While Baton Rouge teeters, mayor appears absent
BATON ROUGE - The governor stressed teamwork in a news conference Friday, and said state leaders are working with Baton Rouge city officials despite a noticeable absence of Mayor Kip Holden.
Holden, who first commented in a quick phone conversation with WBRZ the night of Alton Sterling's death - almost 18-hours after the shooting, has had one news conference and has been visibly missing from activities since.
Local North Baton Rouge activists criticized African American city officials at a news conference Friday, too, outside the Triple S convenience store where Sterling was shot and killed by Baton Rouge Police early Tuesday morning. The group that spoke Friday said black leaders should have done more immediately after Sterling's death.
When questioned by the WBRZ Investigative Unit Friday about Holden's absence, the Governor politically shrugged it off.
"I'm the Governor. I don't want to be mayor; in fact, I've got my hands full being governor right now," he said as the crowd assembled behind him chuckled. "I think your question is better addressed to the mayor."
Though, he said, the mayor's office is involved in conversations about the situation and the state's response to issues.
"I will tell you, it requires teamwork. There is tremendous communication. Whether it's the State Police, the sheriff - who is here with us from East Baton Rouge - it is all about teamwork if we want to be effective," he said, ending his comments and the Friday news conference from the State Capitol by adding, again, the mayor should answer the question.
Saturday, The Advocate posted a similar story reporting the mayor was in Washington, D.C., Thursday where he held a meeting with Baton Rouge-based U.S. Representative Garret Graves (R) about securing federal money for a proposed, $170 million trolley project that would link LSU with downtown. The project itself has been criticized by North Baton Rouge officials, too, who argue the trolley only benefits the white, upper-class southern end of the city-parish.
WBRZ requested a comment from the mayor's office Saturday. One has yet to be received, but the request was put in outside or regular city business hours. Though, the mayor told the Baton Rouge newspaper about the matter: "“I’m not going to submit me and my family to abuse and ridicule."
The mayor suggested the questions about his schedule in the days following Sterling's shooting death were political and made mention that he is not trying to play politics with the situation. However, in his only news conference Wednesday, Holden criticized his opponent in an upcoming congressional election for using the shooting for political jockeying. Leading into the comments about incumbent U.S. Representative Cedric Richmond (D), Holden said politics should not play a part in the response to how Sterling's death is being handled. Richmond represents Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District which winds around New Orleans to parts of North Baton Rouge.
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