We do not know when the judge will rule in the Stockley criminal trial, how he will rule, or what the reaction will be to the verdict. The verdict, whatever it may be, will trigger a reaction from people who agree with it, and a stronger reaction from those who disagree. Mayor Krewson released a video this week, speaking to people on both sides of the divide. If you have a few minutes, I think it is worth watching.
We believe it is important to recognize the valid frustrations felt by many in the community who lack trust in the justice system, while calling on protesters to refrain from violence or damage to the community. We also want to support the Mayor and the City of St. Louis as they do their jobs keeping the peace. That is why we believe it is important to communicate a short message to our members and the community before the judge reads his verdict.
Our region has been through a great deal in the last three years. We have rightly challenged each other to live up to our values of equal opportunity and justice for all. The vast majority of good-hearted St. Louisans know that our community still has much work to do to eliminate racial disparities and restore community trust in our system of justice.
The decision in the Stockley case will test our community again. Opinions on the verdict – whatever it is – will be divided. That does not mean the people who disagree with you are wrong. It means they have a different perspective based on their own experiences. The verdict may once more reveal valid frustrations and remind us that we still have a way to go to find authentic St. Louis solutions to restoring trust and bridging the gaps between us. But we must also remind each other about the individuals and organizations that are actively working to create positive change in our region. And, those of us in the private sector should redouble our commitment to doing what we can to make St. Louis a fair place for everyone.
After the verdict, some of our friends and neighbors will exercise their right to assemble and be heard. You may agree with them, or you may not. We echo Mayor Krewson’s request that you take a moment to listen to someone who views the verdict differently than you do. Either way, we ask everyone to respect the right for all Americans— even those we disagree with— to assemble and be heard.
While people have a right to protest, they do not have a right to hurt someone else or their property. So, we call on those demonstrating to refrain from violence that further divides and wounds our community.
We respect the challenges faced by law enforcement officers who go in harm’s way to protect us. We will once again put them in the very difficult position of protecting the rights of demonstrators while also keeping people and property safe. Their professionalism and training will serve them well.
We believe St. Louis, like America, has a long way to go before the American dream is within reach for everyone. The reaction to the verdict won't just be about the legal case itself. It will be a reflection of how many people feel about their own everyday lives. But, we also believe in the good hearts and intentions of the vast majority of St. Louisans of all beliefs. Together, we will overcome these obstacles and create a better, fairer and more just place for our children and grandchildren.