Whites, blacks in Belleville protest a police shooting

A protest dubbed the “Stand With St Louis Against The Stockley Verdict” is expected Sunday in Belleville, Illinois, the Belleville News-Democrat reports. Racism in our larger community trickles down into our schools, primarily because it takes a heavy toll on students and teachers in those schools.

The St Louis metropolitan area has seen a number of protests since a not guilty verdict was handed down in the city in a case in which a white police officer, who attended high school in Belleville, killed a young African-American man after a high-speed chase.

Former St Louis police officer Jason Stockley pursued a vehicle driven by Lamar Smith, 24, in 2011. After Smith stopped, Stockley walked over to his car, fired his weapon five times, and killed him. Those facts are undisputed. A gun was reportedly found in Smith’s car during the subsequent investigation, but the gun had DNA only from Stockley, not from Smith. Stockley was charged with first-degree murder but claimed he acted in self-defense.

Stockley is a graduate of Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville. The not guilty verdict on first-degree murder charges was handed down on September 15 by a judge, not decided by a jury.

Police in the city say protests during the day have been peaceful but those at night not so much. Wearing riot gear, police have clashed with protesters many times since the verdict.

Another protest was expected to occur this evening in St Louis, but this time, the demonstrators were expected to be mostly white, according to a report in the Associated Press.

This protest has been dubbed a “White Allies Only” rally and was planned for 6:30 at Kiener Plaza in downtown St Louis.

Protest organizer Cori Bush said people of many races are upset and angry about the treatment of blacks in St Louis. She said the rally will help drive that point home.

“I think it’s great for people to know there are white people that believe black lives matter and aren’t afraid to show it, that want to tear down systemic racism,” the AP quoted Bush as saying.

The St Louis Post-Dispatch reported that the number of fatal police shootings in St Louis so far in 2017 was already a 10-year high, even with three months left. Police have fatally shot eight people so far, compared to five in 2016. All of the people shot by officers were armed, police say.

From the lectern at Westminster College, a liberal arts college in Fulton, Missouri, US Sen Bernie Sanders of Vermont delivered a speech that focused on foreign affairs but didn’t miss the opportunity to suggest the US can’t claim moral authority with the rest of the world when injustice is so prevalent here.

“We need serious reforms in policing and the criminal justice system,” the paper quoted him as saying, “so that the life of every person is equally valued and protected.”

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Paul Katula
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.