St. Louis, MO – The new public safety director for the city of St. Louis tackled the polarizing subject of black-on-black crime at a ceremony honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday.
“This message is for black folk,” Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards, who is black, said from the podium.
“In order for Chief Hayden to have any success, in order for Judge Edwards to have any success, you’ve got to step forward,” Edwards said, as he urged the public to work with the police to make their community safer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
He said that black people have to look in the mirror and address the black-on-black homicides if they want to move forward and continue MLK’s dream.
Edwards said King talked of a revolution, but profound change cannot happen without buy-in from everyone.
The new public safety director made those remarks while standing beside new St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden, who is also black.
Unfortunately, he had his statistics wrong.
Edwards said 204 out of the 205 murder victims in St. Louis in 2017 were black people, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“One hundred percent of the people that were caught and accused of those crimes were African-Americans,” Edwards said. “We have to address that. We cannot go forward and continue King’s dream unless we look in the mirror and address that problem. That’s a problem that’s on us.”
But readers of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch were quick to point out that Edwards had his homicide numbers wrong.
According to the police data, of the 205 murders in St. Louis in 2017, 192 victims were black, 12 victims were white, and one was Hispanic.
Out of 138 murder suspects in St. Louis last year, 137 were black and one was white.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, who is white, appointed Edwards as head of public safety in October of 2017. Edwards was previously a circuit court judge.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Michael McMillan, CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, gave the new mayor a grand compliment when she finished speaking.
“The two best things you have done in this past year of your service as mayor are sitting right here,” McMillan said, and pointed to Edwards and Chief Hayden.
Edwards supervises more than 3,500 city employees, including police and firefighters.