Let me make one thing clear from the start…I do not know whether former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley is innocent or guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Sure, I’ve seen the dashboard and witness video of the initial confrontation with Smith, the high-speed chase that ensued, and the four shots fired into Smith’s car by Stockley that killed him. But none of that proves conclusively whether Stockley is guilty or innocent. Was it a “good shoot” or a “bad shoot?” That determination will come from Judge Timothy Wilson, and the decision could come at any time.
Here’s what I do know…the threats from many members of the clergy in St. Louis threatening Wilson by saying, “The blood will be on your hands” if the guilty verdict is not issued, is reprehensible. You know who should be the first person to come out publicly and say that? Not a talk show host; it should be the mayor of the city of St. Louis Lyda Krewson. But instead, the mayor last week put out a weak-in-the-knees, embarrassing YouTube video that made no mention of the threats of impending civil unrest and violence. You can watch that video here.
It’s baffling to me how someone in a leadership position can put out such an inept response to an expectation that if protesters don’t get their way, they might very well burn the city down. Then members of the clergy make it clear that they’ll support whatever the reaction of the protesters? Are we living in an alternative universe?
Here’s a better statement on the situation, and it came from Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens after sitting down with the so-called leaders of the black churches in St. Louis:
“Breaking a window is not free speech. Throwing bricks at police is not free speech. For folks who want to light a candle and walk in a vigil, they should know that we are here to protect them,” he said. “For those who want to light a Molotov cocktail and burn down a home, they should know we are going to arrest them.”
One member of the black clergy said he was encouraged by the governor’s visit, but told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “We’re not here to try to control our young activists. That’s not our responsibility. That’s not our job. If a militarized police presence shows up, that will incite a certain response.”
Really? I think what’s inciting a certain response is people who are supposed to be leading their flocks and encouraging people in the name of God, of all things, to respond any way they see fit if they don’t get the verdict they’re demanding.
Meantime, Jeff Bezos is looking for a second headquarters for Amazon – which could mean up to 50,000 jobs for the region – and some of these same leaders think we have a shot? If you picked up our local paper or listened to the threats from black leaders and activists, would you want your company to set up shop in St. Louis?
I’ll save you time. That was a rhetorical question.