The Way I See It
Published in St. Louis American, November 6, 2014
Recently I ran across a 1988 letter from St. Louis Police Chief Robert Scheetz to an African-American clergy. It acknowledged a meeting with a group (of which I’m sure I was a part) around police-community issues and cited a number of documents the chief was including that had been requested in the meeting.
These included the department manual, its policy on firearms, the current Academy curriculum for recruits, and stats on shots fired by police officers. I can’t tell you how many times groups that I’ve been involved with have requested the documents Scheetz referred to in his letter.
It’s no wonder that informed citizens such as Mary Clemons are expressing both weariness and wariness at Governor Nixon’s announcement of the Ferguson Commission to explore the factors leading to a Ferguson uprising.
Clemons’s recent commentary in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch states “that there is no new ground to be broken.” She asserts that we already “know many of the things that are wrong; they have been identified time and time again” and goes on to identify major reports and their important findings that have found little traction. And can we say 1968 Kerner Commission Report?
I suggest that the governor’s commission is cover for Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch, who’s been playing games with the grand jury from day one. The many leaks over the last couple of weeks have only inflamed a community fighting for justice and real transparency.
McCulloch and his enforcers are spending a lot of time and money preparing for what comes after the announcement of the grand jury. If only all this effort could be put on the front end to prevent the shooting death of the Mike Browns of the world and build processes that are fair and transparent. McCulloch has no care about what his office has been unleashing for the last 20 years.
The St. Louis County Police have ordered about $170,000 in weapons such as riot helmets, shields, teargas, grenades and head-splitting batons. It also ordered some new toys such as pepper balls, which are like paint balls except they explode with a powerful chemical irritant when it hits a protestor, and CS sting grenades, which shoot out dozens of rubber bullets and a powdered chemical upon impact. This is equipment that the department is willing to disclose; we don’t the full scope of its enhanced arsenal.
St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson has ordered $325,000 in equipment to use on protestors but isn’t telling what his department purchased. We’ll know it when we feel it.
A no-fly zone has been requested by the County so that media won’t have access to an aerial view of the hurt about to be put on peaceful protestors.
With all the people in authority putting their attention on violence against citizens, those of us who are responsible and courageous must step up to be in the streets as protestors, observers, caregivers and protectors of justice.
Brace yourself, St. Louis. Hurricane McCulloch is coming.