Missouri’s Legislative Black Caucus says bills stemming from Ferguson have not been given a chance for passage, and is criticizing Missouri House leadership for it. The House’s Speaker says the claim is inaccurate.
The Black Caucus said bills related to police practices and racial profiling aren’t getting enough attention in the state House. Vice Chairman Brandon Ellington (D-Kansas City) accused House Speaker John Diehl, Junior, (R-Town and Country) and the Republican majority of stalling that legislation.
“Missouri is sending out a message that we’re racist and we don’t care,” said Ellington. “Missouri is sending out a message that we have law enforcement officers that we know abuse so-called minorities and we’re comfortable with it.”
Diehl released a statement saying he has referred 42 of the 43 Ferguson related bills to committee and many have already received public hearings. Diehl said Ellington’s comments were inaccurate and called them disappointing. Diehl said the merits of those bills will be weighed “based on facts, not emotion.”
“We will not make the men and women in our law enforcement community, or first responders, the scapegoats for the tragic events that occurred in Ferguson last year,” said Diehl.
Ellington said the point in the session at which bills that aren’t moving aren’t likely to pass is nearing.
“We’re calling on the Speaker of the House of Representatives to help us move this legislation, we’re calling on the chair of the committees that have legislation sent to those committees to actually give us fair hearings on those committees, so we can get this legislation passed out, and we’re calling on the House of Representatives to stop sitting on legislation that affects so-called minorities,” said Ellington.
Members of the caucus also want to see more Government officials leave office in Ferguson. Police Chief Thomas Jackson, City Manager John Shaw, and Court Judge Ronald Brockmeyer have all turned in their resignations. State Representative Courtney Curtis (D-Berkeley) represents 55-percent of Ferguson’s residents and said the resignations are a step in the right direction, but more should follow.
“The mayor stepping down would send a big signal that they are truly trying to change,” said Curtis. “Leadership sets the tone and the leadership of Ferguson is not setting the right tone by moving as slow as they are.”
State Representative Tommie Pierson also called on Mayor James Knowles III to step down.
“It’s not enough for all the king’s men to fall and the king doesn’t fall,” said Pierson.