Civil Rights

Missouri committee debates transgender sports, healthcare, drag shows for nine hours

BY: - January 25, 2023

The Neiss family drove from St. Louis to Jefferson City on Tuesday, a trip they’ve made many times over the past four years. The reason is always the same: Legislation they fear will harm their transgender son. On the agenda Tuesday night in the House General Laws Committee were a litany of bills aimed at […]

Drag performers at Columbia event push back against Missouri Republican attack

BY: and - January 23, 2023

A drag performance last week at a diversity event attended by Columbia middle schoolers was “high-brow and innocent,” not the salacious sexual display alleged by Missouri Republicans, the marketing director for the group behind the performance said Sunday. At the annual Columbia Values Diversity Breakfast, timed to be near the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, […]

Lawsuit seeks to overturn Missouri abortion ban as violation of religious rights

BY: - January 19, 2023

When Missouri lawmakers put the words “Almighty God is the author of life” into the section of law stating the General Assembly’s intent for abortion regulations, they crossed the line separating church and state, a lawsuit filed Thursday in St. Louis charges. Thirteen Christian and Jewish leaders are suing the state and six elected prosecutors […]

Advocates, providers scramble as Missouri’s new homelessness law goes into effect

BY: - January 17, 2023

Audra Youmans says most people living on the streets of St. Louis have nowhere else to go. As a volunteer and advocate with St. Louis Winter Outreach, she made over 40 calls to the city’s referral service for homeless shelters last year — recording and compiling a video to demonstrate the problem.  “Every single time […]

Missouri regulators say they’re close to naming marijuana chief equity officer

BY: - January 13, 2023

The constitutional amendment legalizing recreational marijuana in Missouri won voter approval in November but created a schism among social-justice activists over the question of racial and economic equity.  Some believe the new law will empower minority marijuana business owners, while others worry it will cement an already distrusted, inequitable business licensing system in place. Much […]

St. Louis judge in Lamar Johnson innocence case still reviewing evidence

BY: - January 5, 2023

St. Louis Judge David Mason is still reviewing Lamar Johnson’s wrongful conviction case and working toward a decision on whether or not to set aside his 1995 murder conviction, a court spokesman told The Independent Wednesday. “There’s no date set yet to issue his ruling, but he is planning to set a hearing to provide […]

Missouri AG takes outsized role opposing prosecutors in wrongful conviction cases

BY: - December 22, 2022

St. Louis Judge David Mason was exasperated — again. “There’s so many documents here,” he said last week to Assistant Missouri Attorney General Miranda Loesch, pointing to the stack of evidence files in front of him.  “You will almost have to be saying that they’re all fake documents in order to get anywhere,” he said, […]

Homicide detective in Lamar Johnson’s case says he had no evidence

BY: - December 16, 2022

The homicide detective who led the investigation of the 1994 murder that landed Lamar Johnson in prison told a St. Louis courtroom that he had no evidence connecting Johnson to the murder, echoing what the prosecutor in the case said earlier in the week. Joseph Nickerson, who retired from the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department […]

Lamar Johnson takes the stand to argue his innocence of 1994 murder

BY: - December 15, 2022

After being imprisoned for nearly 30 years, Lamar Johnson finally got to tell his story to a courtroom on Thursday, when he testified that he didn’t kill his friend Marcus Boyd in 1995. “To this day, I don’t know why people suspect that I killed him,” said Johnson, who had been roommates with Boyd at […]

Missouri Republican pushes for constitutional change to recognize same-sex marriages

BY: - December 15, 2022

With the right to same-sex marriage now protected by federal statute, a Jackson County Republican lawmaker believes it is time for Missouri to retire a portion of the state constitution that says the only valid marriages are “between a man and a woman.” Rep. Chris Sander, R-Lone Jack, for the second year has introduced a […]

Club Q survivors at U.S. House hearing denounce anti-LGBTQ rhetoric

BY: - December 15, 2022

Survivors of a deadly attack at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs and other advocates told a U.S. House panel Wednesday that political rhetoric and policy fights dehumanize LGBTQ people and contribute to such violence. Democrats and Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee largely sympathized with the survivors, but drew different conclusions […]

Former St. Louis prosecutor says Lamar Johnson conviction relied on recanted witness

BY: - December 14, 2022

The prosecutor in Lamar Johnson’s 1995 murder trial told a St. Louis courtroom on Wednesday that he would have never brought the case in the first place without the testimony of an eyewitness who has since recanted. “I didn’t have any evidence,” said then-assistant St. Louis Circuit Attorney Dwight Warren.  Wednesday was the third day […]