ST. LOUIS – St. Louis’s LGBTQ community showed its support for a south city bar after a city police car slammed into it early Monday morning and one of the bar’s owners was arrested. Current and former city leaders, along with LGBTQ community advocates, were on hand for the event.
People on hand Tuesday said the bar’s reopening so quickly shows the community’s resilience. But they said the entire ordeal also shows their fight for police transparency and fairness toward the LGBTQ community is far from over.
Around 7:30 p.m., Bar:PM owners James Pence and Chad Morris thanked a packed crowd for their support as Morris fought to get released from jail and the business acted quickly to seal the building and clean up the mess left behind from the crash.
“It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, mentally and physically,” Morris said.
“Something does have to change,” Pence said. “They do have to be more accountable.”
People at the reopening said anger over the police’s handling of the situation still lingers. Former St. Louis alderman and LGBTQ advocate Bill Stephens said the situation reminded him of injustices his community faced decades ago.
“My immediate thought is: are we returning to a significantly darker time in American history for my community?” he said.
Stephens said he hopes this incident forces the department to make the necessary changes.
“I think it’s an opportunity for us to actually build bridges and inroads.”
Alderwoman Anne Schweitzer (Ward 1) was also on hand Tuesday night to meet with her constituents and show support for the community. She called the incident terrifying.
“It’s very upsetting. You have a police vehicle driving into your business and your home. I can’t even imagine going through that,” Schweitzer said.
But Schweitzer stopped short of publicly criticizing the police department or calling for an outside agency to investigate the crash. She also would not commit to calling for the department to release body camera video of the altercation.Close
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“I pretty much have Chief (Robert) Tracy on speed dial right now. I’m trying to get to the bottom of what’s going on to make sure this is handled as transparently and expeditiously as possible so we can get to the bottom of what happened here,” she added.
As that investigation plays out, people here say they just want answers and accountability for a crash that could have been much worse.
“There are a lot of questions that are still unanswered,” LGBTQ advocate Robert Fischer said. “And I think the big thing is showcasing accountability.”
The couple has hired an attorney, who called the charges against Morris “bogus.”