One of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) strongest critics in the months since Michael Brown, Junior, was killed, has positive things to say about his State of the State Address this week.
State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-University City) just two weeks ago was calling for Nixon to resign, asserting a disconnection between him and Missouri’s black community. She called it an attempt to set the tone for the session.
After Nixon’s annual attempt to set that tone in his State of the State, Chappelle-Nadal said she thought he spent, “more time on trucks and cars being built in Missouri than Ferguson,” but added, “I think that the amount of time he dealt with Ferguson was appropriate.”
“I was very happy to hear about him wanting, and the legislature, wanting to change some of the definitions that are in statute right now dealing with deadly force. That is a big deal for my community,” said Chappelle-Nadal.
She said she will continue to criticize the response to Ferguson where she feels it is necessary.
“I am still going to call out every single thing that happens wrong because there were so many injuries.”
“What we did not hear … unfortunately was the discussion of having a special prosecuting attorney in a case where there is a police officer who kills a person who is unarmed,” the senator said. “The other thing that was missing from the conversation was cultural competency of law enforcement as well as a complete disconnect of what the responsibilities are of law enforcement in terms of upholding the Constitution, as well as young people having a proper education to also know what our laws are and benefit from the laws that we have.”
She wants the response to Ferguson to include a stronger mental health response for those who witness events like the Michael Brown shooting, or the response to demonstrators that she experienced in the days that followed. She also wants a whistleblower protection program for law enforcement officers that want to speak up about colleagues who, “target certain individuals because of where they live or what they look like,” and reiterates her observation that while she supports municipal court reform, the need for it “is not the reason why Michael Brown was killed. There are a lot of people who want to purport that.”
“If you look at any school shooting, whether a student was in a classroom where the shooting took place or not, you would have counselors and psychiatrists and psychologists on site immediately,” said Chappelle-Nadal. “You had a young man laying on the ground with his blood for four-and-a-half hours where people were just looking at his body and there were no counselors.”
She said Nixon is working with the legislature on one of the top education issues in the state: changing Missouri’s student transfer law. “His office has been absolutely wonderful in terms of getting an education bill passed this year, and I think the compromises that we’re making are really going to give students options, which is what we wanted in the first place.”
Chappelle-Nadal called other parts of Nixon’s speech “progressive.”
“I never anticipated that he would talk publicly about toll roads and the gas tax, and I think that was courageous of him to do that because it is a discussion that we need to have as Missourians,” said Chappelle-Nadal. “I am overjoyed that the Governor is going to Cuba. My family background, half my family comes from Puerto Rico, and we look at Cuba as our distant cousins, and just to open up any type of business in Cuba would be wonderful.”