The organization known as 28 to Life that operates in St. Louis, Mo. And Police Officers from the third district met up on the courts of Marquette Park Recreation Center for a basketball game where officers could play against individuals that they would probably never meet unless it was on the job.
The interaction was good as it gave both players and spectators a chance to see each other in a different light but also a deeper underlying event was happening. Healing from old wounds was taking place.
Bruce Franks Jr. leads the effort of 28 to Life and honored three people who died during confrontations with Police Officers as their families were on hand at the event to receive the recognition of their family members who died. He spoke of VonDerrit Myers Jr., 18, Cary Ball Jr., 25, and Michael Brown Jr., 18..
Franks also paid honor to three Police officers who were killed on duty and offered recognition of Police who have paid the ultimate sacrifice while Officers lined the walls in attendance. He honored Officers Nicholas Sloan, 24, Norvelle Brown, 22, and Daryl Hall, 34. Officers from the St. Louis Police Department received the recognition for their fallen brother officers.
The game itself was pretty close until the very end according to The St. Louis American. While the officers do in fact play regularly and have teams with an impressive record of 13-3 they lost to the impromptu team of 28 to Life on March 26.
Yet the statements that were given to reporters prove that there were quite a few winners when it came to changing attitudes about people in general.
Franks had stated that ‘most of the groups mentors and youth have had numerous negative encounters with police’ yet after the event “When they were able to meet officers like Sgt. Ross, they didn’t realize that not all officers are alike,” Franks said. “You find those officers that you can link with and bridge the gap.”
VonDerrit Myers Sr. who was in attendance and received recognition for his son who had died in a police confrontation said it was personally comforting for him to attend the event. “We’re afraid for our children to walk up and down the street – not just because of regular people but police officers as well,” Myers said. “This helps show the community that there are some good officers.” He continued: “It’s important to have something like this to show that everyone is human, Police are human, and this allows them to see that we are human too.”
Sgt. Todd Ross, of the Third Police District said it’s the same on the reverse side. “It lets officers know that everyone’s not criminals and up to no good,” he said. “I grew up on the South side, so I know both sides. It’s nothing but a beautiful thing going on here.” The Sgt. has been active with 28 To Life since it’s inception however this is their first basketball game. When asked about the game itself and his team’s loss Sgt. Ross stated: “We definitely don’t like to lose, we are missing a few key players, but trust me they will be here next time.”