ST. LOUIS - Successful black prosecutors from across the country came to St. Louis for a rally outside Carnahan Courthouse in support of embattled St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.
The prosecutors joined local leaders and Gardner supporters in a show of solidarity and a protest. They said the circuit attorney is being mistreated by the powers that be.
"You are not alone," said Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. "We will not stand idly by any longer while the keepers of the status quo try to tear you down."
On Monday, Gardner filed what she called an unprecedented federal civil rights lawsuit, accusing the city, the local police union and others of a coordinated and racist conspiracy aimed at forcing her out of office. The city's elected prosecutor also accused "entrenched interests" of intentionally impeding her efforts to reform racist practices that have led to a loss of trust in the criminal justice system.
"Black women have been elected as prosecutors and bring new and fresh thoughts and ideas that have been lacking in the pursuit of justice in public safety, but this is what justice looks like," said prosecutor Aramis Ayala, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court of Florida.
The group said Gardner was elected by the people and is serving the people but they claim forces are afraid of the work she is doing and they are trying to remove her from office.
"When we point out institutional racism and classism are alive and well in the criminal legal system, they call us angry, crazy, desperate, or frantic," said Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins. "A dog whistle that is all too familiar for us."
Gardner's lawsuit alleges civil rights violations as well as violations of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871. Gardner is black. The named defendants are white.
The lawsuit names the city of St. Louis, the St. Louis Police Officers Association and its business manager, Jeff Roorda, and Gerard Carmody, a special prosecutor who indicted an investigator hired by Gardner. It also names Carmody's son and daughter, who helped in his investigation, and a former police officer who sued over Gardner's use of private attorneys related to Carmody's investigation.
Numerous speakers outside the Carnahan Courthouse said Gardner has been a model reform prosecutor, who is addressing racial disparities in the criminal justice system.
Adolphus Pruitt, president of the NAACP St. Louis, addressed Gardner's scheduled deposition regarding her former investigator, William Don Tisaby, who's been indicted for his work in the case of former Missouri governor Eric Greitens.