Were No Black Leaders Invited To Gateway Arch Ribbon-Cutting? "Do-Over" Photo Planned

Democratic State Representative Bruce Franks, Jr. has said that not only will he represent the people who elected him, he will not buy into the "business-as-usual" politics in the State of Missouri or the City of St. Louis, and the ribbon-cutting held Tuesday at the Gateway Arch is no exception. (Courtesy: Arch Foundation

Democratic State Representative Bruce Franks, Jr. has said that not only will he represent the people who elected him, he will not buy into the "business-as-usual" politics in the State of Missouri or the City of St. Louis, and the ribbon-cutting held Tuesday at the Gateway Arch is no exception.

Franks sounded of on social media over the official ribbon-cutting photo released by the Arch Foundation following a dedication from the renovated Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis that shows only white leaders from the area.

He took to Facebook Live this morning to throw shade on the image, which he and several other say does not reflect the city he represents.

Franks is not just stopping short with words, he has scheduled a new ribbon cutting for noon Friday with black leaders.

Comments on his Facebook were mostly supportive, but there are some harsh words from some against Mr. Franks, but he re-iterated his push for changing the way things are done in St. Louis and Missouri politics.

Just over 200 people had RSVP'd for Franks' event on Facebook as of Thursday afternoon.

The dedication photo shows more than a dozen people, including Republican Gov. Mike Parson and U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, and Roy Blunt, a Republican, U.S. Representative Ann Wagner from Ballwin. U.S. Congressman Lacy Clay, a black Congressman who represents the district in which the city and the arch is located is not in the photo.

While a spokesperson with the Gateway Arch apologized for the photo, they have not said whether any black leaders were invited to the event. "As organizers of the event, we acknowledge that our ribbon cutting did not reflect the diversity of our community," a statement from the foundation reads.

One commenter on Franks' Facebook page noted that the photo did not include former Cardinal legend Ozzie Smith, who she says basically hosted the event.

Franks has been outspoken since he was elected to represent the 78th District two years ago, beating a St. Louis establishment Democrat. Since then the more Progressive Democrat he has not only faced expected political disagreement from Republicans, but he remains a lightning rod of harsh criticism from establishment Black Democrats from St. Louis.

Franks even called out the establishment Thursday in another Facebook post in which he stated that he would not be phased by their words and would continue to treat them with respect at the same time.

The park at the Gateway Arch was dedicated on Tuesday, topping off a five-year, $380 million renovation that Missouri political leaders see as a template for the future of the national park system. It was the first major renovation since the Arch opened in 1965, and about two-thirds of the funding came from private donations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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