Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

Stephanie Lecci

Newscast Producer

Stephanie Lecci comes to St. Louis Public Radio from WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio, where she was coordinating and web producer of the news magazine show, "Lake Effect."

Her previous radio experience includes freelance producing and reporting for WBEZ Chicago Public Radio and serving as associate producer for the nationally syndicated political radio show, "Beyond the Beltway with Bruce DuMont." Stephanie hails from Long Island, N.Y., and graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Paul Eaton of Piedmont burns a Rams sweatshirt during an event calling for a boycott of the team on Sunday in Imperial.
Stephanie Lecci

With the televisions at Gators South Beer and Wine Garden in Imperial set to anything but the Rams game on Sunday, Cathy Brown of St. Charles was tossing two Rams hats into a fire pit out on the bar's back patio.

"They are on their way to burning," she said, lobbing a Santa hat bearing a Rams logo on the pile. "Good-bye."

Brown was one of at least two dozen people who came to the bar to burn their Rams gear, as part of an event organized by a group of supporters of former Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson and law enforcement.

USA Gymnastics COO Ron Galimore (right), accompanied by Olympic gymnast Jake Dalton, said St. Louis offers the right environment for the men's Olympic team trials in 2016.
Stephanie Lecci

St. Louis will get the Olympic spirit come 2016, when it will host the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for men's gymnastics.

The event determines which men will represent the U.S. in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics. While it's the city's first time hosting Olympic trials, the city has worked with USA Gymnastics previously, hosting the organization's 2000 and 2012 national championships. Those events decide national champions as well as who continues on to Olympic trials.

Ferguson City Manager John Shaw, Mayor James Knowles and Police Chief Tom Jackson on Sunday, November 30, 2014.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 6:06 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30, with a response from Ferguson city officials.

Ferguson city officials confirmed Sunday that Darren Wilson is no longer a member of the Ferguson Police Department.

NAACP President Cornell William Brooks leads first day of march to Jefferson City on Saturday, November 29, 2014.
Camille Phillips/St. Louis Public Radio

About 150 people set out from Ferguson Saturday on the first leg of a seven-day, 134 mile march to end racial profiling organized by the NAACP. Some participants, such as NAACP president Cornell William Brooks, plan on walking all the way to the governor’s mansion in Jefferson City.

Others, such as Tim and Tia Swain, are walking a day or two. The couple drove out from Indianapolis to be part of the action, but have work commitments later in the week.

Tia Swain said she and her husband are marching for equal access to justice regardless of skin color.

The Fashions R Boutique was one of 13 businesses in Dellwood that burned down during Monday's riots following the announcement of the Darren Wilson grand jury decision.
Stephanie Lecci | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Echoing the mayor of neighboring city Ferguson, the mayor of Dellwood is adding his voice to the criticism of Gov. Jay Nixon and demanding answers in the aftermath of Monday's riots.

Mayor Reggie Jones said Dellwood was promised its business district would be protected by National Guard troopers, but he said "they failed to arrive."

While Ferguson has "gotten more attention," Jones said, his city saw the most damage and he wants to make sure his city also gets the resources it needs to recover. 

(Nancy Fowler | St. Louis Public Radio)

Smoke filled the air on more than one corner in the city of Ferguson Tuesday morning, following a night of turmoil.

The unrest followed a grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 9. Brown's parents, St. Louis officials and even President Barack Obama called on demonstrators to protest peacefully and many did.

But still-smoldering buildings bear witness to the anger that erupted into destruction. About one dozen businesses were reportedly burned.

Tear gas was used in Ferguson. Nov. 24 2014
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Protesters and law enforcement officers may have hoped for calm. But reaction to news of the grand jury’s decision to not indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of Michael Brown ended in arson, looting and tear gas.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon speaking Monday at a news conference before the grand jury announcement on Monday, Nov 25, 2014
Bill Greenblatt | UPI | File photo

Within minutes after St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch announced that the grand jury did not recommend that Darren Wilson face indictment for the shooting death of Michael Brown, reactions from area politicians came quickly. 

Before and after the grand jury’s decision was made public, area officials made clear Monday night that they understood the stakes.

Sam's Meat Market in Ferguson. November 21, 2014
Maria Altman / St. Louis Public Radio

As the wait goes on for an announcement by the Darren Wilson grand jury, people, businesses and organizations are taking steps to prepare for possible unrest. There are random anecdotes of parents preparing to bring their children home early from school, and businesses developing plans for locking down under duress.

But there are also more concrete plans in the works.

School closings

The Missouri National Guard has been called up by Gov. Jay Nixon to assist local police with security after a grand jury decision is announced in the Michael Brown case. Typically, Guard troopers are called in to respond to emergencies, like natural disas
(Via Flickr/USACEPublicAffairs/By Carlos J. Lazo)

After he declared a state of emergency, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has been coy about exactly when and how many National Guard troops will come to the St. Louis area ahead of a grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case.

