Author

Rebecca Rivas

Rebecca Rivas

Rebecca Rivas covers civil rights, criminal justice and immigration. She has been reporting in Missouri since 2001, most recently as senior reporter and video producer at the St. Louis American, the nation's leading African-American newspaper.

Missouri Senate hears bipartisan push to forgive mistakenly overpaid unemployment benefits

By: - January 20, 2022

Tracie Engelmeyer was among hundreds of bus drivers who were furloughed in St. Louis County in March 2020 because of the pandemic. School-district authorities told them that even though drivers are contracted labor, they would qualify for unemployment benefits and urged them to apply. Engelmeyer recalled the conversation she had with a school district representative […]

Bipartisan group of Missouri lawmakers hope to close domestic violence gun loophole

By: and - January 18, 2022

Marsha Keene-Frye grew up around guns, going hunting with her family from a young age near her home in Mississippi County. To this day, she still regularly carries a firearm and considers herself a supporter of the Second Amendment, just like most of her neighbors in southeastern Missouri. But for 27 years, Keene-Frye has worked […]

Republicans renew push to make it harder for voters to amend Missouri constitution

By: - January 12, 2022

After years of watching Missouri voters amend the state constitution to raise the minimum wage or legalize medical marijuana, Republican lawmakers are once again pushing to make the initiative petition process harder.  A measure sponsored by Rep. Mike Henderson, R-Bonne Terre, would ask voters to increase the number of signatures needed for initiative petitions to […]

COVID-19 Testing

As Missourians seek COVID tests, politicians seek to lay blame for long lines and shortages

By: and - January 7, 2022

Missourians are scrambling to find coronavirus tests amid surging cases of COVID-19 caused by the omicron variant, and politicians are scrambling to find someone to blame for the shortage. The state is rationing the tests it is buying for residents. No one will be able to order a free at-home test from the state Department […]

‘We’re quite frightened’: Missouri hospitals sound alarm over latest COVID wave

By: and - January 5, 2022

St. Louis area hospitals are getting “crushed” by the highest number of COVID patients they’ve seen yet in the pandemic, hospital leaders said in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon. And those patients are on track to double in the next couple weeks, according to projections from the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, which […]

Rebeccah Bennett was ‘spiritual center,’ strategist in St. Louis’ COVID-19 response

By: - December 31, 2021

It was never a question.  As the St. Louis region began to close schools and issue stay-home orders due to the pandemic, Rebeccah Bennett knew that the most vulnerable — the Black community, the unhoused and immigrant populations — would bear the brunt of this deadly virus.  And Bennett, founder of the consulting group Emerging […]

Couple creates food hub in southwest Missouri to help families during ‘difficult times’

By: - December 30, 2021

Anita and Gary Burney moved to Back Acres Homestead — or as they jokingly call it, “Back Ache-rs’ Homestead” — in southwestern Missouri three years ago to find a quieter life.  Just a few miles from both the Arkansas and Oklahoma borders, the Burneys’ homestead features a lovely stone house, chickens roaming, a garden, some […]

After 33 years advocating for victims of domestic violence, Colleen Coble is retiring

By: - December 29, 2021

It was spring of 1989, and Colleen Coble had been working as a lobbyist in Jefferson City for just a few months.  She stood in the gallery of the Missouri House of Representatives, waiting for a bill regarding protections for domestic violence victims to come up for a vote.  It had to pass out of […]

Kansas City residents will soon have the right to an attorney in eviction proceedings

By: - December 28, 2021

 A stack of boxes sitting in attorney Gina Chiala’s garage reminds her of how devastating evictions can be on families.  A woman had called her in 2014, a couple years before Chiala co-founded the Heartland Center For Jobs and Freedom nonprofit law group to provide legal support to the movement of fast-food workers fighting for […]

Missouri’s largest counties seek to appeal ruling overturning local health orders

By: and - December 13, 2021

Jackson and St. Louis counties requested Monday that they be permitted to intervene and appeal a recent court ruling that they argue has “upended the longstanding public health framework” in Missouri. In a filing submitted Monday afternoon and obtained by The Independent, the two counties asked Cole County Circuit Court Judge Daniel Green to stay […]

St. Louis County ends mask rule as school districts resist pressure from Schmitt

By: and - December 9, 2021

St. Louis County abandoned its effort to maintain a mask mandate Thursday as Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s crusade to crush out all such orders statewide continued. Some school districts said they would not comply with “cease and desist” letters from Schmitt after his office began soliciting complaints about mask rules, citing their legal authority. But […]

Missouri Attorney General tells schools, health departments to end COVID orders

By: and - December 7, 2021

Attorney General Eric Schmitt instructed school districts and local public health departments to immediately stop enforcing health orders a judge ruled unconstitutional last month, and warned Tuesday they may face legal action if they fail to do so. In separate letters sent Tuesday to school districts and health departments across the state, Schmitt pointed to […]