The wounds of Ferguson five years ago are still fresh for many in St. Louis. It was an awakening for our region and an impetus for a national conversation about what we can do to strengthen our communities. While some public officials appeared unwilling to step up and lead, others took big steps to create good public policy.
When he was a state senator, Eric Schmitt was not afraid to lead. He worked closely with me and others in the African-American community to advance much-needed reforms.
Being African American does not justify local municipalities singling out people for extra ticket revenue. Schmitt understood this and worked with our community and the state legislature to pass Senate Bill 5, historic municipal court reform. This law is preventing our citizens from being viewed by local officials as ATMs to fund their local budgets.
It was not an easy fight, but Schmitt had the tenacity to see it through. Now as our state’s attorney general, he is ensuring that SB 5 is fully enforced. Whistleblowers have been coming forward to tell his office when traffic ticket quotas are being prescribed and he’s taking every tip seriously.
After the unrest in Ferguson, SB 5 was one of the victories, and it’s a national model for reform. As we work to restore the trust between law enforcement and our citizens, we must acknowledge the victories while continuing to push for new reforms to improve the lives of our people.
Rev. B.T. Rice