Missouri's First Lady-to-be Robbed at Gunpoint Last Night ... What it Might Mean in St. Louis

Missouri Republican Governor-elect Eric Greitens delivers a victory speech along side his wife Sheena and son Joshua Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in Chesterfield, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Curry)

Last evening, a bit after 6pm, Sheena Greitens, the wife of Missouri’s Governor-elect Eric Greitens, was mugged at gunpoint by 3 black teenagers. The robbery occurred at a restaurant in St. Louis’s “Central West End” area…close to the popular Fox Theater and St. Louis University. The offenders took Mrs. Greitens laptop and cellphone as she was getting into her car.

Later last night, St. Louis police caught the 3 by tracking the cellphone of another victim whose phone was stolen from his car.  After a brief vehicle pursuit, they were apprehended and the stolen items were found in their (stolen) car.

The incident illustrates a couple of things:  First, one of Eric Greitens’ main positions when running for Governor was support for law enforcement.  He referred to this in his statement last night:

I have spoken in the past about the importance of public safety. About the need to take care of the men and women of law enforcement who have our backs. About the danger too many Missourians feel walking in their neighborhoods at night, or taking their kids to school, or going to the grocery store.

If tonight’s incident has done anything, it has only served to strengthen my—and our family’s—resolve. We are, now more than ever, committed to the law enforcement officials who were by Sheena’s side within minutes.

In the St. Louis area, this is especially important, given the outrageously high violent crime rate in the city of St. Louis.  I am at the point personally where I will not go into the city at night, even for sports events, and for a St. Louis Blues fan, that’s a bad thing.  Greitens is taking over as Governor after the departing Democrat governor Jay Nixon, who recently was ordered by a judge to serve as a public defender in a criminal defense case after Nixon failed to sign a Republican-passed bill to provide funding for the public defender system…

Second, it demonstrates that St. Louis’s “Delmar Divide” is not a wall that prevents crime from passing to the south.  Delmar Blvd is a street that is a few blocks north of the restaurant where Mrs. Greitens was robbed.  It is known throughout St. Louis, and now world-wide, as a dividing line between a very wealthy (and mostly white) area to the south and a very poor and crime-riddled area populated mostly by African Americans to the north.  The area where the restaurant is located, the “Central West End”, is a growing and popular area of restaurants, microbreweries, trendy business incubator buildings, rehabs, St. Louis University, the Fox Theater, St. Louis Symphony, and a new IKEA and other retailers.  But it is literally walking distance to an area of poverty and crime, just north of Delmar.  When I was a baby, my family lived just north of Delmar, but we moved in the mid 1960s because of increasing crime and jobs that moved into St. Louis county.  The Delmar Divide has been well-documented as not just a geographic divide, but a racial barrier that has been a historic example of how segregation happened in the area.

I’m sure this incident will put further focus on the issues of law enforcement and police in St. Louis and the problems with crime and poverty in north St. Louis.  While this robbery on Sheena Greitens was only one of thousands that occur in the area every year, it will no doubt (hopefully?) put additional attention on the need for more law enforcement and on what is needed to solve the poverty and crime problems in that area of town.  It may have taken a crime against the wife of a governor-elect to ratchet up the attention level on these serious issues in our city.