St. Louis Public Radio News
12:13 pm
Thu July 31, 2003

Sharpton Leads Protest at Metrolink Celebration

St. Louis – The Reverend Al Sharpton and a group of protestors disrupted MetroLink's 10th anniversary celebration Thursday at Union Station.

Sharpton said he will return to St. Louis in less than two weeks unless officials make progress on including more minority-owned contractors on the MetroLink extension project.

"We expect to have serious dialogue, and come up with a serious solution within ten days," Sharpton said. "If we cannot in conversation, move forward in ten days, I will be back prepared to lead civil disobedience."

Metro has a goal of 20 percent minority participation on the project, but has achieved less than five percent.

Metro president Larry Salci said there are not enough minority-owned firms in the area to achieve the goal.

"I have not received one single complaint from one minority contractor claiming that they have not gotten any work -not one," Salci said. "We have employed probably 75 different minority firms on the five contracts we've awarded to date."

Salci said Metro's general contractors must make good-faith efforts to include minority subcontractors, and advocates for minority contractors should encourage the growth of new firms. He said many minority firms have gone out of business in the last five years.