ST. LOUIS -- Two supporters of local control for the city's police department have fired back at a State Senator who equated the issue to "slave politics."
On Tuesday, State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, a Democrat from University City, likened those pushing to wrest control of the St. Louis police force from the state as "house slaves" of millionaire Rex Sinquefield, who has put some of his fortune behind the effort.
"What these plantation owners like Rex Sinquefield are doing is using some of their house slaves that are elected in St. Louis," Chappelle-Nadal said on WGNU (920-AM) radio Tuesday. "They're actually disguising the conversation and saying this is a civil rights issue."
After learning of the comments, State Rep. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, the lead proponent of local control in the House, suggested Chappelle-Nadal "needs to get some help."
"I'm not mad. I was a little taken aback," Nasheed said. "Calling African-Americans slaves, that's just poor statesmanship. I just think she needs to get some help. She's intelligent but she just has a chemical imbalance. She's not rational."
Nasheed noted that Chappelle-Nadal clinched the Senate seat by a slim margin in the August primary.
"When you come in with 150 to 200 votes," Nasheed said. "She should be making friends, not enemies."
It may be too late for that.
St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed -- the target of pointed questioning from Chappelle-Nadal at a hearing earlier this year -- said the senators comments "are deplorable and drag us back to an era that this country has worked hard to move past."
"This is not just an insult to me, but this is an insult to me as a father or four, as an African American male and to all African Americans across this nation," Reed said in a statement. "This type of racism cannot be tolerated in the St. Louis community or anywhere in our country."
Reed said he is formally calling on Chappelle-Nadal, who is also black, to step down from office, and that he will be "actively be seeking out individuals in her Senatorial District to help out this effort."
"Don Imus didn’t get a pass and neither should Maria Chappelle-Nadal,” Reed said, referring to a 2007 incident when the radio host referred to a women's basketball team as "nappy-headed."