Republican Missouri legislators

Sen. Nick Shroer, R-O’Fallon, takes the oath of office alongside his daughters on Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023, during the first day of the legislative session at the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City. Senators Travis Fitzwater, R-Calloway County, Karla May, D-St. Louis, and Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, are to Shroer's right.

The Missouri legislative session is drawing to a close. Those of us who were suited up as the People’s Warriors are resigned to waiting until the end. When the smoke clears, we can start counting our legislative casualties and assess the loss of political ground.

In red states (like Missouri) where the Republicans dominate the House, the Senate and the office which signs the laws, we must bear witness to the passage of laws that consolidate the power and authority of backward conservatives.

The people’s warriors have been fighting for affordable housing, food security and accessible healthcare. These are basic human rights. We’ve also fought for criminal justice reforms and for civil liberties, specifically the right to petition our government and the right to peaceful assembly.

It is the attack on civil liberties that have been most aggressive and vicious. That’s because these are directly linked to our ability to fight for the other reforms.

Jamala Rogers

Jamala Rogers

The right-wing agenda to put a chill on legitimate, nonviolent protests has been underway for several years. The main goal is to curtail the growing number of protests against the repressive conditions that racial capitalism has created yet expect us to suffer in silence.

Since 2015, nearly 300 anti-protest bills have been introduced in almost every state. That number increased with the protests of George Floyd’s murder by police in 2020. In Missouri, we have beat back the most punitive of these laws, but the legislative session is not over. 

Florida’s HB1 has already had a chilling impact on movement protests while shielding vigilantes and counter-protestors against liability when they act recklessly. Republican governors will abuse their authority to further the GOP agenda. Georgia’s Gov. Brian Kemp declared a state of emergency against “unlawful assemblage.”  These declarations can trigger the deployment of the National Guard against citizens.

Perhaps the most disturbing act of collaboration between reactionary forces and the government came together with the recent filing of domestic terrorism charges against 42 Stop Cop City protestors in Atlanta. Protestors are righteously fighting against the building of a massive 85-acre police training facility at the cost of $90 million. Sadly, environmental activist Manuel Esteban Paez Terá was killed during the protests.

We can expect these coordinated attacks on our right to organize, to speak out and to assemble in the name of justice and democracy to escalate. To lose any ground in this fight now will be a devastating step backward as we face more authoritarian types of laws, tactics and governance in the future.

We who believe in freedom and democracy must galvanize all sectors of our movements from attorneys to funders. This is our reality and only we can change it by intensifying a united, coordinated campaign against the tyrannical acts designed to criminalize and de-legitimize the resistance by citizens fighting for transformative change in the U.S.

As Dr. Martin Luther King reminds us, “there comes a time when silence is betrayal.” I think it’s that time.

Jamala Rogers is a columnist for The St. Louis American and one of the founding members of the Organization for Black Struggle based in St. Louis.

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.