The Black Attorneys of Legal Aid Caucus strongly denounces the verdict issued on September 15, 2017 in St. Louis, in which Officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty of Murder for the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith. Once again, a police officer has killed a black man who was not armed, claiming that he feared for his safety. And once again, the criminal “justice” system has sanctioned this killing by refusing to hold the officer accountable for his actions.
This verdict reaffirms a bitter truth that we, as black people, must grapple with on a daily basis: Black life continues to be of no value in this society. Wearing a police uniform confers authority upon the wearer to kill black people with apparent impunity, and the whole populace—whether we choose to individually acknowledge it or not—understands this. It is incumbent upon those of us who care about equality, care about justice, and care about the rights of people to live as human beings, to stand up and be counted. It is incumbent upon those of us who care about true equality to demand actual accountability of law enforcement officers. Flagrant miscarriages of justice like those evident in this death of Anthony Lamar Smith; in the case of Eric Garner; in the case of Tamir Rice; in the case of Sandra Bland and so many others will not be abated unless we make our voices heard.