ST. LOUIS — Mayor Lyda Krewson has temporarily relocated after a string of protests at her Central West End home.
The mayor on Wednesday confirmed that she and her husband, former television reporter Mike Owens, have been living at an apartment, also in the Central West End.
“We have not lived at home for 2 months,” Krewson said in a text message to a reporter. “We did it to deescalate the situation, to save police resources, and importantly because our neighbors were being disturbed and threatened.”
The mayor said “for me it comes with the territory.”
“I ran for this job — my neighbors did not,” Krewson said.
Krewson said she and her husband paid for their alternate lodging out of their own funds. She said no city money or campaign funds were being used.
Krewson is among mayors around the country who have contended with demonstrators showing up outside their homes during the wave of protests following the death in May of George Floyd, who is Black, while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Protesters appeared at Krewson’s home on Lake Avenue several times in late June and early July. She said the last time was in early August.
During one such protest on June 28, attorneys Mark and Patricia McCloskey gained national attention after they were photographed pointing guns at marchers outside their Portland Place home. The protesters entered the private street on their way to Krewson’s house.
The mayor said she stopped staying at her home in early July.
Some demonstrators had called on her to resign after she read on a now-deleted Facebook Live video the names and addresses of protesters who handed her proposed city budgets that included defunding police.
The mayor later apologized, saying she was identifying people as she answered a routine question and that she didn’t intend to cause distress or harm to anyone.
Krewson’s home also was targeted during protests in the fall of 2017 over the acquittal of a white former police officer, Jason Stockley, in the shooting death of a Black suspect, Anthony Lamar Smith.
Police said then that windows were broken and red paint was thrown at the mayor’s home.
Krewson isn’t the first St. Louis mayor to temporarily relocate because of issues related to their job.
In 1989, then-Mayor Vincent Schoemehl told reporters he and his family were moving to “a safe house” after he said he was threatened because of his ongoing push to dismantle the city license collector’s office.
Among mayors getting protests outside their homes have been then-Ferguson Mayor James Knowles and, as recently as June, Florissant Mayor Tim Lowery.
In Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler said Tuesday he will move from his $840,000 condominium because of repeated protests there. Wheeler said it would be “best for me and for everyone else’s safety and peace” that he finds a new home, The Oregonian reported.
In Chicago, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has assigned police officers to block protesters in front of her home, saying that she had received threats against herself, her wife and the home.
Police had effectively banned protesters from her block. She ordered police to arrest anyone who refused to leave. The Chicago Tribune reported that some of her neighbors were complaining about the approach, which included checking residents’ IDs before letting them close to the house.
Alex Vitale, a sociology professor at Brooklyn College and an expert in protest policing, said normal political processes for addressing political conflict are city council hearings, the legislative process, writing letters or even holding protests outside offices.
Vitale said what is happening now is “such a gulf between these movements for racial justice and the political leadership of the city that all sorts of normal political processes have broken down and people don’t feel they can get any redress from them, so they turned to accelerated street protests.”
Sidney Tarrow, a sociologist at Cornell University and author of the book, “Power in Movement,” said protesting outside the homes of public officials was “a very bad move for the movement.”
He called it “the flip side of the Trump administration’s personalism. It substitutes personal animosity for policy differences.”
He said, “If you want to bring about progressive change in this country, you don’t want to attack individuals. You want to attack their ideas and put forth better ones.”
Jeremy Kohler of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.