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Government, Politics & Issues

White crosses in north St. Louis County bear witness to region's homicide count

A white cross for every homicide in St. Louis and St. Louis County this year line the lawn of Mount Beulah Missionary Baptist Church Dec. 6, 2015.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio
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A white cross for every homicide in St. Louis and St. Louis County this year line the lawn of Mount Beulah Missionary Baptist Church Dec. 6, 2015.

If you drive down Page Avenue between now and the end of the year, you’ll see row upon row of small white crosses lined up in front of Mount Beulah Missionary Baptist Church.

All told, the Hanley Hills church lawn has at least 220 crosses — one for each known homicide this year in St. Louis or St. Louis County. Crosses will be added as needed throughout December.

“It seems to be just the order of the day, it’s a norm, and we must call attention. It’s just outrageous and it should not be,” said Mount Beulah's pastor , theRev. E.G. Shields.

Shields said he hopes seeing the crosses makes people think about how they can help stop the violence.

“I wish there was some magic wand. I wish there was some panacea that we could use to get rid of all these murders but there isn’t. And the only thing that as a people of faith that we can do is to pray,” Shields said.  

This is the second year Mount Beulah has displayed the crosses. Homicides spiked in St. Louis last year by around 30 percent. St. Louis is on track to repeat that increase again this year. As of the end of November city police had recorded 180 homicides, 21 more than 2014’s total. St. Louis County police records indicate there have been 32 homicides so far.

Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.

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