Can Millennials Seek Justice, While Vandalizing?

29 Sep

Can Millennials Seek Justice, While Vandalizing?

By K. Gerald Thomas
 
Now that St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson has exonerated former St. Louis patrolman Jason Stockley of the 2011 murder of Anthony Lamar Smith, in some minds, it’s time to move on, nothing to see here.
 
Protesters will not allow this just to go away (at least not for now) neither will the American Civil Liberties Union, local politicians and clergy and other national civil rights organizations.
 
Ever since the ruling, the many people of St. Louis in the hundreds have peaceably marched in the streets across and different counties carrying placards and signs to express their solidarity and desire to end the police shooting of black men.
 
Cue the Riot Footage: We’ve seen this picture before, the original intent of the organizers of the protest was to march peaceably like Dr. Martin Luther King or Gandhi. But it only takes a few to turn peace into war, and once nightfall came, a small group of thugs and anarchist types went out to cause intentional damage to the protest. 
 
By permitting or committing an act of violence you give naysayers and those few racist cops just what they want, remember this part of history. During the Selma, Alabama voting rights march Dr. King and many others like a young John Lewis faced down Bull Connor and his evil dudes with badges. You also lose the respect of area blacks and whites, who may wish to support your cause, but can’t because violence is attached to it. 
 
The people engaged in the civil rights movement of yesteryear, did not cuss or threaten their advisories or targets, they met Connor’s force with nonviolent resistance, and it got the world’s attention, and changed the laws and gave our nation the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Today, well-intended protesters must disavow and uninvite trouble-makers to and near their causes.
 
Many protesters also took their frustrations out on St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, who represents local government authority, which some are rebuffed by. They damaged her home by splattering red paint and breaking windows.  This isn’t justice, and you’ve illegally disturbed the peace of others.  
                                                      
How do they make a point by throwing red paint and bricks at the newly elected Mayor’s home? In their torch and pick-fork rage, did they give thought to the fact they need her assistance to make changes that will benefit their causes? You never make collateral damage out of those, who can influence and further your causes.
 
The acts of a small batch of Hooligans may have led some area law enforcement to use a very heavy hand on some that were not even part of the protest. To keep order, they may have gone overboard, while also trying to protect themselves, as well. Some of this misdirected action can be avoided by protesters separating themselves from those with vandalism attitudes and actions.
 
Protesters should understand what they face. Missouri is a very red state, with a racist history. Some political leaders do not see people of color as worth their time and thoughts and the current presidential administration thinks the same way. 
 
If protesters are truly committed, they must try doing something that won’t land them in jail. The criminal justice system is always ready to receive another black man or woman, or a well-intended Millennial.
 
Message to the Millennial Marchers: You can’t affect change unless you are part of the system, pull up your pants, put on a shirt and go to school and get an education, most importantly register to vote and vote. It is a shame that in this day and age, the only way to get a movement started is someone often with a criminal record, at the hands of a “rogue” police officer must die. But there have been many situations where law-abiding blacks have been intentionally trolled by some often ill-trained local police departments.  
 
Bottom line:  Stop being afraid of the law enforcement and go to your precinct and meet them, introduce your children to them, so when they see you, you’ll be a familiar face. Police departments throughout, the nation, do what St. Louis City does, enact “community policing.”
 
The way you affect change is by crossing the aisle of differences and working together to offer a better solution to the social and economic challenges that have plagued urban environments like  St. Louis, and our nation for decades.  
 
Editor’s Note:  K. Gerard Thomas is publisher of the St. Louis Evening Whirl.  The opinions expressed not necessarily those of this website.

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