M4RJ Solidarity Statement with St. Louis

The March for Racial Justice is angered and saddened to hear that St. Louis police officer, Jason Stockley, was acquitted today from killing  Anthony Lamar Smith, after shooting him five times from inches away.

This verdict falls on the 54th anniversary of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama, when white supremacists killed 4 black girls aged 11-14 in that terrorist attack.  It comes two days after the DOJ declared that it will not bring charges against Baltimore PD in the killing of Freddie Gray, whose spine was snapped in the back of a police van.

This Stockley verdict is the latest in a reliable pattern of not-guilty verdicts in police killing cases. Earlier this year, Jeronimo Yanez, the officer who murdered Philando Castile, was acquitted, an unjust verdict that inspired the March for Racial Justice. The murders of innocent Americans by police continue unabated.  We are here to say no more. No more killer police. No more police violence. No more acquittals of police murderers. No more death at the hands of white supremacists.

State sanctioned white supremacy has afflicted this nation since centralized municipal police departments emerged in the 1830s. For 187 years, the truth of policing has become clearer and clearer - it has no regard for the value of black and brown life. As long as there has been systemic and institutionalized violence against our nation’s black and brown citizens, there has been a movement to dismantle it.

This tradition continues today. Since the killing of Trayvon Martin in 2012, the nation’s eyes and ears routinely come back to another dead black man, woman, or child killed at the hands of police. Killed again with police and media-led character assassination. Killed a third time as the justice system fails the victims and their loved ones. Killed a fourth time when the victims’ murderers are rewarded - in the way Philando Castile’s killer was paid $48,500 to resign.

We have a president who publicly encourages police “not to be too nice” to suspects. We have a government who has never felt it necessary to count the lives that have been taken by police.  This current administration recently lifted the ban on excess military weapons being given to local police departments. AG Sessions is now putting all PD reform agreements under review effectively killing the little progress that’s been made.

We stand in solidarity and deep love with Anthony Lamar Smith’s family and friends, the Anti-Racist Collective, and the St, Louis community at large - all who’ve been fighting for justice for Smith for five long years. On September 30th, we march for them and countless others who have been failed by our racist police and legal system.


Andrea Ciannavei