A brawl broke out at a St. Louis City Hall meeting on the implementation of a civilian oversight board of the police department on Wednesday night, according to reports from the scene.
The meeting at City Hall allegedly took a turn for the worse after an exchange between St. Louis Alderman Terry Kennedy and Jeff Roorda of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, St. Louis Post-Dispatch's Nicholas Pistor reported. Roorda allegedly yelled from the audience, "How about some order here," after a police officer's statement was interrupted by other attendees, according to the St. Louis American. Alderman Kennedy replied, "You do not tell me my function," after which Roorda began moving to the front of the room, pushing a woman on his way, according to those at the scene. Social media posted by those at the meeting suggested that Roorda had been involved in the altercation.
Cachet Currie, the woman who was allegedly pushed, said, "I was literally just trying to leave the meeting and I got caught in whatever Roorda and Kennedy had going on in their exchange," KMOV reported. "Roorda just jumped out into the aisle, pushed me over, and tried to get to Kennedy. I'm like 'wait a minute, don't push me.' Then he started going off on me, pushing me."
People in the crowd started shouting, KSTL's Staci Kramer said. Police officers sought to hold Roorda back from engaging with other attendees, according to the St. Louis American.
Alderman Antonio French, the lead sponsor of the bill calling for civilian oversight of police, expressed dismay over the altercation. "We saw once again tonight how fractured our city remains. We have a lot of work to do. I believe a strong civilian review board can help," French tweeted. "The behavior of union official Jeff Roorda tonight was deplorable, and disrespectful to the fine men and women he is supposed to represent," he added.
Photos from the scene showed Roorda wearing a bracelet that said, "I Am Darren Wilson," the Ferguson police officer who shot the unarmed, black, 18-year-old Michael Brown.
The meeting was one of several to discuss policing in the St. Louis area in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The meeting on Wednesday night was considering a bill calling for the creation of a civilian oversight board of the police department. The measure would give an oversight board the authority to investigate allegations of police misconduct, and make recommendations on police policy based on assessments conducted by the group. The board's seven members would be nominated by the mayor and approved by the Board of Aldermen. Previous efforts to create the St. Louis Civilian Oversight Board had been unsuccessful, the Post-Dispatch reported. It was not yet clear if the bill had been put to a vote before the meeting was adjourned.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.