Our region recently recognized the 5th year anniversary of Michael Brown’s killing and the subsequent turmoil that placed the St. Louis region at the epicenter of chaos and disorder.
The sad event of a young African-American male dying at the hands of an under-trained police officer exposed the underbelly of much deeper problems: systemic racism, parasitic governments, corrupt political systems that feed off the poor and a region clearly divided by the haves and have not's.
At the same time, our region was introduced to the new St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger.
Stenger opposed diversity programs, was a brazen and accomplished liar, and was genuinely unconcerned about the affairs of Ferguson. His relationship with then-St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch was akin to Batman and Robin as they took on the African-American community, with Stenger assuming the role of Robin. Stenger made very cosmetic accommodations to appease a few black ministers and politicians, but in reality was at constant war with established St. Louis County African-American leadership.
As the region’s leader, Stenger showed no interest in stepping up and leading. If something did not offer political advantage or his personal enrichment, then it didn’t exist and therefore didn’t matter. However, he found no shortage of connected minions to carry out his evil plots, and for that we all suffered.
So on the five-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s falling victim to a police officer’s bullet, it almost seems preordained that Stenger would be sentenced to four years in prison. He succeeded at greed and shunned the opportunity to help pull our collective communities together. Yet his partners still stand and seem to continue his mission of selling out our region by selling our airport.
Most of Stenger’s corporate, political and other co-conspirators who empowered him have yet to answer for their roles. The political operatives who eagerly fed at the public trough have yet to be called to task. The politicians and ministers who didn’t stand for the people they represent must also make amends.
The same is true of the media that chose to accept and promote Stenger’s lies about Charlie Dooley and did his bidding for years, as well as St. Louis’ corporate community and the region’s Democratic machine. The full tragedy here was not only Stenger’s behavior but his overt embrace by St. Louis media, corporate St. Louis and the Democratic Party – not to mention Better Together.
Unfortunately, little has changed in five years. Our region is long suffering, and there are few indicators that we have learned any lessons. In order to be better, we must take a long look at ourselves. To be relevant, our region had better start looking in the mirror.
Rasheen Aldridge was elected in 2016 as the youngest African-American Democratic committeeman in St. Louis history from the 5th Ward and currently is Democratic nominee for the 78 District state representative seat in the Nov 5 election.