There was an assertion on the Post-Dispatch editorial page on Sept. 19 that St. Louis protesters don’t know what they want, or that nothing is in place to address unrest regarding a judge’s decision to exonerate a police officer from murder charges relating to Anthony Lamar Smith.
That is simply not the case. On Sept. 22, Forward Through Ferguson released a statement urging action to reform the region’s policing and court systems so they are fair for everyone. It’s been co-signed by more than 45 organizations.
The statement asked civic leaders, elected officials and others to back seven areas of reform so African-Americans are no longer harmed or killed by unfair policing.
What was stated was not new. It reiterated reforms endorsed by the Ferguson Commission report two years ago after massive community input through meetings, workgroups, research and dialogue. There were 189 calls to action in areas involving justice, youth, opportunity and racial reconciliation, all centered around building a racially equitable St. Louis.
Forward Through Ferguson is demanding leadership that doesn’t just endorse the report but takes unflinching ownership of it. It is in this way our region heals and “moves forward through Ferguson” to a place that is just and prosperous for all.
The statement released Sept. 22 demands:
• Curbing the use of police force.
• Better data and transparency on the use of police force.
• Stronger civilian oversight.
• Officer wellness support.
• An overhaul of police response to demonstrations.
• Reform of the municipal court response to nonviolent offenses.
• More community policing.
It’s been frustrating for St. Louis as many have wondered if we’ve gone backward. As leaders of organizations collaborating to create equity, we want to remind our leaders: We have the blueprint. The community laid the foundation. It’s time to start building up the solutions.
Jason Purnell, For the Sake of All
Katie Kaufmann, Ready by 21 St. Louis
Karl Guenther, Community Builders Network