The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) issued a travel advisory Wednesday for the state of Missouri. The advisory comes in reaction to a new state law that makes it harder to prove discrimination in lawsuits, and to troubling statistics about how much more often black drivers get pulled over compared to white drivers in Missouri.
“We felt like we had no other recourse but to warn people,” Missouri NAACP President Rod Chapel told International Business Times in a phone interview Friday. “[The Missouri Congress] was unwilling to listen or change their position… What else could we do?”
This is the first time the NAACP has issued such a warning. “The NAACP Travel Advisory for the state of Missouri, effective through Aug. 28, 2017, calls for African American travelers, visitors and Missourians to pay special attention and exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the state given the series of questionable, race-based incidents occurring statewide recently,” said the NAACP in a statement about the travel advisory.
The state bill, SB 43, was signed into law June 30 by Republican Gov. Eric Greitens. The law requires people suing for housing or employment discrimination to prove race was the determining factor for the discrimination — not just a contributing factor.
This makes it harder to win discrimination suits, and Chapel called the law a new “Jim Crow Bill.”
The bill also sets caps for amount a company or organization will be forced to pay for discrimination lawsuits, and it prohibits suing individuals such as a supervisor at a place of employment.
The NAACP hopes that the warning will draw attention to the bill nationally, but also to a troubling statistic cited in the warning.
A June report issued by Attorney General Josh Hawley’s office found that black drivers in Missouri were 75 percent more likely to be pulled over than white drivers.
“As we look at the statistics for black drivers being pulled over … it’s crazy,” Lecia Brooks, Outreach Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told IBT. “They’re trying to save lives and bring attention [to the issues] … [It] encourages other states to pay attention.”
Hawley said that all people should feel welcome in Missouri.
“There is no place for racial discrimination in Missouri,” said Hawley in a statement. “Every law-abiding citizen, no matter their…