Threat Of Protests Moves St. Louis County Inaugurations

CLAYTON • Security concerns have prompted a change of venue for the New Year’s Day ceremonies at which St. Louis County Executive-elect Steve Stenger and County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch are scheduled to be sworn into office.

Normally held in the County Council chambers on the second floor of the Lawrence K. Roos County Administration Building, the inaugural events will instead take place on the 6th floor of the St. Louis County Courthouse by invitation only.

Stenger spokesman Cordell Whitlock said unspecified threats prompted the decision to move the proceedings to the courthouse.

“After consulting with law enforcement we decided it was prudent to change the venue,” Whitlock said.

A St. Louis County Police spokesman said the request to switch sites came at the request of McCulloch and Stenger’s offices.

An announcement was delivered via email to invitees early Wednesday afternoon.

“Please be aware that the venue has changed,” it reads. “Also, additional security measures have been put in place and the ceremony and reception are now private, invitation-only events.”

McCulloch drew widespread criticism in late summer from activists for his refusal to recuse himself from the investigation into the fatal shooting of Michael Brown by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson.

The denunciations escalated in November after a county grand jury declined to bring criminal charges against Wilson.

Stenger has been castigated for not distancing himself from McCulloch, a staunch political ally who played a major role in Stenger’s Democratic primary victory over Charlie Dooley, the first African-American to serve as St. Louis County executive.

General assignment reporter Steve Giegerich covers St. Louis County. On Twitter @stevegiegerich