Kevin Killeen (@KMOXKilleen)By Kevin Killeen

EAST ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The protests and vandalism in St. Louis following the Jason Stockley verdict was among the topics discussed by visiting U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Dr. Ben Carson.

“We the American people are not perfect,” Carson said. “But we are not each other’s enemy. And we’ve got to come to understand that we are not each other’s enemies. Jesus said it best, ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand.'”

Carson addressed the Stockley verdict fallout during a question-and-answer session at East St. Louis city hall.

Without taking sides on the controversial police shooting, Carson said his “heart goes out” to both the young man’s family and to the officers.

Carson was here to announce HUD is returning East St. Louis public housing to local control after 32 years of federal control.

In 1985, HUD stripped the local Housing Authority of its power, after complaints of substandard housing — unheated homes, leaky windows, peeling paint, and rats and mice.

Some 6,000 people now occupy about 2,000 public housing units in the town of 27,000 residents.

Asked how the town will avoid backsliding into some of the same old problems under local control, Carson said he’s confident that won’t happen.

“The mayor has appointed a commission, five individuals who have undergone extensive training in terms of what to look for,” Carson said. “And there will be an oversight committee looking and making sure we’re not falling back into the same problem.”

The HUD oversight committee will monitor progress for two years.

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