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Screengrab: Pixabay / skeeze

The Facts

  • The St. Louis County NAACP on Thursday suggested that the national NAACP should rescind its travel advisory for African Americans living in or traveling to Missouri or issue advisories to the 38 states with similar laws.
  • In the press release, the St. Louis NAACP said:

“The people hurt by the travel advisory are the members of our NAACP community who work across our state in hospitality industry jobs and who have played no role in this legislation. We suggest that if the NAACP does not rescind their advisory immediately, then they should add it to the other 38 states, which all already have this standard for monitoring discrimination in place.”

  • The St. Louis NAACP said 38 other states already have laws in place like SB 43, the law that prompted the NAACP to issue the travel advisory.
    • Signed on 30 June, SB 43 requires proof that, during a moment of discrimination, a “protected classification” like race actually caused the alleged discriminatory action.
    • SB 43 applies only to “employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, or places of public accommodations.”
    • According to the advisory, SB 43 “hearkens back to the Jim Crow-era.”
  • On 2 August, the NAACP issued a travel advisory for African Americans in Missouri, effective through August 28.
    • The advisory calls for African Americans to “pay special attention and exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the state given the series of questionable, race-based incidents occurring statewide recently.”
  • NAACP CEO and interim president Derrick Johnson said, “We share the alarm and concern that black individuals enjoying the highways, roads and points of interest there may not be safe, and the national office will also be closely monitoring the progress of Governor Greitien’s review of Bill SB 43.”
  • This is the first NAACP travel warning issued for a state in the United States.

The Context

  • The travel advisory for African Americans in Missouri was first issued on 7 June by the Missouri branch of the NAACP. Specifically, the advisory called attention to:
    • “Tory Sanford who recently died in a jail cell but was never arrested after running out of gas when he traveled into the state accidentally.”
    • “Racist attacks on University of Missouri students while on the states’ campuses – as the University of Missouri System spoke in favor of Romine’s Jim Crow Bill.”
    • “Missouri’s legislature Representative Rick Bratton, [who] argued that homosexuals are not human beings according to his faith.”
    • “Black high school students in St. Louis [who] have been attacked with hot glue while denigrated racially.”
    • “Two internationally born men gunned down outside in Kansas City after their killer thought them to be Muslim.”
    • “Public threats of shooting ‘Blacks’ that terrorized University of Missouri students and members of the public.”
  • According to the 2016 Vehicle Stops Report released by the Missouri Attorney General, blacks in Missouri were 75% more likely to be stopped and searched by law enforcement than whites.
Missouri naacp travel advisory traffic stops

Source: Missouri Attorney General’s Office

  • SB 43 replaces the Missouri Human Rights Act (MHRA), which classified a discriminatory action as unlawful if “a protected classification is a contributing factor in the decision to discriminate,” not the decisive factor, as SB 43 requires.

Responses

  • An editorial in the Kansas City Star addresses the travel advisory and criticizes SB 43, saying it makes discrimination near impossible to prove. The editorial also accuses SB 43 of worsening racial relations in a state where tension is already high. The editorial board wrote:

“Our own advisory is that while most Missourians welcome all travelers to our state, our law enforcement officials and lawmakers do need to think about why we’re seen in such a negative light. And it’s up to the rest of us to make sure they lose their jobs if they don’t.”

  • An article in RedState criticized the NAACP’s travel warning.

“Racism and racial disparities in police interactions should never be ignored, but the group’s move to issue an unprecedented travel advisory seems more like political vengeance against Missouri’s tort reform than actual fear… For 108 years the NAACP has waded through the most violent actions of the state against black Americans and never uttered a word about traveling.”

Elizabeth Rhodes contributed to this report.

The Whim News Team
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The Whim News Desk

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