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State Sen. Paul Wieland has issued a warning advising Jefferson County residents not to travel to or shop in the city of St. Louis.

In his statement, released July 4 on social media outlets, Wieland (R-Imperial) said that “in light of the numerous reports of senseless violence, the lack of prosecution and the unwillingness for the police and security personnel to protect the innocent,” Jefferson County residents should “take great caution before traveling” to the city.

The advisory takes note of an alleged attack against a group of Catholic people praying near the Louis IX statue in Forest Park, the assault of a woman at a Metro station and protesters blocking highways and trespassing on private property.

“As long as St. Louis City refuses to protect the public, and allows this lawlessness to flourish, I am advising my family, friends and the law-abiding people I represent to avoid traveling to or through St. Louis City,” he wrote in his advisory. Wieland could not be reached for comment on Monday.

His advisory also noted that leaders of both St. Louis and St. Louis County on July 3 began requiring people to wear face masks in public.

“They have apparently lost control of the coronavirus outbreak,” Wieland wrote. “Until an ‘all clear’ is sounded, it would be safer for everyone to shop Jefferson County first.”

In a July 2 public statement, Jefferson County Executive Dennis Gannon and Health Department Director Kelley Vollmar “strongly encouraged” the wearing of face masks in public, citing the recent dramatic increase in cases in the county.

In a Facebook post dated July 5, state Rep. Peter Merideth, a Democrat whose 80th District includes parts of south St. Louis, said he was “disappointed” with Wieland’s statement.

“Perhaps as you encourage your constituents to avoid St. Louis, you should also consider the economic impact of doing so, seeing as you seem to value the economy over lives in this pandemic,” Merideth wrote. “This city and county you deride remains the largest economic engine of the state – providing far more of our share in taxes paid and revenue produced. Attacking us attacks our very state.”

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