the position, Gaskin III, expresses his gratitude for Haywood’s leadership.

“I want to thank the Honorable Esther Haywood, because, if not for her, none of this would be possible. It was through her leadership and my parents … I got involved with the NAACP at the age of 9,” Gaskin said at a news  conference at the Chester Inn in Clayton.

Gaskin III, who is 26 works as a diversity and inclusion outreach manager for the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. He is also a member of the NAACP National Board of Directors.

Gaskin vowed to concentrate on education, employment, and criminal justice. Particularly he plans to establish a county police affairs committee led by St. Louis County Police Lt. Col. Troy Doyle.

On the technical front, the new president plans to lean more heavily on digital forms of communications for people to register civil rights complaints to the NAACP.

Shirley LeFlore Named New Poet Laureate

By Free Radical

Shirley LeFlore was selected as St. Louis's next poet laureate.

Shirley LeFlore was selected as St. Louis’s next poet laureate.

Critically acclaimed poet Shirley LeFlore has been announced as the new St. Louis poet laureate. LeFlore was officially sworn in on November 9 at City Hall.

“I feel very good about it because this is the town I was born in,” LeFlore said of receiving the honor. “I’m so happy. My history is deep with St. Louis. I’m 78 years old – and I’ve been doing this for 50 years.”

A native of St. Louis, LeFlore was a member of the locally revered Black Artists’ Group (BAG). In the 1970s, she founded the Messenger Singers, an ensemble composed of all women that performed with the likes of trumpeter Baikida Carroll, and the percussionist Famoudou Don Moye of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. As a solo artist,she has preformed with local R&B legend Fontella Bass.

LeFlore has also held various teaching and educational administration positions at St. Louis City, St. Louis County, Webster University and UMSL.

Though she has concentrated on spoken word poetry, her work has appeared in a wide range of books and her own Brassbones and Rainbows which was published in 2013.

The decision is nearly two years in the making as local officials rankled over who would succeed the city’s inaugural poet laureate Michael Castro. In December 2016, a specially appointed task force selected Jane Ellen Ibur as his successor. However, shortly after her selection it was revealed that  local poet and educator MK Stallings was allegedly removed from that committee when he voiced objections to Ibur’s nomination. Stallings was of the opinion that LeFlore should have been chosen as the poet laureate.

In late October, the committee reconvened and agreed that LeFlore would serve from November to April 2019 when Ibur becomes laureate.