Injustice for All

The city's image problems cut across race lines when it comes to crime

Police officials have publicly criticized Kessler for not bringing forth the witnesses, but he has told the RFT and other media outlets that the witnesses -- young black men -- are too afraid of the police to go in for questioning. So far, Kessler has made them available to the media but not to authorities.

That's not the way these things are supposed to work, but, then again, this isn't supposed to be a city where demonstrators march outside a hospital with signs reading, "Is this open season on young black males?" and "Protect our streets, don't slaughter our children."

Again, it's all about perceptions, fueled not only by this shooting but by a number of other incidents, such as the 1999 rooftop encounter that resulted in the death of burglary suspect Julius Thurman. Last month, Officer Robert Dodson was acquitted of second-degree murder in Thurman's death.

Now the issue of whether Dodson should be hired is raging, with the St. Louis Board of Police Commissioners appearing to walk a reasonable middle ground to this point. But no matter what happens with Dodson, it's pretty much certain that either his supporters or his detractors -- or, more likely, both -- will be livid at the outcome.

Perceptions will keep getting worse.

And that, for the city, is one cold reality.

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