JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – During her first remarks back in Jefferson City following the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, State Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal slammed fellow Democrat Gov. Jay Nixon’s handling of the crisis.
“The real state of emergency” facing the community, she said, is larger than one shooting in Ferguson. It goes to the educational situation there and an institutionalized fear of police, she said. In Ferguson and other poor, majority-black towns, Chappelle-Nadal said there has been “hopelessness for a long time.”
Of that, she said, “Gov. Nixon is not aware.”
“To let that state of emergency for black people to go on,” she said to Nixon, “you don’t care about black people.”
Chappelle-Nadal, a vocal critic of Nixon since he vetoed her coveted school transfers bill earlier this summer, slammed Nixon’s delayed public response. Nixon’s has defended his response, noting that he visited a nearby church and spoke with Department of Justice officials early on in the crisis. Still, it wasn’t until after six days of protests and riots that Nixon’s administration took over control of the situation.
“By the time our governor responded, we’d been tear gassed three times,” she said. “My constituents have been treated like animals… like third class citizens.”
Chappelle-Nadal said she hopes the police tactics will be reviewed and changed to weed out potential bad apples within the police force.
While she spoke on the Senate floor for nearly an hour, Republicans and Democrats alike sat quietly and listened as she recalled her experiences in the community reeling from the shooting and its decades-long issues with racial strife. In the upper gallery, a group of about two dozen people from Ferguson listened.