Dear Washington University students

Dear Washington University students—

It’s long past time for you to be in the streets. Every single last one of you.

Not just our black students who are directly affected by the racial violence and systematic oppression our country promotes. Not just our Hispanic students who see Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals’ removal directly affecting them or people who share their identity. Not just our Jewish students who know Neo-Nazis have been emboldened by our country’s president.

We know that some of you have been there and we appreciate you and support you. Please continue to protest; please continue to advocate for change; please continue to fight for these streets to be your own.

But also, now is the time for everyone else, and we mean absolutely every one of you, to stand up for what is right and what is needed.

Jason Stockley murdered—yes, murdered, despite what one judge may say—Anthony Lamar Smith six years ago.

Jason Stockley murdered—yes, murdered, despite what misguided All Lives Matter vocalists may say—Anthony Lamar Smith three years before Michael Brown’s death.

Jason Stockley murdered a man named Anthony Lamar Smith, and he will not serve a single hour of jail time.

Police brutality is a systemic issue perpetuating racial violence in our country, and it’s not a new issue. Police brutality did not suddenly begin with the shooting of Michael Brown. Police brutality will not suddenly disappear on its own. Activism and direct action are needed to rectify our country’s deep-seated propensity for racial violence.

For the past three years, St. Louis has been the focal point of these actions with the national debate shining a light on the city’s problems with segregation, income disparity and an outsized percentage of violent crime. None of these issues are the fault of the people living the repercussions.

Dear Washington University students: St. Louis is your city.

St. Louis is not a city that you come to enjoy for four years, taking and taking and taking, only to fly back to a coast with a nice job in hand and no memory of the place you once were.

St. Louis is your city. St. Louis is your home. Your city and your home are your responsibility, and, so far, you have failed both.

St. Louis is hurting. Many people in this city have lost faith in its civic institutions, in those designated to protect them, in the support of their neighbors.

As students, we are not passersby. We are not wayward wanders here to observe but not from too close, to keep our hands and feet inside the bubble at all times.

We are neighbors. We are a community that can support our city, that can support our classmates, that can revolt against those who have hurt them both.

Many of us have an implicit privilege that makes us uncomfortable with protest. Ignore it. Many of us have means and resources to assist those already in the streets without. Use them. Many of us have a voice—at Wash. U., at our previous homes, on social media and in our lawmakers’ ears—to change the way things are. Shout it. Shout it loud, and keep shouting until things change.

Dear Washington University students: Your continued silence on our nation’s state of emergency is violence. Your continued inaction against our nation’s systemic oppression is violence. The state of our nation will not change without protest. That change will be slow, yes, but it will be change.

The time is long past due for you to be in the streets—not just on Facebook—but that doesn’t mean the time has passed. St. Louis is your city, too—start acting like it.

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