Saturday, November 19, 2011

Did St. Louis City Cave to Downtown Partnership Requests? New Evidence Suggests Yes

Occupy St. Louis has previously alleged that St. Louis City's decision to evict them from Kiener Plaza was prompted by a meeting with the Downtown Partnership, a St. Louis business partnership whose board includes representatives from Bank of America, Wells Fargo, US Bank, Peabody Coal, and many others. Reporter David Hunn of the Post-Dispatch followed up on this suggestion by asking Mayor Slay's Chief of Staff Jeff Rainford about the allegations, but the city apparently would not answer his question:
Jeff Rainford, Slay's chief of staff, refused to say if the city met with the Downtown Partnership last week, but insisted that the complaints are coming from many, not only the Partnership.

"There are lots of people complaining. I'm not going to point at one versus the other," he said. "I'm not going to get into it. What I would prefer not to happen is to have this personalized."

The city, he said, would not meet with occupiers today, nor would it discuss the issue in the press.
In documents obtained from a Missouri Sunshine Law request, I have found conclusive evidence that officials from the Mayor's office did meet with the Downtown Partnership to discuss OccupySTL. In fact, an email sent from Maggie Campbell, the President and CEO of the Downtown Partnership, suggests that the St. Louis group had been communicating with "counterpart organizations" around the country with the express goal of "unoccupying public parks." Campbell is forwarding an email from Jane Jenkins of Downtown Oklahoma City, Inc. about a man found dead in a tent at Occupy Oklahoma City. Here's the exact quote from Campbell's Oct. 31st email to Jeff Rainford (Chief of Staff for the Mayor) and Sam Dotson (Director of Operations for the City of St. Louis):
Fyi - newsflash from Oklahoma City - we are talking weekly with counterpart organizations in dozens of American cities, learning that more of them are moving forward with local plans to unoccupy local parks and return them to a condition that everyone can use them, while still allowing for the right to assemble and protest without taking possession of public space. We look forward to our meeting tomorrow to discuss this issue further, and we appreciate your support and thoughtful guidance.
I've uploaded the document to DocStoc, blocking out emails and phone numbers for the people involved. I can make the original, unaltered version available for any press who are interested in following up. Here's the document:


If it is true that the meeting with the Downtown Partnership is what promted the City to evict Occupy St. Louis from Kiener Plaza, this seems like an important example of exactly what the movement is complaining about: city policy being determined by business elites. Why should the city of St. Louis bow to pressure from groups like Bank of America who have a vested interest in shutting down protests that remind the public of their unethical and likely illegal behavior?

I think this also suggests that people in other large cities should also start investigating the communication between their city governments and the local downtown association. It sounds like St. Louis was just one of any number of city's where local business groups pressured the city's to crack down on protesters.


  1. The movement got to big, and the powers in charge decided it was time to put the brakes on it. They just had to use the mayor to do it because they cant directly control the police yet.

    Im pretty sure these same business interests were (and are) behind the coordinated media campaign that started soon after ows started.. everything from small local bloggers to big national outlets have been hammering any negative aspect, (real or manufactured) in order to stop the movement.

    It was only a matter of time until groups like the downtown partnership started to take a direct hand in squashing the movement, aided by willing accomplices in the Media and the mayors office.

    Thanks to Adam for taking the time to actually expose whats really going on downtown!

  2. You know you posted the OKC email like it was still happening or had happened, even though that e-mail was a score old? Not cool. Read your sources before you post. This is Bobby Reed from OKCupied, we are still standing strong and have just received several more days to continue our cause before our permanent hearing.

    We shall not be silenced by man or his legislation!

  3. Bobby, I didn't say anything in the post about Occupy OKC being closed down, because that wasn't what the post was about. Also, I clearly indicated the date of the original email, so how is using an old email "not cool?" The point is that, according to the emails, downtown business groups were pressuring local municipalities to "unoccupy" the parks.