When a small Missouri town elected its first black mayor last week, three city officials and five of the town’s six police officers promptly quit their jobs, KFVS (Cape Girardeau) is reporting.
Mayor Tyrus Byrd was sworn in on April 14. Almost immediately, the city’s attorney, clerk, and wastewater treatment plant supervisor, as well as five police officers (80 percent of the town’s police force), resigned, citing “safety concerns.” It’s unclear, as of this post, precisely what those “safety concerns” might be.
In fact, according to WSMV (Nashville), the precise content of those resignation letters may never be known – when the new mayor reported for work, she found that the resignation letters were gone and the town’s computers were wiped clean.
Parma resident Martha Miller reacted to the departure of most of her town’s police force with a shrug.
“I think it was pretty dirty the way they all quit without giving her a chance, but I don’t think they hurt the town with quitting because who needs six police for 740 people?”
Another Parma resident, who declined to be identified, isn’t concerned about the new lack of cops in the Missouri town, considering that the police force didn’t do much good when it was fully staffed.
“They say we have six cops on the payroll. How can we have six cops and we go days without cops patrolling and we have these recent break-ins?”
Parma, Missouri is located deep in southeastern Missouri, in a section of the Show-Me State known as the Bootheel. Like a lot of towns in that part of Missouri, times have been hard in Parma. 38 percent of the town’s residents live in poverty, according to City Data. The average income is $18,000 per year – far below Missouri’s statewide average of $45,000.
Whether or not the resignations following the election of the town’s first black mayor are connected to her race is not clear. The town’s previous mayor, Randall Ramsey, had been mayor for 37 years, and at least one Parma resident, Wendy Lawrence Stafford, blames the resignations on the breakup of the “Good Ol’ Boy” network that had run the town for four decades.
“They resigned the minute they found out Randall didn’t get mayor again. They all abandoned the town immediately which shows how much they really cared about the town and its citizens and the real reason they quit is due to something other than ‘safety issues’ Their free ride was just cut off. We have been trying for YEARS to get someone to listen to the citizens about the dealings going on and no one until now wanted to listen.”
The Missouri town’s first black mayor says her first order of business will be to “clean up” the city.