JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A coalition of lawmakers, civil rights groups, and religious leaders gathered in the Capitol Monday to denounce a controversial public safety bill.
SB 26, sponsored by Sen. Bill Eigel, would create the offense of unlawful traffic interference if someone impedes or blocks traffic on a public street, highway, or interstate highway. It also adds to the offense of institutional vandalism should someone deface a public monument or structure on public property amid various law enforcement reforms.
Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel Jr., Dr. Linden Bowie of the Missouri Baptist State Convention, and state Rep. Ashley Bland Manlove were among the speakers Monday.
“People have always taken to the streets to let the government know when they are wrong,” Bland Manlove said. “We have to work with law enforcement so they can understand the communities that they’re working with and the trials they are facing.”
- Additional changes in the bill include the establishment of a “bill of rights” for law enforcement, adding protections for officers under investigation and requiring them to be notified of the investigation.
- Democrats spoke on their constituents’ concerns during the bill’s time on the floor, including trepidation from clergy and law enforcement. The ACLU of Missouri also testified against it in committee.
- The bill passed the Senate last month; it received a hearing in the House Monday afternoon, and no executive action was taken.