Mark Reardon (@MarkReardonKMOX)By Mark Reardon

In the aftermath of the Jason Stockley verdict, emotions are running high for everyone in St. Louis, and depending on what race you are and what perspective you have, the reaction is obviously very different. I’ve made my views known throughout the week on my show. It’s very difficult for me to understand how, after reading the facts and testimony of the case, this is a situation worthy of turning a heroin dealer with a long record, who led police on an 87 mph chase, into a martyr.

But in circumstances like this, everyone is asked to do little soul searching, so I want to share a message I received from someone I consider a very good friend who is black. This is what he wrote:

 I hope u don’t consider yourself one of the innocent.  Accountability used to come with doing the right thing, gaining respect from others.  That doesn’t exist like it used to when people who don’t look like you go out of their way to remind u have nothing coming unless it benefits them.  The legal system fails them, government betrays them and they give up hope and the desire to be accountable.  You don’t help that cause either.  U go out of your way to pound minorities, people who think differently than you hence u inspire others to take it a step further.  You had a legitimate voice at one time.  Instead of picking your spots to piss on people who could use direction and support, u point out they are the left, senseless heathens who don’t deserve a seat at the table.  The David Clarke school of how black people should act is more suitable because it’s appealing to your base and it’s good for business.  Not always the way it is. 

Needless to say I was taken aback by that message and thought it was overly harsh. If most people had sent me a message like that I would have just considered the friendship over and moved on. But in this case, I’ve had some follow-up conversations with the person who sent me the message, and we’ve made it clear that despite all the differences, this is not a time to shut down and NOT have conversations about these important issues. Or to end a friendship.

I don’t consider myself someone who “pounds minorities” and people who look differently than me. But I do think the credibility of those who think the Stockley case is an example of racial injustice is harmed when holding Anthony Lamar Smith up as a victim.

Here was a follow-up message from my friend:

If I didn’t value our friendship, I wouldn’t reach out to you on many occasions.  There are two sides to this issue and the extremes of both have created great angst for so many.  I’m really struggling with this as people I care about are on the other side of this.  While you are not able to walk in my shoes, I only wish you were more objective as people don’t just wake up in the morning and think protest is a good idea unless there are serious issues at hand.  The violence and destruction had no place in our society.  It’s brought about because people won’t listen or acknowledge what is going on.  Better ways?  Yes.  This s**t that is going on is the most effective because it makes people uncomfortable, scared and mad on both sides now.

I don’t agree that protests that turn into vandalism and property damage is the most effective method to inspire real conversations about change. I honestly think that all of this is splitting people even further apart. It almost happened with my friend mentioned above, but it’s worth it to me to keep having dialogue and to look for positive solutions wherever possible.

It’s not going to easy for me, and it’s certainly not going to be easy for St. Louis.