St. Louis Public Radio News
6:35 pm
Mon March 1, 2010

Opponents of DOJ report in Kirkwood unveil their own plan for the city

St. Louis – A group of Kirkwood citizens who rejected a mediation agreement designed to address racial tensions in the city is set to release its own plan.

The city drafted the document with the help of the US Department of Justice after Cookie Thornton, a disgruntled resident of Meacham Park, the city's predominately black neighborhood, shot and killed five people at a City Council meeting on February 7, 2008. The dead included two council members and two police officers. Thornton was also shot and killed. Former mayor Mike Swoboda died seven months later of his injuries.

A group calling themselves the Coalition for Equality says the city's document does nothing to address the ongoing issues. They released their own version Monday night that includes language acknowledging the city's racial history, and a proposed citizen's review board.

Janie von Kaenel, who helped draft both the original and counter proposals, calls the city's version a "whitewash."

"The city's mediation report, it just doesn't answer the questions, it raises more questions than answers, it avoids addressing the divisive issue of race," she said. She said opponents are especially upset about the lack of a citizen review board to deal with complaints about the police department.

Officials on the mediation team would not comment without seeing the counter proposal.