ST. LOUIS — A day after Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner filed a federal lawsuit alleging a racist conspiracy against her, prosecutors from several states converged here to show support for the St. Louis prosecutor.
A half-dozen female prosecutors from California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia, a self-described “sisterhood” of reform-minded public officials, joined supporters Tuesday in St. Louis to rally for Gardner, whose office has been under investigation during a perjury case of a man hired to investigate former Gov. Eric Greitens.
“Kim, like the others that stand before you today, has challenged the status quo and the keepers of the status quo don’t like that, which is why she’s being personally and professionally attacked,” Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby said. “We are here to tell Kim and everyone else we shall not only overcome, but collectively we shall prevail in reforming the criminal justice system.”
In addition to Mosby, the prosecutors who traveled to support Gardner were Diana Becton from Contra Costa County, California; Aisha Braveboy from Prince George’s County, Maryland; Stephanie Morales from Portsmouth, Virginia; Aramis Ayala from the Orlando, Florida, area; and Rachael Rollins from Suffolk County, Massachusetts.
They came to St. Louis to rally against what they view as efforts by police, the courts and the legal community to resist Gardner’s agenda to overhaul the criminal justice system in favor of minorities. At a panel discussion Tuesday at Harris-Stowe State University, the prosecutors, all African American women, described resistance they faced in their cities when they took office.
Some described their reform efforts being blocked by judges, or receiving racist hate mail and death threats. Gardner has claimed similar treatment during her first term.
Gardner did not attend a morning rally on the steps of the Carnahan Courthouse but gave closing remarks at the panel discussion.
“This is not just about criminal justice reform,” Gardner told a crowded auditorium of supporters. “This is the new civil rights movement.”
In her federal lawsuit that was filed Monday, Gardner alleged a conspiracy to “thwart and impede her efforts to establish equal treatment under law for all St. Louis citizens.” Defendants include the city of St. Louis; the St. Louis Police Officers Association and its longtime business manager; a former police officer who sued her office; and Gerard Carmody and his children, who are the private attorneys appointed as special prosecutors to investigate her office’s handling of the Greitens inquiry.
The visiting prosecutors’ trips were funded in part by the Vera Institute, a criminal justice reform organization based in Brooklyn, New York. Vera representative Jamila Hodge said no St. Louis tax dollars were spent on the prosecutors’ trips here and that some paid their own way.