CLAYTON, MO (KPLR) – What began as a rally to thank law enforcement officers Saturday in Clayton turned into a debate and at times a shouting match once protestors from Ferguson arrived.
About 75 individuals traded chants and argued their points of view for two hours at the corner of Forsyth and Central Ave. "We support our police; we support our police," yelled one group. "You support police brutality," retorted another demonstrator.
The demonstration occurred outside the St. Louis County Police Department. County Chief Jon Belmar attended a portion of the event. "The police department really appreciates the support of the group that came out today," Belmar said adding, “It means a lot to us."
As for the critics Belmar sees some improvement. "I hope we can get to the point where we can begin to have conversations and perhaps stop some of the yelling back and forth," he said. At that point, the chief said he believes "we can begin to perhaps take some positive steps forward for everybody and I think that's gonna be helpful."
Protest leader Bishop Derrick Robinson explained, "We support the police, but we don't support senseless killing." Recent police involved shootings have not resulted in any indictments of officers. Pastor Robinson said it is time police stop using racial profiling. "That should never be in our community. We're not bad people; we're not criminals and we don't want to be classified as such,” he added.
The organizer of the pro-police rally, Trish Dennison of Metro east said, "I did not see a lot of support for the officers. It just broke my heart that no one was standing up for them..if no one is gonna do it I'm gonna try." Her group St. Louis Area Support Our LEO (Law enforcement officer) has a Facebook page. Another rally or march is in the planning stages for this spring.