A year after Michael Brown's death, two rallies face-off
COLUMBIA - Two separate groups of demonstrators faced-off in front of Columbia's City Hall Wednesday following days of tension between the Columbia Police Officer's Association and city manager.
On Sunday, the CPOA made a Facebook post, which has since been removed, stating it stands by Wilson's actions and declared Aug. 9 "Darren Wilson Day."
One group, organized by talk-show host Gary Nolan, said it was pro-law enforcement and Darren Wilson. The other group, which included Missouri's NAACP President Mary Ratliff, expressed a dissatisfaction with the insensitivity of the CPOA and people who support the organization.
Both groups arrived at 5 p.m. Around 40 people showed up for each rally, totaling around 80 people in front of city hall.
"I thought it would nice here for chance, we came down here, for change rather, if we came down here and supported law enforcement," Nolan said.
But others, like protester Willy Maxwell, came to show their disapproval of recent actions of the CPOA director, Dale Roberts.
"I'm protesting what I consider to be a racist, insensitive and unprofessional statement by the president of the Columbia Police Officer Association," Maxwell said.
Missouri's NAACP President Mary Ratliff agreed.
"The police officer association ought to be sensitive enough that they know there is brokenness in this community and to do healing in this community, this would open a wound and this would cause this kind of reaction in Columbia that is only going to get worse," Ratliff said.
City Manager Mike Matthes called for the removal of Roberts from CPOA and said he wouldn't ask voters to fund hiring any more police officers until he no longer held his position.
"I think it was a very courageous thing that he did," Ratliff said.
But people in the crowd of pro-law enforcement, like William Goddard, stood by the CPOA's director.
"As an individual, he has the right to voice his opinion, and he should not be chastised, should not be threatened by a city official for doing what he feels like is the right thing to do," Goddard said. "I'm tired of people trying to be politically correct and ignoring the fact that the police are here to help serve and protect the citizenry. Not just the black citizenry. The citizenry. And I think what the city manager did was wrong so I'm here to say something."
Demonstrators dispersed around 6:30 p.m.