COLUMBIA - In the wake of the Jason Stockley verdict, people on the MU campus are calling for racial equality.
Students, faculty and staff gathered Friday afternoon to discuss the verdict.
Stockley, a former St. Louis Metropolitan police officer, was found not guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Smith, a black man.
Protests erupted in St. Louis following the verdict, with demonstrators clashing with riot police.
Stephen Graves, a post-doctor professor in political science and black studies, said the Stockley case is not just one incident and is not only about just one race or one group of people.
“There are always members of the American citizenry and American communities are feeling affected,” Graves said. “We should all feel somewhat disheartened about things that are happening.”
Graves said it is important there are safe places for students to go, where they feel comfortable to share their frustrations and feel the connectivity.
Olivia McGee, a MU freshman, also attended the discussion.
“Prior to the meeting, I hadn’t heard anything about the verdict,” McGee said. “This is a very emotional time for a lot of people and it is good to know that there’s someone out there that cares about."
In terms of moving forward, Graves emphasized the essence of bringing about a sense of community, creating spaces and opportunities for people to have open conversations where they can express their ideas continually.
“All the things that need to be done is that these conversations about race need to take place in all disciplines and take place more frequently,” Graves said. “It just can’t be every time there’s something negative in the press happens or something racial tension happen on campus and we start to say questions about race.”
Graves also urges revolutions within existing systems.
“There needs to be some institutional tweaks and situational changes that take place within the police department, within our justice systems and within our legal systems,” Graves said.
MU Chancellor Alexander Cartwright released a statement shortly after the verdict:
The University supports every individual’s right to express personal opinions and feelings in a peaceful manner. Our values of Respect, Responsibility, Discovery and Excellence guide all of us, and we remain committed to free expression, but that expression must be shared in a peaceful manner.
It is important for all members of our community to know they are respected, valued, safe and a vital part of creating a positive culture on our campus. We are aware that conversations are being planned around campus. We will be sure to let you know as the details are finalized so that we can come together as a community to engage in meaningful dialogue.