Ice Breaker Question from an August 2017 AFSC St. Louis school workshop: “If you could change one thing about the world to make it a better place, what would it be?"
Seventeen-year-old student: “I would stop crooked cops who think they can do whatever they want.”
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Anthony Lamar Smith. As much as the St. Louis community has been anxiously awaiting a verdict in this case over the last few weeks, they have been waiting for an answer to their cries for justice since 2011.
Yet, and still they wait.
With a not-guilty verdict for former officer Stockley, we are reminded of how we all are waiting for justice, for a wrongdoer who took a life to be held accountable. Yet again the system that we as a society are supposed to put our faith in to provide this accountability has failed us.
It failed to prevent Stockley from carrying his personal AK-47 on duty. It failed to prevent a dangerous high-speed chase that put countless lives unnecessarily at risk. Ultimately, it failed to hold accountable an individual who was intent on taking the life of another.
So still we wait.
However, we don’t wait sitting idly by in some hopeful expectation that things will somehow get better. No, we continue the work. We take the desire of that 17-year-old high school senior and help her realize the change she wants to see in the world. We do what we can to amplify her voice and the voices of other young people like her whose lives are daily impacted by the systems that failed to hold Stockley accountable.
While we understand these systems were not established for people of color to thrive in this country, we battle normalizing and internalizing situations like this that make not-guilty verdicts acceptable. We protest. We organize. We resist.
AFSC St. Louis
To get involved with AFSC's work in St. Louis, please contact Joshua Saleem at JSaleem@afsc.org.