The Missouri Department of Public Safety also declined to give such "operational details" on Wednesday.

But to understand how the National Guard works generally, St. Louis Public Radio reached out to a department spokesman as well as a professor in Department of Military and Veterans Studies at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

via Wikimedia Commons

 

(Updated at 6:40 p.m., Fri., Nov. 14)

St. Louis was not selected on Friday as a host city for any future NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Final Four competition between 2017 and 2021.

Instead, the NCAA announced that competitors Phoenix, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Atlanta and Indianapolis will host, in that order.

Chris Roseman of the St. Louis Sports Commission was part of the team that represented St. Louis in the selection process. He said the group put together a “very sound bid,” but said "it wasn’t meant to be."

website

Updated 5:30 p.m. Nov. 14 with new review.

The St. Louis International Film Festival is underway with enough options to ensure that almost everyone can find something of interest.

Some of us in the newsroom of St. Louis Public Radio checked out the list of offerings and asked to review films that caught our interest. As you check out our mini reviews, you should know that several of the movies we requested were not available and that some of us asked for more than time permitted. These are just a taste of what is available.

Attorney for the family of Michael Brown Anthony Gray said private forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden testified Thursday before the grand jury, but would not speak to what he said. UPI/Bill Greenblatt
UPI/Bill Greenblatt

The forensic pathologist hired by Michael Brown's family to perform a private autopsy testified Thursday before the grand jury considering whether to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in Brown's fatal shooting.

Attorneys for the family would not elaborate on what exactly Dr. Michael Baden said to the grand jury.

"He believes...that the substance of his testimony should be left to the purview of the grand jury, so in respecting the process, we won’t be able to comment on that this morning," said family attorney Benjamin Crump at a press conference Thursday.

A feasibility study on a potential St. Louis bike share system just released its results, noting while there is big demand here, it is less than that in a city like Washington, D.C. (pictured here).
Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz, via Wikipedia

New recommendations from the St. Louis Bike Share Feasibility Study are calling for an initial phase involving 540 bicycles at an initial cost of up to $3.3 million.

Several local gun stores are reporting an increased demand for tactical weapons and training.
(via Flickr/Foxtongue)

Several St. Louis area gun shops are reporting a spike in sales, and some are attributing it, in part, to preparations ahead of an expected grand jury decision in the Michael Brown case.

About two-thirds of the local gun stores St. Louis Public Radio spoke with report increased sales. Two stores, Marco Polo Outfitters in Chesterfield and Butterfield Gun Works in Ballwin, said they haven't seen a significant jump in sales.

Other stores said it's typical to see more sales at this time of year, thanks to deer season and the start of holiday shopping.

Bicyclist Phil Leachman donned turkey attire for Sunday's ninth annual Cranksgiving bike ride and food drive in Maplewood.
Stephanie Lecci

Bicycles, tricycles, recumbent cycles and tandems were lined up on the street in front of Schlafly Bottleworks in Maplewood on Sunday, but the sight of a man dressed helmet-to-pedal in a turkey costume made it obvious this wasn't a typical bike race.

Rather it was the ninth annual St. Louis "Cranksgiving" bike ride and food drive, sponsored by St. Louis BWorks. The non-profit offers free classes to help children learn about and earn a bicycle or a computer. 

peter.a photography | Flickr

Missouri advocates for legalizing marijuana are hoping to capitalize on momentum after several Election Day wins across the country.

The organization Show-Me Cannabis filed a petition Wednesday to amend the state's constitution to allow the recreational use, possession and regulation of marijuana for adults over 21. The group would have to get about 165,000 signatures in order for an amendment initiative to be put on the 2016 statewide ballot, according to executive director John Payne.

Payne said he is confident Show-Me Cannabis can get the needed signatures.

Stock photo of paper ballot
sxc.hu

(Updated 1:45 a.m., Wed, Nov. 5)

St. Louis County election officials are considering changes in how many paper ballots to print and how to train polling place staff for the next election cycle, said Democratic director of elections Rita Days.

The reassessment comes after an unexpected demand for paper ballots caused a shortage at about 95 polling places throughout the county Tuesday. That's more than 20 percent of the county's 444 balloting sites.

The trees that are slated for removal on the Arch grounds are marked with a pink ribbon.
Rebecca Smith/St. Louis Public Radio

The National Park Service will start removing 1,200 trees on the Gateway Arch grounds in earnest on Monday. 

The removal is part of a years-long project by CityArchRiver to renovate the popular tourist attraction, and it could start as early as Friday, according to the group's communications director Ryan McClure. He said the first few trees are coming down Friday to move in construction equipment.

U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, left, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Attorney General Eric Holder met on Wednesday to talk about the killing of Michael Brown.
Provided by the office of Rep. Clay

U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, has asked the Justice Department to investigate municipal courts in St. Louis and St. Louis County.  

