2 min read
Posted on 11.24.14
  • 2 min read
  • Posted on 11.24.14
  • Filed under
  • Mayor Slay
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Ferguson
  • Shaw neighborhood
  • Thanksgiving
  • change

St. Louis is a region that endures during challenging times. We have seen it time and time again. We have seen it in the face of personal tragedy and in the aftermath of natural disaster.

We face one of those times today.

What happened to Michael Brown has deeply divided us. Whatever is announced this evening, some people are going to be angry and frustrated. And, some people are going to be angry and frustrated by that.

My message to the protesters: We will protect your right to assemble and to speak your mind. Like we did last night, we will give you leeway to occupy public space. And, we will listen to your grievances.

But, turning violent or damaging property will not be tolerated.

To the people who disagree with the protesters: The actions we are taking are designed to protect you, your family, your homes, businesses and neighborhoods. That is our paramount concern.

Over the next few days, we expect to see St. Louisans loudly and passionately expressing their views.

We expect to see some of the best police officers in the country protecting everyone's rights and keeping everyone safe.

But, after that, it will be the time to heal.To close the racial divide.And, to make St. Louis a better place for everyone -- regardless of the color of their skin.

We all may experience some inconvenience in the coming days. Depending on the circumstances, we may allow demonstrators to slow down traffic. But, we will not allow them to hurt anyone or damage any property.

That's how it went last night in the Shaw neighborhood. It wasn't perfect. There were two acts of vandalism. But, there was no other property damage, and, most importantly, no one was seriously injured.

When President Abraham Lincoln first proclaimed a National Day of Thanksgiving,  it's worth recalling that he sought to help a nation heal, and to work together toward the promise of what he called "a large increase in freedom."

The world is going to be watching us. They are going to watch how we handle our disagreements in the coming days, and how we make needed change in the coming months and years. St. Louis finds itself with an opportunity to show the country the ways in which a community can be made fairer and more just for everyone. We must seize that opportunity together.