Category Archives: Local

Judge Panel Meets Again to Review Williams Case

By Free Radical

Inconsistencies have been found in the trial that sentenced Marcellus Williams to death. A panel of judges iscurrently reviewing his case.

Inconsistencies have been found in the trial that sentenced Marcellus Williams to death. A panel of judges is currently reviewing his case.

A specially convened panel reviewed the death sentence of Marcellus Williams Wednesday and heard arguments that will ultimately decide his fate.

In 2001 Williams was convicted of the murder of former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Lisha Gayle who was stabbed to death in her University City Home in 1998.

In 2015, Williams had his execution postponed to conduct DNA testing which had not been available at the time of his trial. This testing proved that the DNA found on the knife that killed Gayle was not his but belonged to an unidentified male.

Even with this revelation, the state’s high court denied Williams’s petition to stop the execution.

Former Missouri governor Eric Greitens, sensing the inconsistencies in his trial, stepped in last August and postponed Williams’s execution and appointed five judges to review his case and determine if the death sentence was warranted.

Governor Mike Parson continued the panel after Greitens resigned. The judges have already met in November 2017, March 2018, and June 2018.

Though Williams faces an uphill battle, the fact that his case has gotten this far is promising. According to Stacey Pratt, who heads Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, “A person of color who is facing a capital sentence is 14 times more likely to receive one of the victim is a white female.”

Many believe that the new DNA findings are compelling enough to exonerate him. Nimrod Chapel, the president of the Missouri NAACP and has expressed strong support for Williams, noted “The evidence that’s been presented would indicate that he needs a fair shake at justice.”

Family and Activists Rebuild Michael Brown Memorial

MCNS Staff

Michael Brown Sr. reflects at his son's memorial in Ferguson, Missouri.

Michael Brown Sr. reflects at his son’s memorial in Ferguson, Missouri.

An 18 year-old Black boy whose name became synonymous with the social justice movement is being remembered on the eve of the fourth anniversary of his shooting death.

Family and friends of Michael Brown, Jr. were joined by activists Wednesday in rebuilding a memorial honoring him in the middle of Canfield Drive in Ferguson, MO. Balloons, flowers, teddy bears, candles and other love offerings were placed down in the street as they had been four years ago, as well as around a plaque commemorating Brown, Jr. on the sidewalk nearby.

Among the many words expressed at the rebuild, participants acknowledged the victories resulting from months of protest and shifts in local and national politics, including the ouster of county prosecutor Robert McCulloch the day before by former Ferguson city council member Wesley Bell. McCulloch, who fielded widespread scrutiny during his investigation of the shooting, announced in November 2014 that the county had decided not to indict Darren Wilson who killed Brown, Jr. This lead to a resurgence of protests which lasted for weeks.

Michael Brown, Jr. was killed on August 9, 2014 after being approached by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson while walking to his grandmother’s home. After aggressive questioning, Brown, who was unarmed with hands raised, was struck with nine shots from Wilson.

Former Chief Candidate Alleges Discrimination

MCNS Staff

Lawrence O'Toole, former St. Louis acting police chief was not chosen on a permanent basis.

Lawrence O’Toole, former St. Louis acting police chief was not chosen on a permanent basis.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (STLMPD) Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence O’Toole has filed a complaint accusing the city of employment discrimination based on race/color and retaliation.

The City of St. Louis has confirmed that they received the complaint earlier this month.

O’Toole was appointed Acting Police Chief following former Chief Sam Dotson’s attempt at the mayor’s seat and departure from his post in April 2017. During his time as acting chief, O‘Toole was widely criticized for his handling of several peaceful protests, including an action downtown in which police used a crowd control tactic called “kettling” which resulted in over 120 arrests of protestors and members of the media.

A panel of city officials conducted a national search for Dotson’s replacement. O’Toole, who is White, was among six finalists.

In December 2017, city officials announced that a Black candidate, John Hayden, who is a St. Louis native and 30-year veteran of the STLMPD, would be the new chief. Activists and the police union celebrated the decision as a step toward healing deep racial wounds in the city.

Local new outlets have learned that O’Toole’s complaint stems from the testing procedure during the selection process.

A representative from the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, where the complaint was filed, stated that the complaint document is not a public record. Officials confirm a separate complaint was also filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

“That’s unfortunate; that’s just not the case,” Mayor Lyda Krewson said.

Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards has confirmed receiving the complaint and will answer within 30 days.

“People’s Ribbon Cutting” Responds to #ArchSoWhite

By MCNS Staff

The "People's Ribbon Cutting" held last Friday emphasized inclusivity.

The “People’s Ribbon Cutting” held last Friday emphasized inclusivity.

St. Louis mayor Lyda Krewson found herself in an optics nightmare as she tweeted a picture of twenty-one white officials cutting a ribbon at the Arch on Tuesday.

Later on Friday “The People’s Ribbon Cutting,” so named by Treasurer Tishaura Jones, was a second event organized to be a more inclusive ceremony than the reopening of the Arch museum event held the previous Tuesday. The diverse gathering of officials and leaders included the treasurer, Rep. Bruce Franks and Board of Aldermen president Lewis Reed.

Friday’s ribbon cutting was the result of an outcry at the lack of diversity at the earlier gathering, highlighted by the hashtag #ArchSoWhite. The tag line immediately went viral and is reported to have been created by Franks.

Some speakers at Friday’s event talked about how Black residents were displaced from their homes to make way for the Arch during its construction.

Local reports state the Gateway Arch Park Foundation issued an apology. A statement from the group said they invited “political leaders from the St. Louis region at the federal, state and local levels to participate on stage at the event.” That statement went on to say that “we did not invite some elected officials who represent the park to participate on stage at the event and we should have done so.”

Twenty-one officials including St. Louis city mayor Lyda Krewson, County Executive Steve Stenger and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)  and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) lined up for a ribbon cutting photo op in front of the Gateway Arch last Tuesday. The problem is that there was not one single Black official or other leader of color in the photo.

According to local reports, several Black elected officials – including Comptroller Darlene Green, Treasurer Tishaura Jones, and President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed – said they were not invited to participate in the ribbon cutting. A staffer for U.S. Rep Lacy Wm. Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis) said Clay was invited but had already scheduled a vacation with his son.

This isn’t the first time controversy has surrounded the Arch. In July 1964, local activist Percy Green II climbed about 125 feet high on the structure and *refused to leave as an act of civil disobedience. He and white ally Richard Daly were protesting that no Black workers or contractors were hired for the Arch project. The action and legislation sponsored by Ald. Terry Kennedy (D-18th) has led to an increase in minority inclusion in city projects.