Parma, MO is currently trending on Facebook. And no, it’s not for some news on a Chicken Parma-san play. This small town on less than 800 residents are becoming internet famous for a police force that had 80% of their officers resign immediately as their first black woman was sworn in as mayor. Five officers cited “safety concerns” as the only listed reason for their bulk walk out, a move that many see as racially motivated. Although no one but the officers will be able to tell us the true motivation, oddly, even their paperwork has disappeared. There are some individuals who wish to claim that this has nothing to do with race, and was only due to politics. That might be, as the previous mayor has served as such for two generations, perhaps the officers feared for the changing of the guard. That raises many concerns for why they feared the change.
Sadly, given the timing and the lack of backed reasoning, more points to the prospect of a racially driven action. In a country tinkering on the edge of progress, there are many who will still wish to hold on to the past, even if it hurts others by doing so. Parma, MO is a small town, one that has a median household income of approximately $19,000, a lower than average school ranking, and a population rate in decline, and almost 50% of the population that has never completed high school. In fact, only 4% has ever received a college degree or higher.
Parma is important because it is not alone. In small towns such as these, different is often suspect, especially if it challenges the status quo. We are seeing many of these changes as the new generation begins to influence their voting authority. A mayor with a reign of 37 years lost to a new face. Tyrus Byrd begins her term amidst the most news this town might ever see, but it sounds although she is prepared to advance with business as usual. Although this incident might get more attention as details emerge, these openings mean that those who step forward, do so with the understanding of the way things are moving. Forward.
By: Courtney Kidd, LMSW
SJS Staff Writer
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