St. Louis protesters are speaking out against racial issues that have been a problem in the area for a very long time
St. Louis’s ongoing racism causes problems for many of the residents
St. Louis’s Metropolitan Police Department is brutal and racist
There is a better way to manage this city’s legacy of violence
Since the judge’s arraignment of Jason Stockley on Friday, Sept 19th, St. Louis continues to protest the questionable verdict made by a judge during a bench trial. Angry citizens have been protesting what they feel has been a biased, wrongful verdict, as well as the continual racism of St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, judicial system, and government. We previously discussed the details surrounding the crime, but despite strong evidence against him, the judge made a verdict, following up with an opinion stating: “Finally, the Court observes, based on its nearly thirty years on the bench, that an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly.”
Residents are fed up!
Thousands of peaceful protesters have been taking to the streets throughout the city, staging die-ins in front of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, demonstrating the number of people that their officers have killed. They protested in Central West End, a high scale St. Louis neighborhood that the mayor lives in. They have protested in malls in affluent, predominantly white cities in west St. Louis County to bring attention to the matter. Protesters have also spent a lot of time on Demar Blvd, which is referred to as the Delmar Divide – the street that has become the very obvious division of the more affluent St. Louis areas and universities to the south, and the gentrified, poor areas to the north. Local schools and universities have had their own protests. I will only make a brief statement about vandalism, stated eloquently elsewhere:
Let me be clear:
I don’t give a damn about your broken windows. Because, clearly, you don’t give a damn about our babies’ bullet-riddled bodies.
I will replace your window.
You replace your killer cops … and we still won’t be even.
Protesters continue to go out and make their voices heard daily, despite repeated police brutality toward them. Many completely compliant protesters have been treated with a lot of unnecessary aggression by a brutish police force, which underscores the need for real change within the police department. Here is just one example, a future post will have much more information regarding the abuse of power displayed by this police department.
So why does St. Louis have these huge, ongoing protests?
St. Louis is an incredibly segregated city, and county surrounding it, created by racism and years of discriminatory housing practices. Institutionalized racism is rampant throughout not only the area itself, but also through the police who it produces. Most of its leaders and police force are white. More insight on the racism will be posted later. This racism causes a callous view of the value of the lives of black people, thus showing little regard for them. St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is the deadliest police department in the US, and their victims are three times more likely to be black than white. Black people are 70% more likely to be pulled over. Yet no steps are taken to correct these very serious issues. Residents feel as though justice is never served, because their best interests are never properly represented. St. Louis – via Ferguson, located in north St. Louis county – is the birthplace of Black Lives Matter, and for good reason. Protests in 2014 against a white officer killing a black teen with no repercussion lasted for many months. These activists work tirelessly to make their voices heard day after day. This happens on top of their busy daily lives, which could well include working multiple low paying jobs to make ends meet, because of St. Louis’s segregated socioeconomic structure. Anyone who calls protesters lazy obviously have no idea what it takes to keep going day after day. But our protesters continue for months, making themselves visible to the city, whether the city wants to see them or not. They are tired of not being heard, because the ongoing close-mindedness of much of the surrounding St. Louis area will immediately discredit their message.
How can St. Louis fix these repeated problems?
- Proper representation by race When you have a city that is nearly equally split between black and white, it can’t be ran by a predominantly white government, and served by a predominantly white police force. Not only does that allow the racial bias to continue to breed, but it also makes citizens feel like they aren’t being represented by someone with their best interests in mind. With racial diversity, citizens can feel more equally represented by people who are more relatable.
- Proper convictions for police When killer cops are put on trial, they should absolutely be tried in a court with a jury, instead of bench trials. Cops who are charged with assault should not be subject to an internal investigation, they too should stand trial, just like the rest of the citizens.
- Proper education for police It’s pretty disturbing to think about police needing training to not be racist, but it’s true. When people grow up in a racial vacuum like St. Louis, racial superiority is what these officers are raised with from birth. Working with fellow racist officers can sour a bright young open-minded cadet’s thoughts about the citizens they are supposed to be protecting quickly.
- Proper communication with officials Just today, St. Louis City’s mayor, Lyda Krewson, canceled a town hall meeting in one of St. Louis’s poorest areas, bowing out with the message of “I hear you” but making residents feeling left unheard. Keeping communication channels open with two-sided dialog is important.
- Proper admission of the racial problems Racism has always been a big hush-hush topic among many white people. By openly admitting that St. Louis has a racial problem, that opens the door to creating solutions that can help eradicate the problem. This also helps black people feel better acknowledged.
- Properly addressing poverty St. Louis’s geographical racial divide correlating with impoverished areas is not coincidental. By having proper social services available, as well as good local business incentives, it can help create a better quality of living for the poorest people so that they can have better opportunities.
- Proper school funding and A+ programs Schools are funded by local taxes, so schools in the poorest areas are underfunded and understaffed, and students are less likely in these areas to graduate. Lack of education reduces income opportunities for the people who desperately need it the most. Where a child’s parent raises them should not dictate the quality of education available to them. Deseg programs are limited and puts students into schools that are strife with St. Louis racism.
- Proper public treatments for addiction Addiction is very much a social and economic problem. Not only does it destroy families, it also increases crime. Jail should not be a place for detox, and arresting dealers will only cause addicts to look elsewhere, while making room for others to take their place. The war on drugs is never going to remove them from the streets, so making help readily available coupled with good public education is a more proactive solution.
- Proper public transportation Metrolink is extremely limited, and taking buses takes forever. By creating a better transit system, more employment opportunities are available. Chesterfield retail and food service jobs tend to pay better hourly wages, but the people that can afford to live there aren’t going to be working those types of jobs. A bus from South City to Chesterfield takes an hour and a half each way, and the last bus out of Chesterfield runs at 10pm.
- City needs to be part of county Period. St. Louis City does not have a county, but it surrounded by a fairly affluent St. Louis County. County people get all of the benefits of the city, such as the attractions, hospitals, colleges, and other large city benefits, with having only a bit of the financial burden. But that’s where white flight has sent people off to, as they move farther away from the scary black people that relocate. Looking at you again, west county. Stop being narrow racists and embrace “your city.”