Yesterday, Governor Nixon briefed you on the state's and the region's public safety preparations. Charlie and I talked afterwards and we agreed that is there is more that needs to be said.
Neither of us knows what the grand jury is going to find.
Neither of us knows what will happen after the finding is announced.
But we can tell you that both city government and county government are working together to prepare for whatever is to come: we are going to keep people and their homes safe, always. We are going to protect the constitutional rights of peaceful protesters, whenever. We are going to move our region forward, regardless.
Tomorrow, you will hear more from Chief Belmar and Chief Dotson. They are well prepared. Preparation includes training their men and women, and discussing tactics. It also includes listening to the protesters, agreeing where they can on their requests, and keeping open the lines of communication to prevent misunderstandings.
I have directed Chief Dotson to make it part of his mission to protect the constitutional rights of the protesters, to give them some leeway where he can to occupy public spaces, if that is their choice.
I have also told him that his first job is to keep all of our citizens safe, and to prevent violence or looting. Violence is not constitutionally protected. Damaging property is not constitutionally protected. The department will do everything it can to prevent it.
I have a great deal of confidence in Chief Dotson and the men and women of his department. They deserve our support. They certainly have mine.
Regardless of the grand jury's decision, regardless of any public reaction, life in St. Louis will go on. Most of my focus has been on how different that life will be.
How do we make St. Louis a more just place for everyone? How do we build trust between our police departments and all of the citizens they serve? How do we address the concentrated poverty that is at the center of all of this?
We've begun some important conversations, and made some important starts.
Already, we are going to expand our summer jobs program for at risk youth, and have dismissed arrest warrants for thousands of our residents who missed their court dates for minor traffic offenses. We are also working with the governor and our Congressional delegation on an initiative to put 3,000 out of school and unemployed people to work. We are partnering with our African American police officers to recruit more African American officers. And, we are close to a compromise on creating a Civilian Oversight Board to improve our police department.
Charlie and I believe that it is important that our constituents -- all of them -- know that we are going to keep them safe during the demonstrations. It is also important for our constituents to know that we will get through this. And, that we are already laying the groundwork for being a different and better region.
And that this change is necessary, inevitable and irreversible.