A week ago today the focus in St. Louis became laser sharp. The past week has been one of pain, passion, conflict and conviction.
In St. Louis we know we are deeply divided. However, this past week we have seen people cross traditionally segregated lines to protest together, to police together and to heal together. We have much work to do, but I want to acknowledge that while people have starkly different views on things, those views are not necessarily along racial lines. This is a start.
Now to the work.
We must remember that as a region, we’ve been here before. And thousands of St. Louisans came together to produce the Ferguson Commission Report, which we must now recognize is still our path forward.
The core of what I’ve heard over the past week is a call for Increased accountability. We also know that increased opportunity is critical for making St. Louis equitable.
When it comes to increased accountability, I
- Agree with the Ferguson Commission Report call to actions that we must change the way we handle use of force investigations and prosecutions.
- I agree with the calls to strengthen the Civilian Oversight Board
- I agree that community policing standards and procedures should be developed together with law enforcement, community and neighborhood groups
I know I don’t have decision making power across all of those things but I am committed to adding my political will to the push to find the right way to get those things done. This is by no means a complete list.
On increased opportunity, we know that there is often a focus on jobs. More jobs are good, but making sure that the St. Louisans that most need jobs can access them is even better. Starting this week, the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment changed their hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. In addition, SLATE will be launching SKILL UP STL: a commitment to train and certify 500 St. Louisans in 100 days to make sure they have skills necessary to make a living wage.
I challenge St. Louis businesses, nonprofits and philanthropists to join us in this commitment to invest in the people of this city — in our workforce of today. I look forward to seeing the creative ways you challenge yourself to be part of providing opportunity to the St. Louisans who need it most.
I also challenge St. Louis to double-down on the Ferguson Commission Report. If you haven’t read it, please do. If you have, give your copy to a family member of neighbor. If you are a company or organization that has easy access to printing, print out some copies and hand them out. If you don't have access to a printed copy, the report is searchable by keyword at forwardthroughferguson.org. If you are a policy maker — in government, non profit, neighborhood or church group — understand how the calls to action in the report apply to your work.
The message is clear that we must work more swiftly, more collaboratively and more transformatively as elected officials and community leaders. Our list is much longer than the things mentioned here and we know yours is too. I look forward to working together in new, challenging and even uncomfortable ways to bring new solutions to persistent problems in order to heal our city.