A Letter From Missy Kelley, President And CEO Of Downtown STL, Inc.
Missy Kelley, President and CEO of Downtown STL, Inc., shares her thoughts about the current moment in St. Louis.
Downtown STL – President’s Letter
St. Louis is at the center of change. The manifestation of decades of the racial and economic divide are playing out across the country, and St. Louis is at the heart of it.
All day, I have been answering questions from the media about the economic impact of canceled concerts, property damage and national headlines highlighting violence in St. Louis. The impact is both immediate and long-term, and you can surf any of your favorite news sources today to get multiple perspectives on the losses.
What is more difficult to calculate, and likely much costlier, is the economic impact of inequity. The cycle of poverty and systemic racism yields an entire group of people who are not meeting their potential. Successfully addressing these complex issues will benefit individuals, families, and our local economy.
The civil disobedience that has followed the release of the Stockley verdict has the potential to inspire change and position St. Louis as a national leader in tackling the racial divide, and specifically, the mistrust, shared by many, in our justice system. Civil disobedience was an effective strategy in the Civil Rights movement. As I watched thousands gather at Police Headquarters yesterday and City Hall this morning, I was encouraged by the diversity of the demonstrators. White people are stepping up and owning this problem, and I dare say, that is the only way change will be realized.
Where civil disobedience can be a catalyst for change and position us as progressives in addressing this national crisis, violent protests and riots in a city at the top of the “Most Dangerous” list, gives businesses, tourists and conventions another reason to pass us by.
These issues didn’t begin in St. Louis in 2014 with the events in Ferguson, but Ferguson did mark the beginning of a movement. Three years later, we find ourselves again capturing national headlines over the violent reaction to the legal outcome of a police shooting. If you’re sitting in Des Moines or Seattle, it may appear that St. Louis has made no progress since Ferguson.
There has been a lot of hard work, and yes, progress since the Ferguson Commission published their report. But, it’s not enough. We have a long way to go, and that is what is in our face today as we clean up the broken glass, paint pretty pictures on boarded up windows, and shake our collective head in disbelief that we are here again.
Many of you have participated in the peaceful demonstrations. For those of you who want to do something else, please consider donating to Forward Through Ferguson. If you are interested in better understanding the issues that underlie our current situation, consider creating a Catalyst Circle, or just read the materials on your own.
St. Louis is at the center of change. While authorities work tirelessly to address the criminals who are stealing the headlines, the rest of us need to step up and make sure the right message about St. Louis is the lasting message. This is our moment. The world is watching.
President & CEO
Downtown STL, Inc.
Photo courtesy of the Downtown STL, Inc. Facebook page.