The mayor of St. Louis is facing backlash for reading aloud during a public briefing the full names and street addresses of protesters who are calling on the city to defund the police department.
Mayor Lyda Krewson was answering questions during a Facebook Live briefing Friday afternoon, which she has held regularly during the coronavirus pandemic, when someone asked about a meeting she had with demonstrators outside City Hall earlier in the day.
The mayor responded that the conversation “wasn’t really a two-way conversation… because there was a very loud response from the demonstrators,” NBC’s affiliate in St. Louis, Missouri KSDK reported.
But protesters had given her written outlines of their proposals for how the city could better allocate money that now goes to the police department, and Krewson stepped away from the camera to grab the papers from her desk as the briefing was still streaming live.
The mayor started reading the suggestions out loud, including giving out the first and last names of the writers, as well as the streets where they live. In some instances, she gave people’s exact addresses, KSDK reported. Many of the proposals suggested that the city should budget zero dollars for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
During the Facebook Live video, which has since been deleted, Krewson said multiple times that she is against defunding the police, according to KSDK.
Her reading aloud protesters’ names and addresses prompted a wave of criticism, some calling her actions “shocking” or comparing them to doxxing, which is the broadcasting online of private or identifying information about an individual or organization.
St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Ellyia Green slammed Krewson, tweeting that it is “not cool to doxx my constituents who support #DefundThePolice on your FB live today. It’s a move designed to silence dissent, and it’s dangerous.”
“No leader should resort to intimidation of the residents they were elected to represent. Period,” tweeted Cara Spencer, another St. Louis alderwoman.
The ACLU of Missouri also condemned Krewson’s actions.
“It is shocking and misguided for Mayor Lyda Krewson of St. Louis, to broadcast the addresses of those who dare to express a different viewpoint on an issue of public concern. It serves no apparent purpose beyond intimidation,” said Sara Baker, ACLU of Missouri’s policy director, in a statement. “The chilling of debate should bother everyone, no matter whether they agree or disagree with the mayor on this particular issue.”
As of Saturday, at least 15,000 people had signed a Change.org petition calling for Krewson’s resignation, contending that she “directly endangered the lives of protesters by releasing their names and addresses.”
On Friday night, Krewson apologized in a statement “for identifying individuals who presented letters to me at City Hall as I was answering a routine question during one of my updates earlier today.”
“While this is public information, I did not intend to cause distress or harm to anyone. The post has been removed,” the statement said.
For some, such as Green, the apology is not enough.
“It’s not about intent. It’s about impact. The apology takes no responsibility for actions and no commitment to do differently in the future. @LydaKrewson put our residents at risk and needs to resign,” Green tweeted in response to the mayor’s statement.