Taking Action On the Stockley Verdict: Karen House Statement

One of the chief goals of the Catholic Worker is to labor to create a society where it is “easier to be good.” But when justice doesn’t apply equally to the police, as we saw in the “not guilty” verdict of Jason Stockley, it is harder to be good. When justice doesn’t apply equally to our siblings of color, as we see so often and saw particularly in the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith, it is harder to be good. When an atmosphere of fear and thoughtless deference to the police is fueled by the racism in our justice system, it is harder to be good.

Our current reality calls to mind the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.”

We have experienced a very different picture than that painted in the news about the protests: these are not riots, these are protests, and we support the efforts of those who go and stand up for change. We feel the Holy Spirit working to create this large, passionate outpouring of demand for a more justice society, a demand for police accountability, an insistence that black lives matter and must matter – not just among citizens but in the statutes and practices of our justice system. Grace is pouring into the streets, and when we hear calls for order and calm rather than a firm demand for justice, we remember the lament of Dr. King, “I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate.”

Regardless of your thoughts on the tactics of the protesters, the most urgent call to action

must center on the police system in which officers can murder with impunity, reinforcing racism and instilling a culture of fear in the black community. We should fight for a society where it is “easier to be good,” not one in which it is easier for the privileged to feel comfortable. We humbly call on the St. Louis community and our friends across the country to join the efforts in whatever way makes the most sense to you. If you are white or not targeted by racism, be an active and accountable ally to your siblings of color by standing up and fighting back against racism. When the police feel they won’t be held accountable if they abuse their power and murder black bodies in cold blood, we are all less safe. But when the police know that we citizens will hold them accountable whenever the justice system fails, we create an atmosphere of true justice, which goes beyond simple order based on fear. And while the fight for true justice can be demanding, it will always lead to a society where it is “easier to be good.”

Please see our Take Action section for suggested organizations and actions!