Statement from Circuit Attorney Jennifer M. Joyce:
Freedom of expression and assembly are as important to our free society as liberty, due process and every other fundamental right afforded in our great country. I respect those wishing to peaceably exercise their rights as citizens.
As I have stated previously, my actions in this office have not, and never will be guided by public pressure, fear or favor. I understand, however, that as an elected official, my decisions will not satisfy everyone. I welcome conversation and constructive dialogue with the community, and I believe it's essential to building confidence in the criminal justice system. That's why my staff and I attend hundreds of neighborhood meetings each year, meet with dozens of community groups, personally return phone calls and respond to questions on social media.
Since I announced our decision in the VonDerrit Myers case, I have extended multiple invitations to the Myers family through their attorney to meet with them. My invitations have gone unanswered.
The doors remain open to anyone who wants to peacefully discuss their concerns. I have met with the NAACP, several city aldermen, state representatives, the Department of Justice and community leaders since the release of the 51-page report to the community. Most have not expressed concern over the Myers case.
I have also met with some activists and protestors regarding this decision and those conversations have been very productive.
Prior to Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment’s (MORE) announcement to protest today, I had not been contacted by them to meet with me. As I will be attending a previously scheduled event today, we reached out to them yesterday, and they have accepted our invitation to meet next week.
While I am fully aware of concerns over various police policies, procedures and tactics used with protestors, as Circuit Attorney, my ability to hold officers accountable for their actions is specific and narrow. I have no authority over the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the tactics they utilize when dealing with protestors. Those questions and comments should be directed to Chief Dotson. I know he, too, has met with dozens of community groups and welcomes constructive dialogue.
If anyone has information that an officer has violated Missouri law, I encourage them to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Chief of Police or my office. Should evidence arise that a police officer has violated the law, and I can prove it in a court of law beyond a reasonable doubt, I will do so. Occupation does not discern justice in this jurisdiction.
Our community has suffered a great deal of heartbreak. I want to work toward healing, hope and understanding. We achieve this only through honest and productive dialogue, and I applaud all those working toward that goal. Today, and every day, I pray for peace in our great city.