Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio

Chelsea Hoye

News Intern
Matt Palozola greets friends at a fundraiser for the Zola Initiative, a nonprofit he started in honor of his brother. Dec. 15, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When Tom Palozola arrived at Webster University after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, he struggled to fit in with his younger classmates. But he found solace in in the Student Veterans Organization.

As its president, Palozola worked tirelessly to acquire a grant to open a campus veterans center. He envisioned it as a refuge for veterans who also felt like campus outsiders.  

Palozola had suffered a traumatic brain injury when a roadside bomb exploded in Afghanistan. He struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and died by suicide last May.

Crews with Rosenbloom Monuments Company lift headstones back onto their bases in February, 2017.
File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The number of hate crimes reported in the United States rose for the second year in a row, according to an FBI report released on Monday.

Law-enforcement agencies reported more than 6,100 hate crimes in 2016, about a 5 percent increase from the previous year. Jews and Muslims were most likely to be targeted, and more than half of all reports were motivated by either race or ethnicity.

Missouri reported 88 hate crimes last year, down from 100 in 2015. Illinois reported 111 hate crimes in 2016, up from 90 the previous year. Some observers say many hate crimes likely go unreported by authorities and victims.

The Rev. Dinah Tatman and faith leaders speak in support of the economic boycott on Nov. 2, 2017.
Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio

As protests over the Jason Stockley verdict continue in St. Louis, the persistent chant of “no justice, no profits ” can be heard. Now, that credo is being put into action.

Community activists are using the upcoming holiday season as an opportunity to launch an economic boycott campaign from “any entities that do not respect us or our purchasing power” said the Rev. Dinah Tatman, CEO and founder of Greater New Vision Ministries Inc. in St. Louis.

Sign at a homeless tent encampment on sidewalk in downtown St. Louis on Oct. 26, 2017.
File photo | Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio

For a group of homeless people who've been living in tents on a downtown St. Louis sidewalk, it's the end of the road. 

Thursday was the deadline imposed by the city for them to leave the site.

In an act of solidarity, community activists gathered Thursday morning near Tucker Boulevard and Biddle Street to hand out food, winter clothes, and bus tickets to people who are homeless.

City officials had earlier announced that those in the tents would have to vacate the sidewalk, citing safety concerns.

St. Louis police arrest a protester in September, 2017.
File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Two protesters testified on Monday that they did not receive a warning before St. Louis police deployed pepper spray on them on Sept. 15.

The American Civil Liberty Union of Missouri claims that police officers violated the constitutional rights of protesters following St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson's Sept. 15 decision to find former police officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the 2011 murder of Anthony Lamar Smith.

The ACLU has asked U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry to order police to limit when officers can give dispersal warnings or use chemical agents.

"Right now in St. Louis, pepper spray is the new fire hose," Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said during his closing argument.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Three St. Louis police officers told a federal judge on Thursday that the police response to protesters in St. Louis on Sept. 17 was handled lawfully under police policies.

Their testimony came on the second day of hearings on a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Missouri. The suit alleged that officers violated the constitutional rights of protesters when they used chemical agents and arrested protesters and bystanders without warning.

Sgt. Brian Rossomano told U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry that police ordered the crowd to to disperse. But ACLU officials say St. Louis police officers are allowed too much discretion when responding to the protesters.

St. Louis Alderwoman Sharon Tyus answers questions from fellow public safety committee members on Oct. 10, 2017.
Chelsea Hoye | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

A St. Louis Board of Aldermen committee has taken the first step to hear testimony from interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole.

Members of the board’s public safety committee on Tuesday approved a resolution sponsored by Alderwoman Sharon Tyus, D-1st Ward. Tyus wants to question O’Toole about police department practices in response to protesters. The move comes after protests over former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Courtesy of Better Together

Discussions to merge the St. Louis city and county governments are underway by city residents.

About 100 people came out to a town hall meeting Monday night to express their support and concerns for a consolidation.

The nonprofit organization Better Together has organized a series of community discussions to encourage area residents to share their perspectives.

Marius Johnson-Malone is deputy director of community-based studies for the organization. He said he was encouraged by the crowd’s discussion.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson congratulates business owners and residents of South Grand Boulevard on Oct. 4, 2017.
Chelsea Hoye| ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

South Grand Boulevard in St. Louis has been named one of this year's five Great Streets on the American Planning Association’s Great Places in America list.

The nonprofit organization recognizes streets and public places across the country that demonstrate "exceptional character, quality, and planning — attributes that enrich communities, facilitate economic growth, and inspire others around the country."

“It’s the stories, the memories, and the people that continue to make a street and a community great,” said Jim Drinan, CEO of the American Planning Association.

Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart
File photo I Chris McDaniel I St. Louis Public Radio

Jeff Roorda, the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, is running to become the next county executive of Jefferson County.

It’s the latest electoral pursuit for Roorda, a former Democratic state representative who has attracted local and national attention, and controversy, for his law enforcement advocacy after several police-involved killings in the St. Louis area.

An Amtrak train approaches the Kirkwood train station as officers hand out railway safety information on Sept. 26, 2017.
Chelsea Hoye | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

Local, state, and federal transportation departments have teamed up with local police, Amtrak and the nonprofit organization Operation Lifesaver in a week-long campaign to warn against trespassing on railroad tracks.

This project’s goal is to reduce the number of deaths by train across the United States. Police enforcement is stationed across the nation in places where high numbers of vehicle or trespassing deaths have taken place.

Panelists at Harris-Stowe University discuss racial inequality on Sept. 21, 2017.
Chelsea Hoye | ST. LOUIS PUBLIC RADIO

As the St. Louis region manages the ongoing unrest sparked by a judge’s decision to acquit a white former police officer in the death of a black man, civil rights activists say it’s past time for the city to address the policies that have long kept black people behind.

St. Louis must put an end to systemic racism if conditions are to improve for African-Americans, community leaders said Thursday during a panel discussion at Harris-Stowe University.

“Education is freedom; it allows you choices,” state Sen. Jamilah Nasheed said. “It allows you to go to the next level.”

The Rev. Linden Bowie holds his hands up for six minutes on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, to mark six years between the death of Anthony Lamar Smith and the acquittal of ex-St. Louis officer Jason Stockley during a vigil and march downtown.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

On the fifth day after the Jason Stockley verdict was announced, protesters mostly rested Tuesday while faith leaders converged on downtown St. Louis to call for change. And near the city’s jail, a half-dozen people are committed to camping out until everyone who was arrested Sunday night is released.

The Mississippi River as seen Sept. 13, 2017, from the Four Seasons Hotel in Laclede's Landing at St. Louis.
Chelsea Hoye | St. Louis Public Radio

Leaders of Mississippi River communities want to update and upgrade their infrastructure, but said Wednesday they’ll need outside financial help.

The Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative held its annual meeting in St. Louis. About 30 mayors were there to talk about how their communities can survive natural disasters like hurricanes Harvey and Irma. The mayors also discussed strategies for attracting private investments for city improvements.