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Mollie Freebairn

Jefferson City

Dear Editor:

The key to ending gun violence in Missouri lies with young Americans leading the way. Our nation's sports teams, student athletes, people of every race, color and creed, rising up with the Black Lives Matter movement, which arose in Missouri with the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Marches in St. Louis, hunger strikes at Mizzou, football team and a coach calling for the University's president, with his tolerance of racism, to resign. The responsibility for systemic racism and privilege of the powerful, dominating and exploiting the many, goes all the way back over 400 years. It's time for us to end this long history of brutal poverty and tragic violence!

Americans are outraged at the historic obstruction of justice on the part of our lawmakers to address the widespread systemic social and economic inequities as the human toll continues to rise. Protests in communities across the country, ripped apart by gun violence and financial hardship, have blighted America for generations. Poverty is increasing, with more than 40 percent of people out of work or working multiple dangerous low-wage jobs. The pandemic, the epidemics of homelessness and hunger call for sweeping actions.

Nowhere is systemic racism more glaringly on display than in the hallowed chambers of the Missouri state Capitol. Little has changed since the scenes depicted in the Thomas Hart Benton mural, in the House Lounge. Turning a blind eye to the savage inequities under which cold and hungry children across Missouri live, the only panacea legislators can devise is to focus on further punishing the youngest and most helpless. Only after flooding our streets with more guns. Only after we have driven desperate children to commit senselessly tragic crimes in their poverty-ridden neighborhoods. Inflicting further punishment upon the least of our little ones, starving for healthy food, decent shelter, safe schools and neighborhoods — the basic necessities of life.

For lasting peace and prosperity, let us put the longest-suffering among us at the top of our list of priorities until the wrongs we have committed against them have been made whole. It is time to mobilize urgent — and lasting — health, economic, and educational assistance, in collaboration with urban and rural communities across Missouri, crying out for liberty, justice, and a better life — for all!

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