The court has issued its verdict, finding ex-St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of murder. As we noted last week, opinions on this verdict are divided. We expect that some of our friends and neighbors will exercise their right to assemble and be heard. Whether you agree with them or not, we ask everyone to respect the right of all people to demonstrate and call for change.
Freedom of speech and assembly are at the core of American beliefs. We have learned it is vital to listen to those demonstrating to hear the message they are sending. This is the only way to find common ground, a path forward to bridging the divides between us. This path is what can lead us to positive, lasting change for our country.
While people have a right to protest, they do not have a right to hurt someone else or their property. Violence will only further divide our community and set back what progress and healing we have made together over the last few years. We know we must do more.
We ask a great deal of our law enforcement officers and first responders every day, and know that what we ask them to do now is that much harder. They are well-trained professionals and we know they are up to the task of protecting the rights of demonstrators while also keeping people and property safe.
Our thoughts are with those families who have been affected by this tragedy. Our hopes are firmly planted in our region’s future. Let us learn from each other’s fear, pain and frustration; let us work together to be the healing path forward.