ST. LOUIS, MO – Missouri Senator Richard “Rick” Brattin introduced Senate Bill 66 (SB66), which would allow drivers to use deadly force against protesters without liability. This legislation is a powder keg for more violence and racial injustice. Protesting is a First Amendment right, and minor steps with police accountability have only occurred due to citizens utilizing their First Amendment rights through protests.
Missouri is an open-carry state. Missouri also follows rules of the Castle Doctrine, which allows citizens to defend their lives from perceived threats. Any protester in danger of being struck by a motor vehicle under the Castle Doctrine could have the right to protect themselves from a driver intent on hitting them with a car, which lends a hand to more violence.
Not surprisingly, SB66 is supported by the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) and the St. Louis Police Officer Association (SLPOA). The SLPOA President Officer Jay Schroeder stated, “I just think this is a way to protect everybody’s free speech.” This is far from free speech; it attempts to silence the Frist Amendment rights of Missouri citizens.
Another concern is that school-age children often stage school walkouts in protest of inequality. Brattin’s bill would place children utilizing their First Amendment rights in harm’s way. Brattin has sponsored other forms of biased legislation that target protesters. In 2015, Brattin introduced HB1743, which sought to prevent student-athletes from protesting after University of Missouri football players peacefully protested police brutality.
The Ethical Society of Police urges the Missouri Senate to do the right thing and let this legislation go no further than the Senate floor. SB66 will set back any progress made to improve the relationship between the community and police departments in Missouri.
The Ethical Society of Police
The National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers also released this statement in opposition to SB66: https://nableo.org/press_Details.cfm?articleID=62
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The Ethical Society of Police (ESOP) is an association of police officers, park rangers, and civilians that advocates for racial and gender equity in the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and St. Louis County Police Department. ESOP was founded in 1972 to address racial biases within law enforcement. ESOP also works to improve community/police relations, develop policies and programs to reduce crime, elevate the status of minority civilians and police officers, encourage greater minority employment by law enforcement agencies, and increase professionalism in law enforcement. Membership is open to all races and includes more than 370 law enforcement professionals employed by the City and County of St. Louis. ESOP membership is approximately 97% African American, but membership is open to all races, religions and sexual orientations. For details, call (314) 690-3565, email email@example.com or visit www.esopstl.org.