Racism, it seems, remains alive and well in Missouri, and the NAACP is doing something about it.
The Missouri legislature passed a law that makes it difficult for locals to sue a business for race discrimination. Now, the NAACP is issuing a stern warning to people of color who might be planning on visiting Missouri.
“Individuals traveling in the state are advised to travel with extreme CAUTION,” the NAACP warned on its website.
Calling the Missouri bill responsible for this advisory the “Jim Crow Bill,” the organization added that “[r]ace, gender and color based crimes have a long history in Missouri.”
For the first time in its history, the NAACP is issuing a travel warning, CNN reports. The “looming danger” in the state has prompted the organization to make sure that its followers and members are aware of the risks.
In Missouri, the statement added, law enforcement is biased against African Americans, resulting in “an increasing trend that shows African Americans are 75% more likely to be stopped than Caucasians.” But that's not the only problem with racism in the state.
Mentioning incidents involving black St. Louis high school students being attacked with hot glue and the state's heartbreaking history with slavery, the organization believes that minority travelers should be aware that they could be unfairly targeted if they plan to visit the state.
Missouri NAACP State Conference President Rod Chapel Jr. told reporters that the recently-passed bill “does not follow the morals of Missouri.”
“I hate to see Missouri get dragged down deep past the notion of treating people with dignity,” he added
Before Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signed the bill into law, Chapel talked to the governor several times, he told CNN. In one meeting, he even brought several faith leaders to talk to the governor about the bill. Still, Greitens ignored their plea, moving to sign the bill promptly after it was passed by the legislature.
To the NAACP, the advisory was meant to serve as an alert that some people may be judged differently due to the color of their skin. This, Chapel said, may put people in danger.
“People should tell their relatives if they have to travel through the state, they need to be aware," he said. "They should have bail money, you never know.
While this is a first for the NAACP, the ACLU issued two similar travel advisories for Texas this year and Arizona in 2010 after the states passed laws giving law enforcement the freedom to question people's immigration status.
For the NAACP to lift this advisory, Chapel said, changes should be implemented first. One of them should be the repeal of the law signed by Greitens.
But to Chapel, the state must also address both how prosecutors handle hate crimes and the fact that minorities are being unfairly targeted in traffic.
“We need to have some basic ground rules for how human beings treat each other,” Chapel added.
Knowing that the state seems unwilling to address the issues brought up by Chapel and the NAACP as a whole, it's clear that this advisory may not be lifted any time soon.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Flickr user Robert Thivierge