from Pax Christi St. Louis
To the Citizens, Police, Criminal Justice System and Political Leaders in St Louis County and Missouri:
In light of the recent Grand Jury decision, we are disappointed and saddened because of the lack of clear accountability for the taking of a young man’s life. We thoughtfully and prayerfully call for actions to end systemic racism and structural oppression, locally and nationally. The casual disregard for the lives of the poor, especially young black men, is a moral scandal. Our laws, policies and regulations must be revised so those currently disenfranchised need no longer fear injustice and the implicit threat to their lives.
Accordingly we join others in calling for full accountability any time a life is taken. Police officers in particular should be models when enforcing the law. Citizen review boards, formed to assure equality of all, should be established to provide oversight to police departments, and Quality Policing Initiatives brought forward from the community should be reviewed and implemented.
We call for a demilitarization of the police force. While we do not condone destruction of property, looting, or violent behavior of any kind, we hope that better police methods can be used, while still protecting the right to protest and the lives of all citizens.
We do not believe that police officers should be trained to ‘shoot to kill.’
And finally, we believe that police departments should represent the communities they police, both racially and geographically.
May the spirit of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s ‘nonviolent social change to build the beloved community’ be the central theme in how we interact with one another. And, may the Peace of Christ be paramount in our hearts.