NAACP issues travel advisory for Missouri, warns minorities

Posted at 10:59 AM, Jul 30, 2017

The NAACP has issued a travel advisory for minorities traveling to Missouri and warned of a danger that their civil rights won't be respected.

The group adopted the measure during a national gathering this week.

The NAACP said the advisory was put in place after a number of developments in Missouri.

The group pointed to Governor Eric Greitens signing Senate Bill 43 into law weeks ago.

The bill makes it tougher for fired employees to file discrimination lawsuits.

Once the law goes into effect, fired employees must prove discrimination was the main reason for their firing, not just a contributing factor.

Supporters of the measure said the bill could help cut down on frivolous lawsuits and put Missouri more in line with federal standards.

However, opponents have worried about the law's potential impact.

"The bill would allow discrimination to run rampant in the workplace. We've actually rolled back protections for our most vulnerable citizens," explained State Rep. Brandon Ellington (D-Kansas City) during a community event in the metro on Saturday. "People should be concerned that we have a national organization that is painting Missouri as a racist state."

Ellington said Senate Bill 43 could lead to more harm than good in discrimination cases.

"When you think about Missouri, you don't think about a state that changes the law to make discrimination legal," he explained. "You would think that happens in a third world regime."

The travel advisory also came weeks after the Missouri Attorney General’s Office released a report showing that black drivers were 75 percent more likely to be pulled over than white drivers in the state last year.

Ellington led a "No More Excuses" symposium on Saturday aimed at raising awareness of resources available for communities dealing with high levels of violence.

Part of the event included opportunities for people to talk with police and attorneys about their rights, which he said were important to know.

"People should be cautious about coming to a state that values civil rights so little that we're willing to change the law to allow discrimination," he said.

Community advocate Teresa Perry attended Saturday's event at the Brush Creek Community Center.

She told 41 Action News that the NAACP travel advisory could help bring awareness and possibly progress to racial problems in the state.

"I'm glad they put it out there so we can start rectifying it whatever it is," she explained. "We can see what's going on with the state and say, 'Hey, this is not right. This is going to hurt us.'"

Senate Bill 43 goes into effect in late August across Missouri.