When I was a kid growing up in St. Louis, we used to take a sort of grim pride in the fact that our home town was always at or near the top of the FBI’s statistical reports for homicide and other violent crimes. Now that it’s my granddaughter who’s growing up in St. Louis, I find it much harder to see the bright side of those reports.
I was pleased, therefore, by a recent Saint Louis Post Dispatch article about the city’s MLK day celebration–especially this part, which suggests that two recently appointed city officials may be serious about tackling the problem of violent crime:
Jimmie Edwards, the city’s new public safety director, did not waste time getting to his point.
“This message is for black folk,” Edwards said during remarks Monday at the annual downtown ceremony honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Of the city’s 205 murders last year, 204 of the victims were African-Americans, Edwards said. “One hundred percent of the people that were caught and accused of those crimes were African-Americans. We have to address that. We cannot go forward and continue King’s dream unless we look in the mirror and address that problem. That’s a problem that’s on us.”
Edwards, a former circuit judge, made his remarks to a boisterous crowd in the Old Courthouse rotunda as new Police Chief John Hayden stood by his side. Both men are African-American.
“In order for Chief Hayden to have any success, in order for Judge Edwards to have any success, you’ve got to step forward,” Edwards said, urging the public to report crimes and work with law enforcement to create a safer community.
King talked of a revolution, but profound change cannot happen without buy-in from everyone, Edwards said.
“This is real talk,” he said.