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Drawing national media attention on February 7, 2008, the Kirkwood City Council shooting has caused much despair and division. Three years after the shooting, confusion is still prevalent. However, several groups and individuals are still working toward understanding.
Producer Chris Jeske was one of many Kirkwoodians shocked by this event. He decided to apply for a Szymczak Peacemaking Fellowship from the Marquette University Center for Peacemaking and return home for the summer to continue his study of racism. With the mission to combine the powers of film, discussion, and truth to foster growth and understanding, he interviewed several members of the community still grappling with what happened. The result is Trying to Understand It All: The Kirkwood City Council Shooting.
Through the opinions, stories, and testimonies of those interviewed, the film provides a portrait of the conditions that contributed to the shooting at Kirkwood City Hall and have long contributed to racial tensions in Kirkwood. The film explores distinct topics including the relationship between Kirkwood and the Meacham Park community in light of the annexation and redevelopment of Meacham Park, a look at Cookie Thornton from the perspective of long-time friends, and three powerful strategies for transformation in response to violence and racism.
The film culminates with the story of Cookie Thornton’s funeral, a story powerful enough to provide hope to all people working for racial justice and community transformation.
Explore more about how you can work for individual or community transformation in response to injustice using the strategies proposed at the end of the film:
“Kirkwood’s Journey” in the St. Louis Beacon Magazine (here)
“Kirkwood City Council Shooting” on Wikipedia. Scroll to the bottom of the page for a more comprehensive list of resources (here)
A Brief History of Meacham Park, MO 1892-1989 by Lonnie Speer and Garnet Thies. Available at the Kirkwood Historical Society.