Parade Charade

The search for the real reason for moving the Annie Malone Parade

"I plan to fight this up until the day of the parade," vows 21st Ward Alderwoman Bennice Jones King, who called the move a "slap in the face" to the black community.

In an aldermanic committee meeting last month, Jones King and Third Ward Alderman Freeman Bosley Sr. blasted Aaron Phillips and Richard King on their board's decision to move the parade. The parade's traditional route cuts through both aldermen's wards. At the end of the heated session, Phillips fumed, "I'm not going to sit here and be your whipping boy." (To watch video of an exchange between Bennice Jones King and Aaron Phillips at the meeting, click here and scroll down.)

Further alienating the aldermen and other politicians was the fact that Annie Malone's board contacted the police department before announcing the move, leaving the politicos to read about it in the papers.

Recalls Jones King: "My phone was ringing off the hook with constituents complaining. It made me look negligent that I didn't know anything about it beforehand."

The alderwoman adds that the violence associated with the parade isn't a major concern. "There may be a fight or two, but that all happens after the parade, and it's certainly not enough to terminate the parade. I'm not buying that reason."

Community activist Jamilah Nasheed, a candidate for state representative in the 60th District, says, "The Annie Malone group says that the violence is not an issue, but let's not play around. It is an issue. The fact is, we need more police presence in north St. Louis, not only during the parade, but at all times."

Phillips, meanwhile, says the move downtown is not permanent and that the parade may return to north city.

That's not good enough for Nasheed, who argues that the Annie Malone board has already lost credibility in the African-American community.

"They're going to lose a huge audience," she predicts. "It's like little children: When they do something bad, you spank them and tell them to get back home. The same thing will happen here. They'll get spanked and come on home."

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