Sutu Forté stands silently at the podium during public comments

Sutu Forté stands silently at the lectern during public comments Monday at the end of the City Council meeting at city hall. Forté didn’t speak but instead held a vow of silence for several minutes while pictures of It’s Our Wild Nature trees, both before and after being cut down, were projected to the chamber.

Sutu Forté held a vow of silence Monday at the lectern at the City Council meeting.

This demonstration of mourning came in response to the destruction of dozens of native mature trees along the center corridor of the Hinkson Creek property owned by the nonprofit It’s Our Wild Nature, of which Forté is president.

Forté previously staged a tree-sit in a large oak, named “Purity Brother,” for seven nights before being removed and arrested. “Purity Brother” was cut down the same day, and an employee of the construction company said it was waiting on the city’s orders to do so.

In addition to the native mature trees that were cut down to clear the city’s easement, dozens of smaller trees were also cut. The trees were cut to make way for a 10-foot-wide concrete path that will connect Stadium Boulevard to East Campus to the Bluffdale Drive neighborhood and to Broadway by three steel bridges.

The proposed trail project was voted down in the 1990s and the 2000s before being approved for a cost of over $3 million in 2018, according to previous Missourian reporting.

During the demonstration, silence fell over the chamber. An image of the Hinkson Valley corridor stripped of the native trees next to the previously forested area was displayed on the chamber TVs. After a few moments of silence, Forté left the auditorium.

Eugene Elkin, an activist with Habitat for Humanity, took the lectern after Forté.

“The silence represents those who did not listen when they should have,” he said. “Did they actually take out more than they should have?”

Mayor Brian Treece said that crews removed fewer trees than they could have. The meeting then moved on.

“Eminent domain is our next focus,” Forté told a Missourian reporter before entering the chambers.

It’s Our Wild Nature will announce details soon for a funeral for the trees killed in the Shepard to Rollins trail project.

  • Public Health and Safety reporter, fall 2019 Studying investigative journalism Reach me at xmncvc@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5720

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