In his letter to Acting Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, Clay wrote that “the court system operates mostly as a revenue source for the state and county, with little oversight.”

The St. Louis Police Wives' Association works to support law enforcement officers and their families.
SLPWA website

As protests have continued in the St. Louis area following August's police shooting of Michael Brown, it's not just responding officers who are feeling the strain. It's also affecting their families.

One St. Louis organization that specifically provides support for police and their families is now reporting that it has doubled in size in recent weeks. And other members of police families are becoming more vocal and public with their support for law enforcement.

Toll on families

Committee chairman and former mayor Brian Fletcher talks with a resident and a volunteer about the "I Love Ferguson" new store that will sell items including the logo-bearing T-shirts.
Stephanie Lecci / St. Louis Public Radio

You've seen the lawn signs; now everything from T-shirts to coffee mugs bearing the "I Love Ferguson" logo will be sold at a new store opening Friday.

Dr. Cyril Wecht marks the location of the likely fatal head shot as he presents his initial autopsy results on Vonderrit Myers, Jr.
Rebecca Smith/St. Louis Public Radio

The initial findings of a private autopsy on the body of Vonderrit Myers, Jr., released Thursday, show the 18-year-old was shot several times from behind. 

Myers was fatally shot by an off-duty St. Louis police officer on October 8th in the city's Shaw neighborhood, after police say Myers fired at the officer.

According to their attorneys, the family ordered the autopsy because they believe the police are giving inaccurate accounts of what happened. 

Emanuele Berry|St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10 p.m., with evening demonstrations.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Justice is calling leaks in the local  investigation of Michael Brown's death "irresponsible" and "highly troubling."

"There seems to be an inappropriate effort to influence public opinion about this case," Dena Iverson told St. Louis Public Radio in a written statement.

The "selective release of information," according to Iverson, goes as far back as August when footage was released  showing Michael Brown in a conflict at a Ferguson convenience store.

According to the Missouri Department of Conservation, deer populations will offer plenty of hunting opportunities this year, as numbers are recovering from disease outbreaks across the state.
Noppadol Paothong, Missouri Department of Conservation

It's good news for hunters, but maybe bad news for drivers: the Missouri Department of Conservation says the state will see a pretty good deer population this year.

Many parts of the state should see a "large and healthy deer herd" this season, after years of declining populations, according to the department's Jim Low. He estimates the state has more than a million deer, offering "plenty of deer hunting opportunity out there."

Recovery from disease

Police are facing increasingly hostile, anti-law enforcement crowds as protests continue in the St. Louis area.
Stephanie Lecci

Since Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Michael Brown in August, police have been facing hostile protests with often a strong anti-law enforcement bent.

Chants of "No justice, no peace" have been mixed with much more violent anti-police messages, including threats of shooting down police helicopters and other vulgar terms.

But it's not just shouts being hurled at police; they've also had Molotov cocktails, rocks, and bottles of urine thrown their way, even been spit at and fired upon.

Police response to violence

St. Louis Police Officers Association president Joe Steiger, business manager Jeff Roorda and attorney Brian Millikan comment on the lab tests that found gun residue on the hand of Vonderrit Myers during a press conference Tuesday.
Stephanie Lecci

Lab results show gunshot residue was found on the 18-year-old who was fatally shot by an off-duty St. Louis police officer in the Shaw neighborhood last week, according to new information released by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department Tuesday.

The tests were conducted by the Missouri State Highway Patrol's crime lab. The results found gunshot residue on Vonderrit Myers, Jr.'s, hand, inner waistband, front and back jeans pockets and black t-shirt. The released statement also read: 

Emanuele Berry|St. Louis Public Radio

As protests continue, a movement supporting law enforcement is gaining traction.

Some St. Louis area residents are organizing a supply drive, collecting prepackaged food and toiletries for police officers. The drive was the brainchild of North County native Katrina, who asked that her last name not be used for safety reasons. Her father and relatives are high ranking members of local public safety departments.

Rebecca Smith| St. Louis Public Radio

Onlookers watched from tall office buildings as about 300 rain soaked protesters marched through Clayton Friday afternoon.

The event marked the start of Ferguson October, a series of rallies, marches, and educational events that will run through Monday. Organizers hope this weekend’s events will build momentum for a nationwide movement against police violence and will keep focus on Michael Brown's shooting.

A report being considered by the St. Louis parking commission suggests increasing parking rates in the city. That would help fund upgraded meters, like this one that takes credit cards.
Paul Sableman, Flickr

St. Louis' coin-only parking meters may get a technology upgrade, but it might cost you more to use them.

On Thursday, the city's parking commission reviewed initial recommendations to raise parking rates by next year. The suggestions come from a preliminary report commissioned by the city that evaluates its parking system. 

The commission is considering raising hourly meter rates from $1 to $1.50 in busy downtown areas, and from $0.75 to $1 in lower demand areas. Some violation fees also would increase.

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