Republican leadership in Jefferson City proposed an outrageous, anti-democratic amendment to allow the governor to remove St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner from office for nearly any reason. They have also introduced a bill that gives jurisdiction to the Attorney General’s Office to prosecute homicide cases from the city, even though the AG’s office has almost no prosecutorial experience and is not responsible to the voices that now twice have elected Circuit Attorney Gardner. This is an immoral attempt to usurp the will of the voters, and we cannot stay silent.
Republican leadership in Missouri is playing a dangerous political game to distract from the many ways the party has utterly failed the people of Missouri while holding a supermajority. I want to be clear: this move has nothing to do with actually trying to protect public safety in St. Louis.
If these leaders cared about public safety, they would have passed gun-control laws rather than making it easier for people to arm themselves to the hilt; they would have funneled money into providing better housing and schools and job training programs instead of giving the wealthy corporate tax breaks; and they would have improved our healthcare system and implemented strict quarantine rules instead of pretending COVID-19 was some sort of hoax.
There is a laundry list of actions state politicians can take to help people in St. Louis and across Missouri. Removing the twice-elected Black female prosecutor from St. Louis city is not one of them.
The reality is that certain legislative leaders care more about posturing than they do about the health and safety of the residents of Missouri and St. Louis. This is the same leadership, after all, that is currently trying to put more 14-year-old children into adult court. This is the same group that just spent years refusing free money from the federal government to expand Medicaid for the sole purpose of playing politics with health care.
These politicians care about political games, and right now they are using theater to attack a Black female politician and her constituents. We must call this what it is: an outrage.
The Republicans in the legislature should remove these amendments and pass some useful laws instead. The results of the Democratic primary on August 4 show overwhelmingly what the people of St. Louis want. And in a democracy, it is the people’s voice that we must listen to.
Wesley Bell is prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County.