Black candidate calls for empathy in anti-white race killing
A community activist, Michael Moore, is running as the sole black candidate in the four-way contest and has portrayed the Feb. 7 rampage as a symptom of smoldering black resentment in Kirkwood.
Some spectators squirmed as Moore made repeated references to the night a black Kirkwood resident, Charles "Cookie" Thornton, opened fire inside City Hall and killed five white people, including three city officials, before being gunned down by police. Mayor Mike Swoboda was critically wounded.
Residents are still trying to untangle the roots of Thornton's rage, but Thornton, the owner of a paving and demolition business, used to attend City Council meetings to rail against white politicians' "plantation mentality" and complain that city officials were persecuting him with tickets for parking work vehicles near his home.
At church services and candlelight vigils immediately after the rampage, many resolved to see Kirkwood heal its racial and political divisions. But Moore's candidacy is a walking reminder that that isn't likely to be easy.
At a recent standing-room-only candidate forum, the 37-year-old truck mechanic let voters know he wants to overhaul a city government that he says ignores poor, black residents of a neighborhood known as Meacham Park.
"I think if the truth comes out about Meacham Park ... I think you'll understand the things that are going on. Even if I don't condone it," Moore told the crowd. And in a later interview, he warned: "Until the truth comes out, mark my words: Something else is going to happen."