The Rise Of Protest In St. Louis

The Rise Of Protest In St. Louis

Jason Stockley's acquittal isn't well-received.

In December 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri, former police officer Jason Stockley and partner Brian Bianchi attempted to arrest Anthony Lamar Smith during a suspected drug deal. Smith left in his car and the two officers pursued him. During the chase, Stockley is heard saying “going to kill this (expletive), don’t you know it.” The police crashed their SUV into Smith’s car and Stockley emerged, firing five shots into Smith’s car and killing him. On Friday, September 15th, Stockley was acquitted of the crime. He has left the police force and moved to Houston.

Since Friday, hundreds have gathered in St. Louis to protest his acquittal; it isn’t the first time that St. Louis has seen a black man killed by a white officer without apparent justifiability. The case raised numerous questions when a handgun was found in the car after the shooting, as prosecutors argued that Stockley’s DNA was found on the gun where Smith’s was not. The defense countered, positing that Bianchi had yelled “gun” and seen Smith holding a gun as he drove by. Numerous aspects of the events became debatable, but the court did not find “the officer’s conduct...consistent with the conduct of a person intentionally killing another unlawfully.”

The protests have unfolded quickly, and are largely comprised of daily, peaceful marches with chanting demonstrators. The nights, however, see incidents with police and violence. Ultimately, 123 people were arrested Sunday night when protests turned for the worse.

In earlier reports, police chief Lawrence O’Toole was quoted as saying “I’m proud to tell you the City of St. Louis is safe, and the police owned tonight.” He continued, “We’re in control. This is our city, and we’re going to protect it.” Photojournalist David Carson tweeted saying “Police just chanted ‘Whose streets, our streets,’ on Tucker Blvd after making arrests.” Jim Salter and Summer Ballentine of The Associated Press also reported on the chant being heard. The phrase is common amongst Black Lives Matters protesters, and if truly repeated by police in an effort to commandeer, it might buttress the claims that police incited the violence in St. Louis.

Sean Porter, released from jail Monday evening, claims “They threw us on the ground, sprayed us, hit us, everything. It’s tragic.” Police officers have claims of their own, arguing that demonstrators have sprayed them with unknown substances.

Since the mass arrest, protesters have crowded the jail in downtown St. Louis, chanting “Free Our People,” and expressing solidarity with those arrested. On Monday, over 150 protesters marched to city hall, while in Kirkwood, 100 high school students walked out and held a rally. It has been four nights of civil unrest, and with an acquittal in place for an incident that isn’t the first, it’s unforeseeable as to when it will end.

Cover Image Credit: Ryan J. Reilly / Twitter

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'As A Woman,' I Don't Need To Fit Your Preconceived Political Assumptions About Women

I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.


It is quite possible to say that the United States has never seen such a time of divisiveness, partisanship, and extreme animosity of those on different sides of the political spectrum. Social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are saturated with posts of political opinions and are matched with comments that express not only disagreement but too often, words of hatred. Many who cannot understand others' political beliefs rarely even respect them.

As a female, Republican, college student, I feel I receive the most confusion from others regarding my political opinions. Whenever I post or write something supporting a conservative or expressing my right-leaning beliefs and I see a comment has been left, I almost always know what words their comment will begin with. Or in conversation, if I make my beliefs known and someone begins to respond, I can practically hear the words before they leave their mouth.

"As a woman…"

This initial phrase is often followed by a question, generally surrounding how I could publicly support a Republican candidate or maintain conservative beliefs. "As a woman, how can you support Donald Trump?" or "As a woman, how can you support pro-life policies?" and, my personal favorite, "As a woman, how did you not want Hillary for president?"

Although I understand their sentiment, I cannot respect it. Yes, being a woman is a part of who I am, but it in no way determines who I am. My sex has not and will not adjudicate my goals, my passions, or my work. It will not influence the way in which I think or the way in which I express those thoughts. Further, your mention of my sex as the primary logic for condemning such expressions will not change my adherence to defending what I share. Nor should it.

To conduct your questioning of my politics by inferring that my sex should influence my ideology is not only offensive, it's sexist.

It disregards my other qualifications and renders them worthless. It disregards my work as a student of political science. It disregards my hours of research dedicated to writing about politics. It disregards my creativity as an author and my knowledge of the subjects I choose to discuss. It disregards the fundamental human right I possess to form my own opinion and my Constitutional right to express that opinion freely with others. And most notably, it disregards that I am an individual. An individual capable of forming my own opinions and being brave enough to share those with the world at the risk of receiving backlash and criticism. All I ask is for respect of that bravery and respect for my qualifications.

