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.

‘The fight has to change’: Why Ferguson activists ditched police reform

By: - May 3, 2021

This is part one of a collaboration between The Missouri Independent and Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting. Read part two. Hear the audio version of this story here.  Ten days after Michael Brown, it was 25-year-old Kajieme Powell. Two months later, it was 18-year-old VonDerrit Myers Jr. All in the St. Louis region. […]

‘It’s a new day’: Tishaura Jones’ victory an historic moment for St. Louis

By: - April 7, 2021

St. Louis Mayor-elect Tishaura Jones was about to step off the podium at her victory party Tuesday night when a young Black journalist called out, “What do you have to say to those Black girls on the north side?” An hour before, Jones had learned that she will become the first Black woman to lead […]

As evictions loom, federal moratorium extends and Missouri rental assistance expands

By: - April 3, 2021

About 7,000 households in St. Louis County will receive an urgent postcard this weekend. In big, bold letters, it states: “Do you need help paying the rent or utilities?” These families are at risk of eviction, according to the St. Louis COVID-19 Regional Response Team, which sent the cards. And, 600 of them have eviction […]

St. Louis church helps Missourians navigate system to obtain state-issued IDs

By: - March 17, 2021

Edna Scott and Juan Chambers arrived early at St. Francis Xavier College Church on Tuesday morning. But the line was already out the door.  Just like them, about 20 people were waiting at 9 a.m. to get into the church’s identification outreach program. They needed birth certificates or state IDs in order to get jobs, […]

University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing student Hannah Tipton administers a COVID-19 vaccine to Clifford Nevins during MU Health Care’s vaccination clinic in the Walsworth Family Columns Club

COVID affects Black Missourians disproportionately. Vaccine is slow to get to them

By: and - March 7, 2021

When the pandemic hit St. Louis last March, it soon became clear that the majority of COVID hospital patients were coming from north St. Louis — where the state’s largest Black population is.  “That is concerning,” Dr. Alex Garza, the incident commander of the St. Louis Metropolitan Pandemic Task Force, said in April. “That shows […]

Missouri Supreme Court denies Lamar Johnson a new trial

By: - March 2, 2021

Nearly two years ago, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner filed a motion for a new trial for Lamar Johnson, who has now spent 26 years in jail.  Gardner alleged former prosecutors and police fabricated evidence to get Johnson’s murder conviction in 1995. However, a circuit judge ruled Gardner didn’t have the power to file […]

St. Louis will narrow field of candidates for mayor in city’s first nonpartisan primary

By: - February 28, 2021

St. Louis will begin the process of electing a new mayor on Tuesday, when city voters choose two candidates to face off in the April 6 general election.  For the first time, the primary will be non-partisan, after a new “approval voting” system was enacted that placed all candidates on the same ballot and allowed […]

Missouri Republicans look to reinstate voter ID requirement

By: - February 25, 2021

About 137,700 registered voters in Missouri did not have a state-issued identification in 2017, according to an analysis from the Secretary of State’s Office.  Another 140,000 voters had expired IDs, and 2,000 more voters had forfeited their driver’s licenses. Under a bill passed Wednesday in the Missouri House, those registered voters would either have to get […]

protests in st. louis in 2017

Bill increasing penalties for protesters wins initial approval in Missouri Senate

By: - February 23, 2021

Republican state Senators advanced sweeping legislation early Tuesday morning aimed at penalizing protestors who block streets, while also providing further protections for law enforcement under investigation for misconduct or excessive force. The bill also aims to prevent municipalities from decreasing the budgets for law enforcement agencies in Missouri by more than 12 percent over five […]

Exterior Missouri State Capitol building

Republicans renew push to make it harder to change Missouri’s constitution

By: - February 17, 2021

When Alice Barber was collecting signatures to put the Clean Missouri constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2018, she once stood outside the Springfield DMV in the snow for three hours — until her hands went numb inside her gloves. “I got about fifteen signatures,” she recently told the Missouri House elections committee. “The ballot […]

With gun deaths climbing, Missouri lawmakers push to loosen firearm restrictions

By: - February 15, 2021

While Missouri continues to struggle with one of the highest rates of gun deaths in the country, Republican lawmakers are advancing a litany of bills aimed at further loosening the state’s gun laws.  One proposal would allow guns on college campuses, while another would ban churches from prohibiting guns in places of worship. Others aim […]

Gov. Parson signs bill to approve $324 million for rental assistance

By: - February 11, 2021

Gov. Mike Parson signed into law Thursday legislation allocating $324 million in funding for rental assistance — part of the COVID-19 relief package passed by Congress in December. The funds are available for both tenants and landlords through the Missouri Housing Development Commission (MHDC).  The federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program includes up to 12 months […]