St. Louis’s top prosecutor is taking on the city. On Monday Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner filed a federal civil rights lawsuit, alleging that the city and local police union worked together to force her out of office. 

Gardner, who assumed her position in 2017 and has served as the first African American to head up the Circuit Attorney’s Office, cited the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 in what she’s calling an unprecedented suit that exploits the racially motivated actions by the defendants to obstruct her efforts to ensure equal justice under the law.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that Gardner has named the city, the St. Louis Police Officers Association, its longtime business manager Jeff Roorda, former police officer Charles Lane who sued Gardner’s office, and private attorney Gerard Carmody and his children.  

Kim Gardner at press conference
St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner holds a press conference attended by local CBS-affiliate KMOV News 4.

Gardner insists that the defendants conspired against her because of her promise to crack down on the racial inequalities throughout the city and rebuild trust in the criminal justice system. 

“Unfortunately, entrenched interests in St. Louis, including Defendants, have mobilized to thwart these efforts through a broad campaign of collusive conduct, including the unprecedented appointment of a white, ethically conflicted Special Prosecutor to investigate the activities of Gardner’s office and a patently overbroad and unconstitutional ransacking of the office’s electronic files,” the lawsuit claims. 

According to the Washington Post, The Fraternal Order of Police has called Gardner’s decision, the “last act of a desperate woman” and the mayor ays that it is both frivolous and meritless. But St. Louis resident Eula Jean Wiggins backs the St. Louis native’s decision, saying “it’s about time.” 

“She has a record of speaking truth to power,” Wiggins told ESSENCE. “The city is not being policed, and something has to be done. Any effort she puts in to change the status quo gets knocked down or challenged, meanwhile, people of color are still being killed. Change only happens when someone has the courage to speak up or march, and in this day — sue.”

Gardner also has an ally in city council treasurer Tishaura Jones, who tweeted, “Black prosecutors in this country are under attack. But this one stood up and fought back! #IStandWithGardner” 

Tishaura Jones says she’s standing behind St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner.

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