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.

Protesters at Medicaid expansion rally

Medicaid enrollment backlog persists as advocates say Missouri could be doing more

By: and - March 16, 2022

Applying for health insurance through Medicaid expansion took Raven Cole just 10 minutes. But the wait to see if she’s approved has dragged on for months. The 23-year-old legal assistant applied for coverage, “well over two to three months ago.” “And I haven’t heard anything back,” Cole said. Cole is one of 72,657 Missourians who […]

St. Louis jail inmates file class action lawsuit alleging guards torture them with mace

By: - March 15, 2022

Inmates at St. Louis’ primary jail filed a federal class-action lawsuit Tuesday accusing guards of torture with mace and depriving them of water for days. The inmates are represented by a team of attorneys from the MacArthur Justice Center, ArchCity Defenders, the SLU Law Legal Clinics, and Rights Behind Bars.  “They spray chemical agents on […]

Mike Parson speaks to the General Assembly

Hispanic leaders ask for Missouri governor’s support in fighting voter ID laws

By: - March 11, 2022

Six years ago, Sal Valadez’s mother decided she wanted to take a U.S. citizenship test after living in the country for more than 60 years. “I said, ‘Mom, you’re 80 years old. Your English isn’t fantastic. Why?’” said Valadez, co-chair of the language access committee with the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition. “And she goes, ‘Because […]

With legalization looming, Black Missourians worry about losing out in marijuana industry

By: - March 9, 2022

Abe Givins sunk into a leather armchair at the Cola Private Lounge in St. Louis on Saturday afternoon, where his company hosted a panel of doctors speaking about medical marijuana. Givins is co-owner of Village, which advertises itself as the only vertically-integrated medical marijuana company in Missouri that’s 100% minority owned — meaning they have […]

Missourians can now apply for mortgage assistance via federal COVID-relief funds

By: - March 1, 2022

Missourians who experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic and are struggling to pay their mortgage can now apply for help through the State Assistance for Housing Relief (SAFHR) program. Starting March 1, the federally-funded SAFHR for Homeowners program will begin to provide nearly $140 million in assistance to homeowners to pay past-due mortgage balances […]

Missouri has only met minority participation goal for contracts four times in 30 years

By: - March 1, 2022

Every year, Missouri makes what it calls a “feasible effort” at spending 10% of state agencies’ expenditures with minority-owned businesses. In the past three decades, the state has only reached that goal four times. In fiscal year 2021, minority contractors earned 8.2% of the $1.5 billion that Missouri spent in contracts, according to an annual […]

St. Louis tries to block lawsuit against police officers from going to trial

By: - February 25, 2022

The City of St. Louis is asking a panel of federal judges to reconsider a January decision to allow a lawsuit against city police officers to go to trial.  Short of that, the city is asking for a rehearing in front of the entire U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Eighth District to stop […]

Federal lawsuit targets Missouri’s ‘dysfunctional’ food assistance program

By: - February 22, 2022

Mary Holmes, a 55-year-old St. Louis resident with cancer and other health challenges, says she has struggled to put food on the table for more than a month. Holmes relies on food assistance, but she hasn’t been able to get through the state’s call center line to maintain her federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) […]

Rep. Mark Sharp

Missouri could become the seventh state to recognize Black History Month

By: - February 17, 2022

Missouri law doesn’t officially recognize Black History Month — a fact that surprised several Black state lawmakers this week.  “I had to double and triple check it because I thought I was seeing things incorrectly at first,” said Rep. Mark Sharp, D- Kansas City, during a Monday meeting of the House Special Committee on Urban […]

DeVerne Calloway’s legacy in Missouri politics celebrated during Black History Month

By: - February 14, 2022

In June 1961, DeVerne Calloway sat down at her typewriter to write a column about the uncertain future of the Freedom Rides organized by the activist group Congress of Racial Equity (CORE). For almost two months, the Freedom Riders had faced severe beatings and harsh arrests in their efforts to challenge segregated interstate buses.  Calloway, […]

Missouri bill to prevent hair discrimination advances on eve of Black History Month

By: - February 10, 2022

As a young girl, state Rep. Raychel Proudie remembers when the beads in her hair would clap together as she walked. Her teachers would call it a “distraction” — the same way they did when her hair was “too high.” “You would come home and tell your mom, or she would get a note about […]

Missouri’s public safety leaders push to tighten accountability for police officers

By: - January 31, 2022

State officials last year investigated allegations that a law enforcement officer pointed a handgun at his son’s head while intoxicated.  The same officer was also intoxicated during “multiple incidents of domestic disturbances,” Sandy Karsten, director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, testified last week during a Senate committee hearing.  Karsten wanted to suspend the […]