Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Playing a Role in Addressing Inequities and Injustice in Society

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Playing a Role in Addressing Inequities and Injustice in Society

Article excerpt

One of my law school mentors, James Boyd White, wrote a book titled "When Words Lose Their Meaning." As he explained, sometimes the nature of a situation is such that it can be difficult to find the language that is appropriate to speak meaningfully about the situation.

The protests that have followed the Jason Stockley verdict, and more specifically the social condition that led to the protests, is one of those situations for me. There are such deep-seated issues at play here that it can be difficult to come to terms with those issues or to find a meaningful way to talk about them.

Reasonable minds can differ on the technical legal arguments of the case. I'm not here to address that issue. Regardless of one's views on the verdict, the reality is that members of the greater St. Louis community, including many of those who have been engaging in peaceful protests, have been bearing the burden of centuries of inequitable treatment, and we should be sensitive to that injustice. We should also be mindful of the role we can play in addressing inequities and injustice in society.

On Friday, our law school's Scott Hall, although on card-read-access only, was open for business. Those of us who were here in the building saw peaceful protesters gather in front of the Carnahan Courthouse. We saw members of the clergy pray together in the center of Tucker Boulevard. We saw protesters move to various points around the downtown community. We saw no direct impact on the building or on the law school community, other than that created by our own decisions.

As expected, the protests throughout the day were overwhelmingly nonviolent. We were seeing the First Amendment in action, and that is a powerful experience. It's a reminder of the strong civil liberties that form the foundation of this great democratic experiment. And the protests themselves are a sobering reminder of the work still to be done.

Notably, after the organizers of the protests called an end to the demonstrations on Friday and Saturday evenings, some opportunists and mischief-makers engaged in destruction of property in the Central West End and in the Loop. …

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