St. Louis’ first Black female top prosecutor says there’s a “racist conspiracy” against her, and she’s suing the city and the city’s police union over it.
“This isn’t about Kim Gardner,” she told ABC News’ Nightline in a recent interview. “This is about certain individuals within these organizations that have gone beyond unprecedented amounts of coordination to stop the will of the people. I had no choice but to act for the will of the people because they want me to fight for what’s right.”
“It’s about the people, and that’s why we have to fight,” Gardner added, ABC News reports. “Enough is enough.”
The Atlanta Black Star reports, Gardner’s complaint, filed in the Eastern District of Missouri, cites the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, accusing city officials of violating the law meant to combat white supremacist organizations. Her suit marks the first time a local elected prosecutor has taken the police union to court over race-based civil rights violations.
According to ABC News, Gardner has made criminal justice reform a top priority. She put a diversion program in place for non-violent offenders struggling with drug addiction, and her office no longer prosecutes low-level marijuana crimes.
The Atlanta Black Star reports that Gardner’s lawsuit accuses the city’s police union of going out of its way “to support white officers accused of perpetrating acts of violence and excessive force against African American citizens.”
“The Ku Klux Klan Act was adopted to address precisely this scenario — a racially motivated conspiracy to deny the civil rights of racial minorities by obstructing a government official’s efforts to ensure equal justice under law for all,” it continues, the Atlanta Black Star reports.
Gardner’s lawsuit also alleges several civil rights violations on the part of the city and St. Louis Police Officers Association leadership, the Atlanta Black Star reports.
The lawsuit also cites a report published by a watchdog group last year that included dozens of racist, violent social media posts by city officers. One from 2018 read, “If the Confederate flag is racist, then so is Black History Month,” the Atlanta Black Star reports.
Additionally, Gardner’s lawsuit mentions police union business manager Jeff Roorda, who supported Darren Wilson, the white officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014, the Atlanta Black Star reports.
“The union believes this is a grand distraction meant to misdirect the attention that Gardner’s deposition is sure to generate,” the group said in a statement in response to the lawsuit, the Atlanta Black Star reports. The union called the lawsuit “frivolous and without merit.”
The Atlanta Black Star also reports that the St. Louis Police Officers Association has responded by renewing calls for Gardner to resign, saying, she needs “to be removed from office through any means available.”
ABC News reports that Roorda, whom Gardner described as a "divisive" individual, held a news conference to refute the prosecutor's allegations.
"Gardner essentially claims that her critics have conspired together to prevent her from doing her job as a prosecutor. Nothing could be further from the truth," Roorda said, ABC News reports. "My police officers and I want her to do her job.
"We desperately want her to stand up for innocent victims, put dangerous criminals behind bars and respect the rule of law,” Roorda continued, ABC News reports. “She has not done her job, and this lawsuit demonstrates that she has no intention of doing her job, of doing the important work of defending the most vulnerable citizens in America's deadliest city."
Photo: Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Tribune News Service via Getty Images