Security for St. Louis’ annual celebration of the life and legacy of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. has been heightened considerably this year, the city tripling the number of law enforcement officers present in expectation of heightened “tension” after a year of at times violent civil rights protests and rioting.
Every year the event beings with a series of remarks by politicians followed by a march and finally an interfaith service. While it is usually well-attended, this year organizers have anticipated far greater numbers due to the series of protests in the region that occurred in the second half of 2014.
Organizers also anticipated potential disruptions, which led them to significantly beef up security. The Washington Post reports:
They also prepared for the potential that some of the unrest could disrupt the commemoration. They have reached out to protest leaders, some of whom will participate in the events, as well as church leaders and the heads of sororities and fraternities, asking them to emphasize the peaceful nature of the event. They worked with the St. Louis police to increase security, said Gary Boyd, a member of the committee that organized the observance, which he cast not as a protest but a solemn moment to “keep the dream alive.”
Typically, about 25 police officers are on hand to help with crowd control, Boyd said. This time there will be about 75 to 100, he said. Still, he expects that even the most angry protesters will treat the day with reverence and that there will be no trouble.
Image, video via St Louis Post-Dispatch.