Dear Mayor Krewson,
I’m sorry to have to write you again, but I’m appalled by Judge Jimmie Edward’s comments on St. Louis On the Air regarding the gun deaths of our teenagers this summer. This man has no business being in public safety. Please fire him and choose someone who will work in humility and righteousness to create safety for our city. (His comments are at the end, in case you didn’t hear or read it.)
It is not acceptable to blame CHILDREN for their own deaths. Teenagers don’t even have all of their brain working properly. Edwards’ statements here are indicative of the whole of the police discourse I’ve noticed during our time in St. Louis. Some people are innocent (small children, white people) and deserve justice and other people are “in the game” to borrow from The Wire, and thus not worthy of any kind of justice or having time spent on their cases.
I humbly submit that no one in St. Louis who has drawn breath or rolled through a stop sign is innocent. We are all guilty. Jesus says that whoever calls someone “fool” is guilty of murder in their hearts. I’ve called a lot of people fools since I’ve moved here, especially the people who roll through (and/or speed through) stop signs while my children are near the intersection.
But even if we are all guilty, no one should die by violence in our city. Even the people who killed our city’s children are made in the image of God. Who has the right to take the life of another? If death must come, it’s supposed to be at the hands of the state, after a fair trial, and we citizens all share the burden of participation in that death.
What would happen if we treated all crimes the same way, and not hand-wave off the crimes of criminals against each other. What if people who left the path of so-called innocence could still believe that their life mattered to this city? What might change in St. Louis?
The leadership, the law enforcement of this town — and I say that because we are acting like a small town, not a sophisticated city — needs to end the false dichotomies of innocent and evil (especially considering the moral frailty of our police themselves) and say “no citizen of St. Louis should die by violence, no matter what they’ve done.”
I long for a city where every individual feels valued — by their family, their block, their neighborhood, and by their leaders, and a city where children and teenagers are safe. This kind of rhetoric by Judge Edwards misses the mark completely. It is unacceptable and disqualifying. I demand that you fire him and choose someone who cares about the safety of everyone in the city, not just the people who some view as worthy.
Compounded with all this, of course, is the racism in our city and in our police force. It is too easy to brush off the loss of black life by saying “that’s what you get.” I obviously cannot trust Judge Edwards for the safety of my family, and I won’t be able to trust the police at large while they are happy to employ Jeff Roorda. I know you don’t employ him — but nobody should, and I wish I could see you doing more to make that happen.
I am praying that you will be empowered with the leadership ability to make the right choices for my family.
Thank you for your time,
JUDGE JIMMIE EDWARDS’ COMMENTS
“Fenske noted that despite those high hopes, things sometimes go very awry, such as this summer in St. Louis, where 13 children died as a result of gun violence. When she asked Edwards how he keeps young people interested in making a difference from despair in the midst of it, he said it’s “important that our children do not engage in risky behaviors.”
“I’ve been very careful not to talk a lot about the children this summer,” the public safety director continued. “Many of the kids that unfortunately were violently killed were teenagers engaging in criminal behaviors themselves. And so out of the 13, about eight were engaged in criminal behaviors that resulted in their deaths. Our youngsters, our children that were killed this summer were placed in situations by adults that they should not have been placed in.
“And so when children are put in positive situations, we have positive results. When they engage in criminal behaviors, unfortunately we end up with 13 children dead. And so I don’t want to be callous, I do want to make it very, very clear that many of the kids that died this summer were very sophisticated. And our officers are doing their best to make sure we address those, and we’re still very empathetic with respect to their deaths.”