From the editors: Our picks for stories of the year
Like many of you, the St. Louis Public Radio newsroom has been through a tumultuous year.
From the intense community reaction to the policies of President Donald Trump, to the excitement over a solar eclipse and expressions of outrage following a judge’s decision to acquit a white, former St. Louis police officer in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith — the year brought a wealth of news.
Here's what our editors considered among the year's most notable stories:
St. Louisans gathered throughout the region to protest President Donald J. Trump's executive order barring citizens of seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the United States.
An April 30 shooting on Cherokee Street left residents shaken. The shooting raised underlying tensions as community members tried to sort out racial, economic and cultural frustrations in one of St. Louis’s popular neighborhoods.
Darlene Green first became St. Louis’ comptroller in 1995, making her the first most politically powerful African-American woman in the region. Twenty two years and seven elections later, she’s still in office, and has lots of company, putting St. Louis on the leading edge of a national trend. Seven other black women from the area hold major offices, including St. Louis circuit attorney, two Missouri Senate seats and two St. Louis County Council seats. That’s in addition to a half-dozen on the St. Louis Board of Aldermen or in the state House.
Transgender students in the St. Louis region find it hard to find a bathrooms. According to a review by St. Louis Public Radio, 35 of the 41 public school districts and charter schools in St. Louis and St. Louis County have no official procedures for working with transgender students. Instead, they respond to requests as they come.
The 2014 death of Michael Brown, a black, unarmed 18-year-old, at the hands of a white police officer unleashed anger and activism throughout the St. Louis area. Some who marched in the streets of Ferguson after August 9 of that year remain committed to changing hearts, minds and laws throughout St. Louis and Missouri, despite setbacks at the ballot box and within legislative chambers. But activists also concede that policy alone won't bring St. Louis together: It'll require people of all stripes acknowledging the realities of a racially divided region and state.
Every year, as many as 600 people in the St. Louis region survive an assault with a firearm. Those close calls are not only emotionally and financially draining, but leave many victims with a lifelong disability.
While total solar eclipses have been seen around the world a few times in the last decade, it’s pretty rare for one to be visible over large, populated areas, such as the United States. In August, scientists took advantage of the opportunity to run experiments that address questions about Earth and the sun that only total solar eclipses can help answer.
Jail inmates at the St. Louis County Justice Center in Clayton stay for an average of 59 days before their cases are tried or dismissed. But 10 miles away, at the Medium Security Institution in the city of St. Louis, the typical prisoner waits for eight months. Inmates and their families say more must be done to improve conditions in the aging facility. But city officials say there isn’t much more they can do.
Many of the nearly 700,000 young immigrants who have temporary protection from deportation under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program are living in fear.. The Obama administration created the DACA policy in 2012 for children whose parents brought them to the United States without authorization. It allowed them to obtain temporary work permits, driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers. But that changed on Sept. 5, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the Trump administration's decision to rescind DACA.
Jails across the country are required to provide medical care to prisoners who are serving a sentence or waiting on a trial. But a growing number of former inmates in jails run by the city of St. Louis claim they were denied their medication while incarcerated. In some cases, families say, inadequate medical care has led to death. Six prisoners in jails run by the city of St. Louis died in 2016 and the first two months of 2017, according to the city’s records. Another six died last year in the custody of St. Louis County.
Follow David on Twitter: @dpcazares