St. Louis: Reflections on Our Violent City After the Death of My Brother-in-law

For years our big urban progressive supporters have said St. Louis isn’t dangerous.  “Oh its just the way they count the numbers” or “they don’t include the county and they include East St.  Louis” . Studies like this are making those arguments harder and harder. 

There has never been any doubt in my mind St. Louis is dangerous.  Over the years I’ve known dozens of people who’ve been killed on these streets and I’m hardly alone. Many in this city have known many more victims than me. Many have been dodging bullets since elementary school. 

This past Saturday my brother-in-law Shelby Polk was shot and killed leaving a bar in Soulard. His father was murdered eight years ago. Shelby, or “Chubb”, as he was known, leaves a widow (my sister Sunni) and 5 children ages 3 to 16 (I’ve asked her if she wants me to raise money for her online; but she was too distraught to even think of that).

Life is short. We’re not promised tomorrow. Everything is in the Divine Decree and man plans; but Allah is the best of planners.  I don’t believe in prolonged mourning.  I believe in learning lessons and actions. 

The greatest issues in our city aren’t the lack of Uber,  bike lanes,  and cocktail parties. The greatest issues for our city are the same as they were 20, 30, 40 and 50 years ago. Racism,  poverty and violence. All three are related.

This city isn’t alone in dealing with these issues;  but this is where we live. We need a regional plan for combating violent-crime that isn’t just about hot-spot policing and greater surveillance.  We need a plan that addresses root causes. A plan that’s bigger than government and bigger than progressive inclinations of throwing money at problems and feeding already failing bureaucracies and NGO’s.  A plan that includes houses of worship engaging with the community, schools,  and families. 

A young person with nothing often feels no fear of death or taking another life. Everyone has failed them in their eyes why should they care about those who don’t care for them? We need to give them something to live for. Allah does not change the condition of a people until they change the conditioning of themselves (Quran).