The Washington Post reports, with mixed emotion, that the governor of Missouri has dispatched some members of the Missouri Highway Patrol to St. Louis in response to a surge in shootings and assaults in that city. (St. Louis is on pace for its most homicides in more than two decades). Similarly, last month, after 25 people were shot in a nightclub not far from the governor’s mansion in Little Rock, governor Asa Hutchinson organized state troopers and FBI agents to respond to “a looming cloud of violence” in that city.
Washington Post reporters Tim Craig and Emma Ockerman fret that the two governors are “reopening historical tensions.” But they don’t live in St. Louis or Little Rock and they have no responsibility for public safety in either city.
That responsibility falls on mayors Lyda Krewson and Mark Stodola, respectively. Both are Democrats. Both support the decision of the Republican governors to send in more law officers. And why not? It’s a no-brainer.
As Krewson puts it: “As long as it’s done in a responsible way — and I don’t have any reason to believe it won’t be — I think it’s a good help.” Krewson, by the way, has personal experience with St. Louis homicide. In 1995, she saw her husband fatally shot during an attempted carjacking in front of their home in the city’s West End.
There are, to be sure, local politicians who have major reservations about sending in the highway patrol. After Missouri governor Eric Greitens was heard telling Missouri troopers “Let’s go get them,” one St. Louis Democrats said: “A lot of folks wonder who ‘them’ is. . .” “Them” is the criminals, moron.
This Washington Post story reminds me of one from last year, out of Baltimore. In a West Baltimore church:
40 or so longtime residents. . .— many of whom were older black women afraid to walk to the store or leave their homes at night — had come to urge police to clear their corners of miscreants and restore order to their crime-plagued community.
“Please, help me,” pleaded gas station owner Chaudhry Masood, whose parking lot has been overrun by loiterers and where a 17-year-old was recently shot and killed.
Meanwhile, in another room at the same church:
Justice Department civil rights attorneys were discussing how to overhaul the police department with another group of residents intent on curbing the abusive behavior of corner-clearing cops. Those attending included black youths long targeted by police.
Although the church is located in the smallest of the city’s seven patrol areas, that patrol area has the city’s highest crime rates, according to the Post. In 2015, there were 66 killings in the district’s 2.8 square miles.
Care to guess how many of the 66 victims were Black? Care to guess how many of the 110 homicide victims in St. Louis in the first seven months of 2017 were Black?
I’m guessing the vast majority, in both cases.
Yet, just as the Obama Justice Department wanted the Baltimore police to pay more attention to wealthier neighborhoods where, it speculated, whites use illegal drugs to about the same degree as blacks in poorer neighborhoods, there apparently are those who object to diverting Missouri highway patrolmen from farm country to St. Louis.
Apparently, black lives don’t matter to them.