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CONTACT: Jennifer Farmer, 202.306.0136,

September 16, 2017  


 Faith Leaders Demand End to Immoral Justice System

WASHINGTON – Faith leaders with PICO National Network, the largest network of congregations and faith-based groups in the nation, today demanded a federal investigation into the acquittal of a white police officer, Jason Stockley, who fatally shot 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. Despite officer Stockley’s promise that “we’re killing this mother******,” and Stockley’s DNA on a gun that prosecutors allege was planted in the victim’s car, a St. Louis judge, let Stockley walk free.

“Missouri is the “show me state,’” said the Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould, executive director of Missouri Faith Voices. “From the Dred Scott case in 1857 to the non-indictment of Darren Wilson in the murder of Mike Brown, and now, the acquittal of officer Jason Stockley in the murder of Antony Lamar Smith, the judicial system continues to show us that Black lives don’t matter in this state. The role of faith leaders in this moment is to dismantle an immoral system, act prophetically and call for justice until it, the words of the prophet Amos, “rolls like a river.””

“My religion clearly states that “thou shalt not kill,” said the Rev. Michael McBride, director of urban strategies for PICO National Network, and campaign director for LIVE FREE, a nationwide initiative to curb gun violence and mass incarceration. “There is no justification for the court’s failure to hold Stockley accountable for killing Smith. The court essentially set case law that police can carry out extrajudicial killings for people of color and persons suspected of being drug dealers. With each acquittal, hopes for a justice system that recognizes the value of Black lives diminishes.”

“The overwhelming police presence that we see in St. Louis today to supposedly quell citizens, citizens who have seen too many rogue cops walk free after killing Black men, should have been utilized to keep the community safe from Stockley, who said he was going to kill Smith and then fulfilled that promise.” 


PICO National Network is the largest grassroots, faith-based organizing network in the United States. PICO works with 1,000 religious congregations in more than 200 cities and towns through its 45 local and state federations. PICO and its federations are non-partisan and do not endorse or support candidates for office. PICO urges people of faith to consult their faith traditions for guidance on specific policies and legislation. Learn more at