Words are powerful. They can be used to inspire, unite, and revolutionize. Yet, they can be abused, and too comfortably are. Opening a dialogue of political debate by confining me to my gender restricts the productivity of that debate from the start. Those simple but potent words overlook my identity and label me as a stereotype destined to fit into a mold. They indicate that in our debate, you cannot look past my sex. That you will not be receptive to what I have to say if it doesn't fit into what I should be saying, "as a woman."

That is the issue with politics today. The media and our politicians, those who are meant to encourage and protect democracy, divide us into these stereotypes. We are too often told that because we are female, because we are young adults, because we are a minority, because we are middle-aged males without college degrees, that we are meant to vote and to feel one way, and any other way is misguided. Before a conversation has begun, we are divided against our will. Too many of us fail to inform ourselves of the issues and construct opinions that are entirely our own, unencumbered by what the mainstream tells us we are meant to believe.

We, as a people, have become limited to these classifications. Are we not more than a demographic?

As a student of political science, seeking to enter a workforce dominated by men, yes, I am a woman, but foremost I am a scholar, I am a leader, and I am autonomous. I refuse to be categorized and I refuse to be defined by others. Yes, I am a woman, but I am so much more.

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Money IS Speech

Surprise! The left is being dishonest, again...


The use of money in politics, especially in elections, is an issue sure to stir debate. This topic first came to political prominence during the Supreme Court case Citizens United v. FEC (2010), in which the Supreme Court boldly upheld a constitutional right allowing corporations and Unions to donate to political campaigns without restriction. This case followed the Buckley v. Valeo (1976) decision, which came to the conclusion that limits on election spending, specifically found in the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1976, were unconstitutional. Both decisions, in my opinion, were decided in an ethical and moral manner, despite what fear-mongering conspiracy theorists on the left may want you to believe. For example, Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks, in a 2011 video titled 'Survey: Massive Lobbyist Power After Citizens United,' is on record lying about the former case, Citizens United.

He first insinuates that lobbyists are now blackmailing United States Senators by threatening to donate to political rivals; though he provides no evidence. He then suggests that this type of blackmail has lead Senators to strike deals with these lobbyists, in the form of a quid pro quo. Not only is his evidence scant, and at times misleading, he is also defaming the characters of seemingly innocent public officials. These types of conspiracies degrade the trust we must possess with our Representatives, which has lead to an unfathomable amount of people calling for an abdication of the first amendment, as it applies to speech in politics. To illustrate, according to a New York Times poll conducted on May 23, 2015, 84% of respondents believed that money has "too much" of a role in political campaigns today.

According to the same survey, 77% of respondents also believed that the amount of money a person can legally donate to a political campaign should be "limited." But, the only possible way to limit the amount of money an individual can use in a political campaign, is to infringe upon the first amendment, which allows speech of all kinds, no matter the amount of speech used or the identity of the speaker. Also, proponents of this idea have yet to define what "limit" means in this context. This, of course, does not matter to the radical anarchist. They are content with letting the government decide whose speech is worth protecting, and whose is not.

This, in my opinion, is a slippery slope not worth traversing down. Therefore, we are left with two options: amending the first amendment, thus setting a dangerous precedent for other amendments in the Bill of Rights, or accepting and allowing speech of all kinds, even speech we disagree with. In my opinion, the latter option is the most ethical. Western Civilization rests upon the idea that everyone can contribute to the national good; yes, even people who have accumulated more money throughout their lives, or those who have been born into wealth.

Therefore, allowing debate, mostly through political advertisements, 'get out the vote' efforts, and general campaign spending, can only strengthen and help educate our society. But, unfortunately, trendy Senators like Bernie Sanders, who has garnered the support of millions of young Americans, has coaxed his supporters into believing the former supposition. This fact alone is not problematic, in fact, disagreement of all sorts is healthy in a Democracy, no matter the ramifications that such policy implementations will be sure to have. It is the process by which he coaxes them that is problematic. Bernie, along with much of the leadership on the left, demonizes those who hold contrary views.

This has created an enormous amount of polarization among politicians, but, more importantly, among ordinary citizens as well. This type of rhetoric spouted all too often by the Democratic leadership, specifically on this controversial issue, has created a cesspool in American politics. If left unchecked, the Democratic leadership will continue to pull our country apart. It is, therefore, our duty as citizens to stand up to the now mainstream radical-left, and reject their plea to uproot our country's values.

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