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.

Black Dems say nonpartisan elections in St. Louis County would dilute Black political power

By: - December 7, 2021

The cheers and ringing bells were deafening at Wesley Bell’s watch party for the August 2018 Democratic primary election in St. Louis County. Shocking the country, Bell had handed a stunning defeat to then-incumbent St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch ― the longtime prosecutor who had been sharply criticized by the Black community for his […]

St. Louis asks judge to rule ‘police bill of rights’ law unconstitutional

By: - December 3, 2021

The City of St. Louis filed a lawsuit Friday asking a judge to strike down a wide-ranging bill that passed in May bolstering protections for police under investigation for misconduct. The city’s lawsuit targets a portion of a bill called the “Law Enforcement Bill of Rights,” a list of more than 15 new requirements that […]

Eric Schmitt and Donald Kauerauf

Missouri health director wanted to appeal judge’s COVID ruling. AG Schmitt refused

By: and - December 2, 2021

Attorney General Eric Schmitt will not appeal a consequential court ruling that strips powers from local health departments, despite a request from Missouri’s state health director to do so. In an email to The Independent, Schmitt’s spokesman said the attorney general’s office notified the Department of Health and Senior Services of its decision. “We have […]

Missouri bill seeks to forgive mistakenly overpaid unemployment benefits

By: - December 1, 2021

The state saw a historic number of Missourians apply for unemployment benefits in 2020. About 639,000 Missourians filed in the first three months of the COVID pandemic, as businesses shut down to stave off the virus’ spread. “They were encouraged to apply,” said Jim Guest, director of the volunteer lawyers program at Legal Services of […]

Conservationists work to keep Missouri’s wild turkey numbers up

By: - November 25, 2021

A thick blanket of fallen leaves completely covered the hikers’ feet on Turkey Ridge Trail in St. Louis County.  A leafless forest is great for spotting Missouri’s largest bird — the wild turkey — this time of year, said Ed Leutwiler, a longtime volunteer with Missouri Department of Conservation. But unfortunately, the loud crunching sounds […]

Missourians come together to welcome Afghan refugees

By: - November 24, 2021

Marshall Klimasewiski and his nine-year-old daughter, Amna, were among hundreds of runners and walkers who lined up for the Race for Refugees in St. Louis on Saturday morning. The International Institute, the city’s refugee resettlement agency, has aided thousands of people fleeing their countries during its 100 years of service, Marshall said. And the agency […]

Missourians say they can’t get federal food assistance due to long call wait times

By: - November 15, 2021

Just as the school year was ending this past spring — and with it, free school lunches — Erin Bay learned that her monthly food assistance through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) was cut off.  She was informed by the state that her son’s federal disability assistance put her about $65 over the income […]

COMMENTARY

Day of the Dead reminds us to live | Opinion

By: - November 2, 2021

The nostalgic smell of pan dulce, or sweet bread, hit me when I walked into Diana’s Bakery on Cherokee Street in St. Louis. It was impossible not to think of my grandmother taking me to a similar panadería (bakery) and letting me and my sisters pick out a pan dulce, while she bought her favorite […]

If Missouri doesn’t spend its federal rental and utility assistance money it could lose it

By: - October 29, 2021

Jill McCormick shook her head and lifted her eyes to the ceiling.  “What is the hold up for getting that money directly to [tenants]?” McCormick, a tenant advocate with the nonprofit Action St. Louis, asked St. Louis’ new director of human services, Yusef Scoggin, at a community meeting Tuesday. The city has received more applications […]

Missouri woman mired in years long struggle with feds over road accessing her property

By: - October 26, 2021

As a young girl in the 1930s, Opal Brixey would walk down a narrow road, lined with tall oak trees and thick brush to get to a one-room schoolhouse. The road, nestled in the woods of Douglas County in southern Missouri, also led down to Mr. Johnson’s sawmill and to a few homes in the […]

Funds now available for Missouri nonprofits working to deter crime

By: - October 22, 2021

Under legislation approved by state lawmakers in May, nonprofits working to deter crime in seven Missouri communities can now apply for state funds —totaling up to $500,000 — to support their work. Applications are being accepted through Oct. 29. A law signed by Gov. Mike Parson in June created the Economic Distress Zone Fund grant program. The […]

Pandemic pushed St. Louis job fair for ex-offenders online. It became more successful

By: - October 18, 2021

When Dominic Tornatore is released from St. Louis County jail this fall, finding a job will be critical to helping him get back on his feet. Tornatore, 34, knows he’s made mistakes. He’s struggled with drinking and has numerous drunk-driving offenses on his record. But he says he’s learned from a lifetime of bad decisions.  […]