ST. LOUIS – Citing security concerns, Ferguson officials have postponed the community’s first city council meeting since the shooting of Michael Brown sparked two weeks of violence and racial unrest. The meeting was planned for Tuesday evening, but it has now been postponed indefinitely.
“After consultation with the Missouri State Highway Patrol, the St. Louis County Police Department, and the Ferguson Police Department, the Mayor and City Council of the City of Ferguson have made the difficult decision to postpone the City Council meeting,” the city said in a statement late Monday.
The meeting was expected to attract large crowds and protesters, and officials had planned for tight security, including metal detectors.
“Due to increased interest from residents wishing to attend this meeting, the City is searching for a larger venue to accommodate the anticipated attendance. Our priorities remain the safety and well-being of our residents and to allow for honest, productive communications,” the city’s statement continued, adding that a new date would be released soon.
Instead, the mayor and city council requested residents to send feedback “via postage paid comment cards,” which will be delivered to every home in the city this week. They also planned to create an online forum.
“The Mayor and City Council have a strong desire to hear public input and are committed to using that feedback to develop specific actions to be taken to restore the public trust and move our community forward in a positive direction,” the statement said.
Ferguson authorities, including Mayor James Knowles III, and especially the police department, have been sidelined during the turmoil. Instead, the Missouri State Highway Patrol has been in charge of security in areas affected by unrest. Relative calm has returned to Ferguson over the past several days. In the days after Brown’s death on Aug. 9, protesters clashed violently with police, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets at crowds of demonstrators.
At an event Sunday evening, officers from the Highway Patrol, St. Louis County, and St. Louis City police forces distributed meals to residents of the apartment complex where Brown lived. The Ferguson Police Department was not present.
Asked why his officers were not on the scene, Mayor Knowles replied, “You’d have to ask Capt. [Ron] Johnson,” the commanding officer of the Highway Patrol.