Pastor Chris Rice from the New Life Evangelistic Center speaks at St. Louis City Hall the day after the Jones Administration evicted the homeless which took place on the front lawn at City Hall on October 3, 2023.
My name is Pastor Chris Aaron Rice. I’m with New Life Evangelistic Center and New Life has been on the streets ministering to people here in this location. Every day for the last couple of months we’ve done our best to support them and help them get their voice out there. And right here in this location there’s been a variety of escalation and agitation to the police. On Monday night in particular we had a showdown, so to speak, of several activists.
Larry Rice, the CEO of New Life, was there until 2 a.m. until the police finally backed down and moved away. But they said that there was a lot of places for all of these people to go to find shelter and the reality is that’s just not true.
And even the next day, yesterday, when they broke this encampment down, there weren’t places for everyone to go. There were quite a few people who didn’t have shelter, didn’t get into tiny homes, didn’t get into hotels. Instead they were moved on to another location. So New Life’s goal in speaking truth to the power is just to say to Mayor Tishara Jones, you promise, you built your whole campaign on a foundation of, “I’m going to be good for the homeless, I’m going to be good for crime.” And the reality is we don’t see that, you haven’t produced that fruit. And it’s been a lot of empty promises.
And so you can redeem yourself by pushing through legislation to get a Bill of Rights for the homeless. You can redeem yourself by working with other agencies like New Life Evangelistic Center to get shelter beds open and really make a difference in the lives of people. Or you can continue to make false promises, blame shift, and keep saying that you’re doing a lot when really all you’re doing is saying, “Not in my backyard.” Quite literally, not in front of City Hall.
You can do this anywhere else, but you can’t do it here. And you’re going to keep moving people on more and more and more. And I don’t know how one can sleep with the duplicity. That doesn’t make sense to me. However, we here at New Life are going to continue to expose the reality of people who are experiencing homelessness in the city of St. Louis. And you have the obligation as a city official to fulfill your promises to your constituents.