ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – An altercation broke out at St. Louis City Hall during a meeting Wednesday to discuss the possibility of creating a civilian review board so citizens could have a more direct line to police.
Witnesses told News 4 the fight began when a woman, who was getting ready to leave, was pushed aside by the Business Manager of the St. Louis Police Officers Association, Jeff Roorda. Roorda was addressing 18th Ward Alderman Terry Kennedy at the time of the alleged incident.
A News 4 camera was inside the City Hall room and captured the hectic scene. At the start of the video you can hear St. Louis Police Officer Curtis Burgdorf addressing the committee along with grumblings from the crowd. Seconds later, Roorda asks Alderman Kennedy to bring the crowd to order. When the camera shifts to capture Roorda, he begins walking towards the front of the room when he encounters Cachet Currie, the woman who claims she was pushed. When Roorda and Currie come near one another the scuffle ensues. From News 4’s camera angle it is hard to tell who initiates contact.
"I was literally just trying to leave the meeting and I got caught in whatever Roorda and Kennedy had going on in their exchange," said Currie. "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. Some man grabbed me by the hair, just started trying to throw punches at me. From there it just went wild.”
Roorda called the hearing a "sham" that lacked any type of order. He said the anti-police crowd members did not like it when he asked the committee chair to bring the crowd to order.
“As I tried to exit the aisle I was in, the woman was standing in the way,” Roorda said. “She began elbowing me and pushing, trying to keep me from getting out. As I tried to exit, she continued to do that. Two or three other anti-police radicals rushed over and things escalated from there.”
Roorda told News 4 he did not push Currie.
Roorda said he was at the meeting to support police and was exercising his First Amendment rights by wearing an “I am Darren Wilson” bracelet. Roorda says he wants police officers to get the same respect that was given to the other people who spoke at the meeting.
"Why go up to the front and show the bracelet off?" said protester Rasheen Aldridge. "Why go up to the front and sit in front of the protesters where you know they are at, kneel there, and have this bracelet sit there and smile as if its okay. You're being held to a higher standard as the business manager of the police officers' association, so you need to be responsible for what you do. What he did was completely irresponsible, childish, and wrong."
After several minutes of pushing and shoving, the meeting was adjourned early.
"You could tell people were on edge and they have very opposing views on a lot of things. if we are not willing to listen to each other then we are not going to get very far," said Maggie Crane, a spokesperson for St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.