Missouri: NAACP warns go at your own risk
ST. LOUIS, MO – The NAACP issued a travel advisory for the first time the organization history, on the national or state level. They have issued this warning because of, “looming danger,” for minorities traveling to Missouri. Missouri, the last state to be admitted as a slave state, has a long history of racial discrimination, which prompted the unprecedented move.
NAACP’s Missouri travel advisory became the first of its kind due to recent legislation raising the bar on proving that an employer or a housing agency has discriminated against an individual based on their race or gender. Coupled with the new law, the NAACP issued their warning as a result of ongoing racial disparities in traffic enforcement. This is in addition to several incidents cited as examples of harm coming to minority residents and visitors.
For instance, an individual shouted racial slurs at black students attending the University of Missouri. Earlier this year of 28-year-old Tory Sanders, a black man from Tennessee, ran out of gas after he took a wrong turn while traveling in Mississippi County, Missouri. Police arrested Sanders and he eventually died their custody in a southeast Missouri jail, even though he hadn’t been accused of a crime. This type of discrimination based on race has been on the NAACP’s radar for a long time now.
Although the NAACP issued advisory in June, the move is gaining attention across the nation after being recognized at the NAACP’s annual national convention last week. “Individuals traveling in the state are advised to travel with extreme CAUTION,” due to the risk of unnecessary search seizure and potential arrest. “Race, gender and color based crimes have a long history in Missouri.”
Senate Bill 43, or “The Jim Crow Bill,” as it is referred to colloquially, was signed by Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens will make it more difficult to sue for housing or employment discrimination. This new pro- discrimination law takes effect Aug. 28, 2017 and will force individuals to prove that race, gender or religion are “motivating” factors of the discrimination not just “contributing” factor.
“How do you come to Missouri, run out of gas and find yourself dead in a jail cell when you haven’t broken any laws?” asked Rod Chapel, president of the Missouri chapter of the NAACP. “You have violations of civil rights that are happening to people. They’re being pulled over because of their skin color, they’re being beaten up or killed… We are hearing complaints at a rate we haven’t heard before.”
“The advisory is for people to be aware, and warn their families and friends and co-workers of what could happen in Missouri,” Chapel said. “People need to be ready, whether its bringing bail money with them, or letting relatives know they are traveling through the state.”
The NAACP also cited a recent Missouri Attorney General’s Office report showing that black drivers in Missouri were 75 percent more likely to be pulled over than whites. The report also showed that black drivers were more likely to be searched, yet less likely to be found with contraband in those searches. Despite the lack of evidence, black drivers are more likely to be arrested than white drivers across Missouri. Moreover, Missouri reported 100 hate crimes in 2015, putting the state at 16th in the nation—though not all law enforcement agencies participate in the program.
NAACP’s Chapel explained that “the advisory is for people to be aware, and warn their families and friends and co-workers of what could happen in Missouri.”
This is not the first travel advisory of its kind warning the dangers posed on black traveling in the U.S. In 2016, the island nation of Bahamas, which is 91 percent black, issued a travel advisory for the U.S., urging caution when traveling in the U.S. and to extremely careful, especially when interacting with U.S. police. Bahamas warning came soon after fatal shootings of black men by police in Louisiana and Minnesota.
Racial discrimination not only occurs on the highways and by-ways of Missouri. Racial discrimination is prevalent in workplaces. The experienced New York City sexual harassment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group, PLLC have years of experience handling claims of racial discrimination. Together with our Philadelphia sexual harassment attorneys have been awarded six figure settlements on behalf of our clients. If you feel like you have been discriminated against in the workplace, please give our attorneys a call at (800) 807-2209 for your free consultation.
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