Civil Rights

Phelps County standoff: Woman fights order banning her from Missouri city hall

BY: - November 20, 2020

EDGAR SPRINGS — A little over a year ago, Rebecca Varney was walking by city hall and saw vehicles belonging to the mayor and several aldermen parked outside. She’d seen no notice the Board of Aldermen would meet that Saturday, so she looked through a window.  Varney, 61, saw then-Mayor William Gallion and board members […]

Can Missourians turn in unsent mail-in ballots at the polls? Depends on where you live

BY: - November 3, 2020

Lauri Ealom was still hard at work at the Kansas City Board of Election Commissioners office on Friday at 7 p.m. ― as was most of the staff.  And, they were exhausted. “This is a nightmare,” said Ealom, the board’s Democratic director, in a phone call with The Independent Friday night. “This particular election has […]

Missouri Election Day FAQ: What you need to know to make sure your vote counts

BY: - November 2, 2020

Across Missouri, local election officials have received 628,395 mail-in and absentee ballots, according to the Secretary of State’s Oct. 27 report. Already, that’s more than twice the total absentee ballots counted in the November 2016 election. While many Missourians have already voted by mail or in-person absentee, many more will head out to the polls […]

Missouri DOC, Corizon agree to spend $50 million to treat inmates with hepatitis C

BY: - October 29, 2020

Michael Postawko’s attorneys say he contracted hepatitis C at the Jefferson City Correctional Center in 2012. At first, he didn’t have any symptoms. But then two years later, he began experiencing chronic fatigue, fever and abdominal pain. While the prison medical staff provided him medication for his symptoms, they didn’t treat him for the virus, […]

More than 67,000 convicted felons in Missouri can’t vote in 2020

BY: - October 28, 2020

About 67,800 convicted felons in Missouri cannot vote in the November election because they are on parole and probation, according to a new study. The Sentencing Project’s new study found that Missouri is among 16 states that don’t allow convicted felons to vote if they are on parole or probation. It estimates that about 22,900 Missourians […]

Missourians fight to keep their homes with end of eviction moratorium looming

BY: - October 28, 2020

Phone calls from families on the verge of losing their homes have jumped 300 percent at Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri. “And we’re getting more and more phone calls every day across the whole southern Missouri in our offices — not just Springfield, but it’s Poplar Bluff, over in Cape Girardeau and in Joplin,” said […]

KC Freedom Project’s Latahra Smith answers call for justice from wrongfully convicted

BY: - October 27, 2020

TOPEKA — KC Freedom Project founder Latahra Smith savors the rare court victory overturning a conviction and freeing someone falsely thrown in prison. There is an inevitable celebration of newfound liberty with hugs from family and smiles for cameras, Smith said. Everything seems good, Smith said, but she also appreciates that years of unwarranted incarceration […]

Missouri AG’s office denies allegations it broke law in medical marijuana lawsuit

BY: - October 26, 2020

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office dismissed accusations that his office and the state department of health illegally concealed records and violated the Sunshine Law during the course of a medical marijuana lawsuit, calling the charges “frivolous” and “baseless.” The accusation arose last week in a motion seeking sanctions against Schmitt’s office and the Missouri […]

Barrett nomination advances to U.S. Senate floor with a GOP-only vote

BY: and - October 22, 2020

WASHINGTON — Republicans on the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, as Democrats boycotted the markup in a show of protest. The 12 Republicans on the panel speedily voted on Barrett’s nomination and sent it to the Senate floor. The full Senate will […]

Missouri Attorney General candidates divided on key criminal justice reform

BY: - October 21, 2020

St. Louis-native Lamar Johnson has spent 26 years in prison praying that someone would hear his case. In August 2019, that day almost came. “I finally got taken back to St. Louis, and freedom is just right there,” Johnson said in a phone call with The Independent from Jefferson City Correctional Center. “And it was […]

Rev. Michelle Higgins speaks to canvassers

Groups work to energize Missouri’s Black voters in election’s final weeks

BY: - October 20, 2020

All summer and into the fall, the Rev. Michelle Higgins has set aside any thought of leisurely weekends with her family. Instead, she and her two children have been out knocking on doors. “My children’s weekend outings are canvassing and getting to know neighbors around our church building for a specific purpose — and that […]