When I saw crime tape draped around the steps to the apartment building next door to the Rowan Community Center, I couldn’t fathom what may have happened but I knew it wouldn’t be anything good.
The center is home to a number of groups I belong to, and I have witnessed the surrounding neighborhood’s fair share of violence. I was totally unprepared to later hear that a baby had been beaten to death by her stepfather for alleging getting a piece of cake without permission. Read More at the St. Louis American.
It doesn’t seem possible that it’s been 20 years since Rwanda “fell into deep ditches of darkness.” That was how Rwanda’s minister of foreign affairs, Louise Mushikiwabol, characterized the period where over a million Tutsis were slaughtered by Hutus in the short span of about 100 days . The intensity of the violence still is unimaginable.
Several movies were made based upon the atrocities. Hotel Rwanda is probably the most remembered and had the most commercial success. Hotel Rwanda gave us a glimpse of what genocide looked like between two tribes who shared a common culture, history and country. I read the book by Immaculee Ilibagiza. She’s a Tutsi whose life was saved, along with several others, by living in the bathroom of a Hutu minister during the holocaust. It was a difficult read for me.
While the genocide was taking place, most of the world’s governments stood silent. Then President Bill Clinton justified his lack of intervention by hiding behind the legal definition of genocide; what was happening in Rwanda was not technically genocide.
Rwanda has tried to engage in mass healing, convening truth and reconciliation circles similar to those carried out after the end of apartheid in South Africa. Seeing your parents hacked to death with machetes or being forced to have sex with your sister before she is killed in front of you–these are memories that don’t go away easily.
When I heard what Terry Robinson had done, I knew what kind of bravery this took. But I still wondered what the end game would be. A number of intersecting issues started flying around in my head – rogue cops, retaliation, prison recidivism, snitching, local control, transparency, etc.
Robinson, young and black, recorded two St. Louis cops on his cell phone allegedly pressuring him to come up with someone to plant a gun on or else they’d arrest him and charge him with gun possession. Read more.
On the same note but in another city… Philadelphia Daily Newsreporters Barbara Laker and Wendy Ruderman uncovered allegations of corruption within the police department’s narcotics squad, including falsified warrants, robbing innocent store owners and sexual assault. Because of their expose’, the female reporters caught hell from the Fraternal Order of Police who did dangerous stuff like post their home addresses on the FOP’s website, threaten their lives, etc.
This kind of corruption is not new but becoming more and more blatant. Citizens have the power to stop the abuse of police powers. In St. Louis, we need a real and effective civilian oversight board for the police department.