Since the events of August 9, 2014, the St. Louis community has faced many questions concerning equality and social justice. As in any major metropolitan area, improvements can and must be made; there are many current initiatives in this region in this regard and additional efforts will be forthcoming.
While the vast majority of the demonstrations have been non-violent, you might have concerns about the effect that these events are having on the region as a whole and on individual attractions in the region. This FAQ is designed to provide you with a full and informed understanding as you plan your St. Louis experience. Should you have any questions, please call 877-724-7714 to speak with a destination specialist.
Ferguson is a municipality in St. Louis County, which is located approximately 10 miles northwest of downtown St. Louis. Most of the images seen in media reports are from a small section of this historic community.
While the need for social justice and racial equality is not unique to St. Louis, the events that have transpired in our region have helped ignite a critical national discussion on these issues. From New York to Los Angeles, communities across our country must carefully examine and address the issues that have led to inequality. Here in St. Louis, this process is already underway.
On the evening of Nov. 24, 2014, a Grand Jury selected by the St. Louis County Prosecutor returned a “no true bill” in its investigation of former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson’s shooting of 18-year old Michael Brown Jr. on August 9, 2014. The announcement, as well as the incident sparked demonstrations in Ferguson, Clayton (the seat of St. Louis County Government) and portions of South St. Louis City. The vast majority of demonstrations have been non-violent and representative of the democratic process of our nation at work. However, as seen on news outlets across the country, some of these demonstrations turned violent with looting, destruction of property and arrests of those participating in criminal activities.
The following article from the New York Times details the events on Nov. 24, 2014 and the community’s reaction to the grand jury announcement
Non-violent protests occurred in locations throughout the St. Louis area, including Ferguson, the Shaw Neighborhood in South St. Louis City, Clayton (the county-seat of St. Louis County), shopping malls and stores, and various locations in downtown St. Louis (including, City Hall, the Justice Center and other public buildings). In almost all cases, these were peaceful demonstrations, which have since spread to cities across the United States.
During these events, demonstrators have marched along streets and sidewalks, chanted and in some cases conducted what is referred to by the media as “die-ins.” This is a symbolic peaceful act of lying down to create a visual representation in honor of Michael Brown and others. These events are often led by clergy, college students and others who are peacefully trying to make their voices heard. In all instances, local law enforcement have worked to protect the safety of demonstrators and carefully manage the surrounding areas.
The following story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch discusses one such protest in downtown St. Louis, where demonstrators (under close supervision of law enforcement) briefly closed a section of I-44.
Visitors can be assured that St. Louis is as safe as any other major metropolitan area in the U.S. At the Convention & Visitors Commission, the safety of residents and visitors to our region is our utmost priority. We work closely with officials and local law enforcement to ensure the safety of attendees at events throughout our region.
As you may have seen in news reports, there have been isolated instances where individuals have attempted to use this time for advancement of their own agendas. These activities are not reflective of our community and are not productive in moving the discussion forward to make real lasting change. Local law enforcement officers are trained to identify and manage these individuals.
As part of our normal operations, our security team works closely with Chief Sam Dotson and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to ensure the safety of event attendees at America’s Center and the Edward Jones Dome.
We also understand the concerns some may have regarding policing and the practices of local law enforcement. This is one of the most important tasks given to Gov. Nixon’s Ferguson Commission, which is responsible for developing plans and recommendations in several areas, including racial profiling, community policing and continuing education requirements for law enforcement professionals. More information on these efforts can be found on the Commission’s Web site (www.stlpositivechange.org).
The night of the grand jury announcement, non-peaceful activities occurred in Ferguson and on Grand Avenue in South St. Louis City. Despite the efforts of peaceful protestors, law enforcement and others, unfortunate criminal acts took place that included the looting of businesses, destruction of police vehicles and several buildings in Ferguson and surrounding communities. It is important to note that these events were isolated to property damage and a limited geographic scope, and did not affect the majority of the region.
The following story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch highlights the events that occurred on the evening of Monday, Nov. 24, 2014 in Ferguson.
Our hotels, restaurants, attractions and transportation infrastructure have been largely unaffected by recent events. Visitors continue to arrive by air, by train or by car, they use the MetroLink light rail or travel the interstates that connect the region with the rest of the country. There has been no negative impact in getting to, from or around the metropolitan area and visitors have continued to enjoy all of the attractions St. Louis has to offer.
There have been no cancellations of meetings or events planned or hosted by the Convention & Visitors Commission. In fact, we continue to book events for both short and long term dates. The St. Louis region has hosted hundreds of conferences and events for hundreds of thousands of attendees. These were met with great success and enjoyment for the participants. The events combined with leisure tourism activity have resulted in continued strong hotel performance through the region.
Looking to the future, our 2015 Convention Calendar is strong and features groups such as FIRST Robotics Championship, American Society of Mass Spectrometry, Herbalife International of America, Stifel Nicolaus and the Urbana Mission Convention.
Click here to listen to what the members of our National Customer Advisory Board had to say about their experience meeting in St. Louis on December 3-5, 2014.
As in any major metropolitan area, improvements can and must be made in equality. Across the St. Louis region there are many initiatives already underway in this regard and additional efforts will be forthcoming. From volunteers stepping up to help business owners recover, to the creation of the Ferguson Commission, key steps are underway to bring St. Louis forward. For more information on some of these efforts, we encourage you to visit www.STLForward.com and the Web site of the newly established Ferguson Commission www.stlpositivechange.org.
Click to see images of murals painted on plywood and colorful ribbons
Individuals wishing to help support the Ferguson community can contribute to the Reinvest North County Fund, which has been organized by the St. Louis Regional Business Council. The fund provides relief to small businesses and schools that have been impacted. To make a donation or learn more, visit http://givver.com/north-county-inc/ferguson.
The U.S. Small Business Administration is also working to assist impacted business owners. Some of these recovery efforts are highlighted by St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, as well as the following story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Click here to see an emotional video tribute to Ferguson performed by Nao Yoshioka.