Police and Community Seek Solutions and Begin Action Plan to Impact St. Louis in “Let Your Voice Be Heard” Open Forum
*News and photos courtesy of Gospel PR and other associated parties.
St. Louis, MO — St. Louis Hip-Hip artist, Thi’sl, gathered hundreds of youth, young adults, police officers, a diverse crowd of residents, and community leaders together this past weekend in the “Let Your Voice Be Heard” open forum.
“Announcing the officer who shot Michael Brown and releasing a video of his alleged robbery caused some serious unrest in young people in my city. I wanted to give youth a forum to be heard, share hope, and peaceful solutions,” Thi’sl said.
“Let Your Voice Be Heard” began with prayer and a hope-filled ballad as Brian Owens rallied the crowd to sing, “I Believe.“ The open forum began shortly thereafter with a panel including Azriel Horton, Marcus “FLAME” Gray, Pastor Kenny Petty, Michael “MikeREAL” Hollis, Leon Douglas, and more.
Passionate protestors stepped to the microphone to speak candidly about Mike Brown’s shooting expressing distrust in local police, economic disparities, and education gaps being core issues throughout the city. “There’s no reason for us to fear the police if we are the police! I encourage every young man looking for a job to apply for their local police department,” one man said.
After several community members passionately addressed police control, a young black policewoman stepped up to say, “I’m coming from a perspective that hasn’t been heard tonight… that of a police officer. We are on both sides of the issue. People ask where are our black leaders, but the problem isn’t in the black leadership. The question is where are the people willing to take direction for their own safety?” – Officer Brionne Spearman.
Another officer said, “I’m a police officer and I’m a man of God. I come from one of the roughest neighborhoods in St. Louis, but I’m making it. I know what these young people are dealing with. Don’t embrace the stereotypes of what people think about white people, black people, or police officers. I am here to help.”
Mission St. Louis, a job placement and neighborhood organization, provided resources to forum attendees. Voter registration was available during the forum as well.
In addition to hosting this forum, Thi’sl has been on the front lines in Ferguson passing out water, leading youth to safety, and proclaiming viable solutions over a loudspeaker.
“If people want an event to take part in, Let’s bring long term change to the streets of St. Louis. In order to move forward as a culture, we have to start talking about these issues and taking action.” Thi’sl said.