Understanding board resolution 139
Fellow St. Louisans:
Many people have rushed to denounce the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen for paying its respects to Anthony Lamar Smith in an honorary resolution on Friday, September 22. To those who have questions about what occurred at Friday’s Board meeting, I offer the following thoughts:
- Resolution 139 allowed the Board of Aldermen to unanimously share a moment of sympathy and compassion with the mother of Mr. Smith, who lost her son in December 2011. As a Catholic who is taught to value all life, I stand by the Board’s decision to support a grieving mother who endured a very public family tragedy.
- Resolution 139 does not critique Officer Jason Stockley, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, or the verdict in the Stockley case. Instead, it recognizes that Mr. Smith's death returned the City’s attention to a complicated and important issue – a fact that is impossible to deny following a week of protests and debate throughout St. Louis.
- Paying respects after someone’s death is always about seeing the good in that person. Resolution 139 does not honor Mr. Smith's prior criminal actions, nor does it seek to insult members of law enforcement. I continue to both respect the Court's decision in the Stockley case and show my support for the officers of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. My hope is that those who read Resolution 139 – and take the time to consider its true purpose – will see that it in no way diminishes that support.
- Resolution 139 demonstrated a capacity for unity among St. Louis' 28 Wards at a time when common ground is desperately needed. To equate it with a display of poor leadership suggests a lack of appreciation for the healing that is required in our city – and for what we can achieve when elected officials find the courage to demonstrate open-mindedness and empathy during difficult times.
At Friday’s Board meeting, many of my fellow Aldermen and I also voted “no” on two other resolutions that were mostly ignored by local media outlets. Resolution 140 advocated for the election, rather than the appointment, of judges in St. Louis City; Resolution 141 sought to summon Police Chief O’Toole to discuss the rhetoric that some police officers have allegedly directed towards peaceful protesters.
If you find yourself discussing the Stockley verdict or Resolution 139 with others in the days ahead, consider what many members of the Board attempted to demonstrate on Friday: that it is possible to show respect for the loss Anthony Lamar Smith’s life and also stand in support of fine men and women who work tirelessly to protect our City.
You don’t have to choose sides – you just have keep trying to see the best in both of them.
Alderman, Ward 16
City of St. Louis
Tom Oldenburg is Alderman for Ward 16 in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, which includes St. Louis Hills, as well as portions of the Lindenwood Park, Parkway Gardens, Princeton Heights, Southampton and Villanova neighborhoods. For more information about Ward 16, or to contact Tom, visit ward16stl.com.
The Board of Aldermen is the lawmaking body of the City of St. Louis. There are twenty-eight aldermen, one from each ward in the City, as well as a President of the Board. For more information about the Board of Aldermen, including the text of proposed bills and resolutions, visit the Board's page on the St. Louis City website.