Pivotal figure in Ferguson protests hired to revitalize downtown St. Louis | Saint-Louis news headlines


ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Seven years after the Ferguson protests, the man seen as a central figure in stabilizing the situation is now being asked for a new assignment in St. Louis City.

“We’re going to take back our downtown area. We’re going to come back here and enjoy this place. We’re going to work here,” said Ron Johnson.

Johnson, a former state soldier known to have calmed the Ferguson protests, is now working with the Community Improvement District (CID) to ensure safety, security and stability in downtown St. Louis. For years, the CID has been involved in the community and economic development of the city center. CID board members tell News 4 it is time for a change. That’s why Johnson was brought in.

“We’re talking about different traffic solutions here. Our streets are blocked, we need to open our streets so people can enjoy it and people can go to their condos, drive and have guests,” Johnson explained.

Johnson says he has short and long term solutions. Some that will take time, and collaboration between residents, business owners, city leaders and CID. Residents say CID has been trying to change downtown for years and it hasn’t worked. They tell News 4 the crime just got worse.

“We really have two city centers. The city center during the day which is run and it’s safe and we love being here, but there is also the city center at night, especially late at night,” he said. said Les Stermans.

Sterman moved downtown almost two decades ago to participate in its reconstruction and revitalization. He says the crime has gradually worsened and over the past few years he has felt more and more unsafe.

“More clubs, more disruptive activity. We’ve heard gunshots in the last two years, we’ve never heard them before. Bushes in the street, that sort of thing,” Sterman said.

Sterman isn’t the only resident who says things are getting out of hand.

“Things have changed, not for the better,” said David Sosne.

Sosne has lived in the city center for seven years. He says he still feels safe, but has noticed that crime is on the rise in the area. Business owners polled by News 4 on Tuesday also said they were feeling the effects of an increase in crime. Last month, suspects broke into a tech store on Washington Avenue, stealing thousands of dollars in product and causing even more damage. Johnson thinks he can change that, but residents are in doubt.

At around 4 a.m. on Saturday, the alarms of a business in downtown Saint-Louis went off and triggered a filmed burglary.

“They [CID] have been preaching the “clean and safe” mantra for years, and they just haven’t done it, ”Sterman said.

Other residents say they are ready to give Johnson a chance.

“I think it’s a positive development. I don’t know what his ideas are, but I think someone like that is absolutely essential,” Sosne said.

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