A clip from protest footage in Mike Cierpiot's campaign ad was shot in Ferguson in 2014, not St. Louis this year.
Way over on the other side of the state, a Kansas City-area state rep running for a vacant seat in the Missouri Senate has trotted out a campaign ad that blatantly attempts to exploit the recent St. Louis protests. The ad, titled "Safer Missouri," claims the unrest has made Missouri "a national disgrace."
The commercial, which backs the campaign of Jackson County Republican Mike Cierpiot, flashes immediately from Cierpiot introducing himself to images of riot cops — and protesters tipping over a police vehicle.
Only problem: The images aren't from the recent protests sparked by the acquittal of ex-St. Louis cop Jason Stockley — in fact, the footage is nearly three years old, shot on the night St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced that a grand jury had decided not to indict Darren Wilson for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. The announcement set off intense protests and, yes, rioting and burning in the north county suburb.
Oddly, for a candidate making the protests Exhibit A, Cierpiot doesn't return to them after his little trip back to 2014. Instead, the ad moves to Cierpiot promising to give law enforcement "the tools they need to keep our community safe" and to tackle the state's heroin and opioid epidemic.
And as far as Missouri being a "national disgrace" — in reality, the protests over the Stockley decision have been largely peaceful. True, the aftermath of an entirely peaceful demonstration on the Delmar Loop left dozens of business with smashed windows, but there's been nothing in the past month of protests resembling the incidents of looting and arson in Ferguson. Heck, even when St. Louis interim police chief Lawrence O'Toole was claiming — without statistical evidence — that the Stockley protests created an "influx in crime," he still bragged about the difference between Ferguson and St. Louis's overwhelmingly peaceful protests in 2017.
Cierpiot is hardly the worst offender in the protest exploitation Olympics. That title belongs to Missouri Governor Eric Greitens — the "outsider" politician has repeatedly blasted his predecessor's response to the Ferguson protests on the campaign trail. Now he's claiming that he single-handedly stood between citizens and another Ferguson — and he seems entirely willing to use that argument to propel himself to higher office.
As for Cierpiot, he appears to be good position to win his race for the state Senate. He's out-raised his competitors and is receiving gobs of money from a conservative political action committees, reports the Kansas City Star. And hey, it's not like he needs votes from St. Louis. Might as well just make stuff up.
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com