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Out-of-control shoplifting, Violent attacks, Is MetroLink a vehicle for crime?

From the Riverfront Times

St. Peters alderman Don Aytes remembers well the fears some of his constituents expressed back in 1998, the year MetroLink supporters tried to bring light rail into suburban St. Charles County. “I thought for sure it would pass, and then someone on the MetroLink campaign made the decision to advertise that the train would connect Mid Rivers Mall with East St. Louis,” Aytes recalls. “That pretty much killed it right there. Soon you had people saying MetroLink riders would come to St. Charles by train and leave by car — stolen car.”

Ten years later and a growing number of Saint Louis Galleria and Delmar Loop merchants worry that St. Charles voters may have been right: that maybe MetroLink actually enables criminals, especially teenage lawbreakers. Ask virtually any store manager at the Saint Louis Galleria about shoplifting, and you’ll invariably get two responses: One, it’s out of control; and two, it’s gotten exceedingly worse since August 2006, when MetroLink opened a stop just 500 yards from the high-end shopping center.

In the first six months of this year, Richmond Heights police made 345 arrests at the mall. That’s nearly double the number of arrests made in all of 2005, before MetroLink opened its Shrewsbury line. “I know it’s not politically correct, but how else do you explain it?” comments a frustrated Galleria store manager who, like many Galleria shopkeepers interviewed by Riverfront Times, says her employer prohibits her from officially speaking for the company.

One business owner willing to speak is Rubina Patton, proprietor of Diversity Gallery and the Culture Café situated directly across the street from The Pageant. An African American and a licensed clinical social worker, Patton says it pains her to know that many of the teenagers involved in the attacks in the Loop are black. “I don’t care what color you are, you need to behave,” she says. “I don’t want this blown out of proportion, but it needs to be addressed.”

Note: According to U.S. Justice Department figures over 34,460 White women are sexually assaulted or raped by Black men each year, and most authorities believe that the actual rape figures are at least twice the reported number. The number of White rapes against Black women. Statistically, is 0! Because they have fewer than 10 cases nationally.

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