This post was originally published on St. Louis American
By Alvin A. Reid
The Missouri House passed a bill allowing Gov. Mike Parson to strip some prosecutorial power from Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner after debate was cut short.
Black legislators are outraged and say that trying to work with the state’s GOP is not working, and to expect peaceful yet stern retaliation.
State Rep. Kevin Windham from St. Louis County was reading a newspaper article detailing Mississippi’s legislative move that would create a new court in part of Jackson, Miss. Its judges who would be appointed rather than elected. This part of the city is overwhelming Black, and its voters would be disenfranchised.
Windom shared quotes in the article by Democratic Mississippi Rep. Ed Blackmon, “Only in Mississippi would we have a bill like this, where we say solving the problem requires removing the vote from Black people.”
“Only in Mississippi would we have a bill like this, where we say solving the problem requires removing the vote from Black people.”
House Speaker Dean Plocher decided he had heard enough. He ruled Windham out of order, halting his speech. The microphone was cut off.
House Majority Leader Jon Patterson then made a motion to shut off debate on the bill. Other Black Democrats were not allowed to speak, and they were incensed.
The House passed legislation by a 109-35 vote.
“It’s racist to not allow him to speak,” Rep. Marlene Terry of St. Louis County, chair of the Missouri Black Legislative Caucus, told reporters after the debate.
She requested that Black leaders and community activists from throughout the state to come to the Capitol.
“From now on there’s no more peaceful — no more peaceful — it’s going to be actions,” Terry said. “We’re going to let them know that we are here to be heard.”
Before the GOP’s controversial move, Rep. Raychel Proudie of Ferguson said on the House floor “We know we’re outnumbered.”
“We knew how this vote was going to go, but at a minimum, allowing those of us who rarely see a committee hearing, have the opportunity to speak our piece on behalf of the nearly 40,000 people we represent would have been the courteous thing to do,” Proudie said.
The Rev. Darryl Gray, a St. Louis pastor and activist, posted a Facebook message urging people to rally at the state Capitol to stand up “against state control & white suppression.”
Terry reiterated that there will be repercussions.
“Our gloves are off, we will stand on the floor, we will shout out. Everybody behind me has bills that are decent for their community, it’s gonna help children, our schools. They’re taking us backwards. We’re going backwards. And I’m tired of it,” Terry said.