In Response to the Stockley Verdict
Statement written by Socialist Party USA members in St. Louis, MO and affirmed by the SPUSA National Action Committee
In 2011, former St. Louis Police Officer -Jason Stockley- was found on video chasing Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man, using racial slurs and making death threats. Stockley also illegally had a personal firearm on his person while on duty. It is believed that the officer planted a gun on Smith because the only DNA which was found on the weapon in his car was Stockley’s. The DNA was found under the screws of the gun, meaning it’s likely Stockley owned the gun and took it apart at one point to clean it. Despite all of the evidence against the former officer, Stockley was found not guilty of all charges. Why did it take six years before a trial took place? Why do people of color have to live in fear because St. Louis police officers get away with murder?
Protesters are flooding the streets and malls of St. Louis and surrounding areas because of the verdict on Stockley. Judge Wilson claims that it would be an abnormality for an “urban heroin dealer” to be without a gun. We understand that when Judge Wilson says this, he’s “politely” making an accusation based on the race of Stockley’s victim, Anthony Lamar Smith. Police officers are responding with inexcusable violence against innocent bystanders who just happen to be in the area. During a downtown St. Louis demonstration, a sixty-year old school teacher attempted to cross the street during the protest, and as a response, riot police officers tripped her down into the street, beat her while she laid there defenselessly, then marched over her without mercy.
During these protests, officers illegally detained several hundred people in a synagogue, threatening to attack them with chemicals and shooting rubber bullets into the building. When the protesters were finally released, the police started pepper spraying the crowd upon their exit. Police cars were also allegedly driving into crowds of protesters, nearly running them over. Many protesters were tear gassed, and during one demonstration, officers seized protesters’ apple cider vinegar, used to reduce the effects of tear gas, claiming it was an “unknown and dangerous chemical”. It was also reported by a transgender comrade that police officers were spitting on dead names of trans-people that had been written on the sidewalks in chalk, smashing things, and blaming the vandalism on the protestors.
This is not the first time an officer in Missouri has killed a person of color without being convicted. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) kills more citizens in absolute numbers on average than any other police force in the nation, and that’s no accident considering we have a large population of people of color, immigrants, religious minorities, and working class people. In the capitalist system, the primary role of these officers is not to protect the public, but to defend the capitalist system and the private property of the capitalist class. As long as we’re under this system, police officers will continue to assault protesters and kill people of color. It is in the interest of the capitalist class to keep a boot on the throats of working people, especially people of color, in order to weaken the bonds of the working class through racism and fear.
This is also not the first time we have witnessed police officers in St. Louis wrongfully attacking fellow activists and bystanders with deadly and unnecessary force. During an LGBTQIA+ march on February 25th, 2017 starting at Union Station, police officers threw punches at trans-people, assaulted an individual who was pushing their partner in a wheelchair, and purposely tripped one protester as an excuse to arrest them. Two police officers also drew their pistols on protesters but dropped them in the chaos. In Ferguson, an officer shot a woman with a tear gas canister in the chest, which killed her on the spot. When street medics tried to revive her, the police officers pointed their guns at them. Missouri protesters have been treated in such a despicable manner for decades now, and it’s just now getting the attention of the mainstream media due to Ferguson and the Jason Stockley verdict.
Because this so-called “justice” system has proven itself to be racist, where police can murder people of color and get away with it despite DNA, video, and audio evidence, we will show one hundred percent solidarity with protesters against the Stockley verdict. Because we’re beyond sick and tired of the disgusting treatment of our comrades and fellow activists by police officers, we will support the protests as well as a diversity of tactics. In solidarity with the protests, people of color, and Anthony Lamar Smith and his family, we as members of Socialist Party USA in the Greater St. Louis area, will join the streets and organize action against police violence.
written by Tyler Robert Baugher, John Weiss, Will Chaney and Thom Null