ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis NAACP, faith groups and civil justice groups on Thursday called for the firing of the controversial business manager of the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association, Jeff Roorda, over his statement that the city’s prosecutor should be removed “by force or by choice.”
In a letter to the union, the groups say Roorda’s language about St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner “incites violence and is dangerous to our communities,” and is bullying and threatening. Firing Roorda would “send a clear message that this type of conduct — by Roorda or anyone in the police union — will not be tolerated,” the letter says.
They also say it’s part of a history of “unacceptable and unwarranted provocations” toward Gardner and other city officials and was impeding Gardner’s “ability to effectively prosecute serious cases as well as undermin(ing) public safety.
The letter’s signatories, the NAACP, Metropolitan Congregations United, Organization for Black Struggle, MacArthur Justice Center in St. Louis, Missouri Faith Voices, Action St. Louis, the Council on American-Islam Relations in Missouri, and the United African People’s Organisation, also say Mayor Lyda Krewson should renounce Roorda’s behavior.
Roorda’s comments came during a radio interview earlier this month on the Marc Cox Morning Show, during which Roorda and other union officials called for Gardner’s resignation over a tweet. In that one-word tweet, “Exactly,” Gardner appeared to support a tweet by St. Louis Alderman Megan Green, who said a deadly encounter in which drug suspect Cortez Shepherd was fatally shot by city police never should have happened.
Roorda said he had not yet seen the letter.
The union, in a statement, said Roorda’s use of the word “force” referred to “the loss of her law license and/or by indictment, both of which are warranted based on her conduct in office. Claiming this call for her ouster is inciting violence is laughable.” The union also reiterated its call for Gardner’s removal.
Roorda has frequently clashed with Gardner since her election. The letter also says that he pushed an African American woman during a 2015 meeting to discuss a civilian review board while going “after an alderman,” called mayoral candidate Tishaura Jones “lazy” and a “race-baiter” in 2017 and photoshopped Gardner onto a picture of the Grinch in a union newsletter.
Some of the same officials who signed the letter calling for Roorda’s firing were at a rally last week seeking the ouster of St. Louis City Counselor Julian Bush. They claim Bush is failing to support and represent Gardner in a dispute over who should pay the legal bills for issues related to a grand jury probe of a former private investigator hired by Gardner in the criminal case against then-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens last year.