[Criminal Justice\Racial Policing]
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner: “This is about the will of the people being silenced by a concerted effort to stop reform in the city of St. Louis, and this has to be addressed.”
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, the first Black person to achieve that post, is so fed-up with what she sees as an orchestrated attempt by racist “entrenched interests” to oust her from her position that she has filed a lawsuit against several city agencies, and officials–including the city’s police union.
Gardner says, the “entrenched interests in St. Louis” are doing everything to try to stop her from tackling the historic injustices that have been standard practice in the city. She says there has been “a broad campaign of collusive conduct” against her and that the police union and others “have mobilized to thwart these efforts.”
She has even had her life threatened.
Among those who she has named in her lawsuit are: the city of St. Louis, the St. Louis Police Officers Association, its business manager, Jeff Roorda, and Gerard Carmody, a special prosecutor.
Gardner in a statement explained why she feels she is being targeted by city officials.
“As a reformer and Black woman, I represent a clear threat to the police union and political establishment that are determined to preserve the status quo in St. Louis — a status quo that benefits the few in power at the expense of the many,” Gardner said. “This lawsuit is a signal that the voice and will of the people of St. Louis, who have fought tirelessly to change a broken criminal justice system, will not be stifled.”
In an Associated Press interview, Gardner said, “This is about the will of the people being silenced by a concerted effort to stop reform in the city of St. Louis, and this has to be addressed. This is saying, No more are we going to let the powerful few who want to hold onto the status quo prevent an elected prosecutor from doing her job.”
In her lawsuit, Gardner also points to the revelation of alleged racist social media posts by police officers.
In one, a former division officer is said to have “posted a photograph on Facebook of an African-American police officer standing with two African-American demonstrators, calling the officer ‘Captain ‘Hug a Thug’ and a disgrace to the uniform.” In a Facebook entry, a Missouri officer is said to have posted an offensive statement that “offered to sell a t-shirt emblazoned with the words, ‘Black Lives Splatter, because Blue lives matter.”
The lawsuit also accuses the Saint Louis Police Officers Association of going “out of its way to support white officers accused of perpetrating acts of violence and excessive force against African-American citizens.” Her suit also says there have been civil rights violations and violations of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871.
The St. Louis Police Officers’ Association Fraternal Order of Police released a statement claiming that the lawsuit was the “last act of a desperate woman” and that it was “frivolous and without merit.”
They also made this outlandish claim: “This is a prosecutor who has declared war on crime victims and the police officers sworn to protect them. She’s turned murderers and other violent criminals loose to prey on St. Louis’s most vulnerable citizens and has time and time again, falsely accused police of wrongdoing. The streets of this city have become ‘the Killing Fields’ as the direct result of Gardner’s actions and inaction.”
The City of St. Louis also denied Gardner’s allegations saying, “The City Of St. Louis vehemently denies what it considers to be meritless allegations levied against it by Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner. The City fully expects to be vindicated once this case is adjudicated in a court of law.”
However, Gardner seems undeterred by the denials of the officials in St. Louis; and is being roundly applauded and supported in her lawsuit by the African-American constituency who voted for her. In her suit, she also cites St. Louis’ “long history of racial inequality and prejudice in its criminal justice system generally, and within its police force particularly.”