The state of Missouri has earned the dubious distinction of being the first-ever state to have a travel advisory issued against it by the NAACP, the warning issued due to a recent string of both directly and indirectly state-sanctioned racist and discriminatory incidents.
The Kansas City Star reports that the advisory was circulated in June by the Missouri NAACP and picked up by the national organization late last month.
State NAACP leaders told the Star that the decision to issue the advisory was made after recent legislation passed in the state that makes it harder to win discrimination suits; the longtime and continued racial disparities in traffic enforcement; and a number of incidents that exemplify harm coming to both minority residents and minority visitors to the state.
One of the incidents cited by the organization is the death of 28-year-old Tory Sanders of Tennessee, whose wrong turn while traveling through the state ended with him dying in a rural jail 150 miles south of St. Louis.
“How do you come to Missouri, run out of gas and find yourself dead in a jail cell when you haven’t broken any laws?” Rod Chapel, the president of the Missouri NAACP, asked the Star.
“You have violations of civil rights that are happening to people. They’re being pulled over because of their skin color, they’re being beaten up or killed,” Chapel added. “We are hearing complaints at a rate we haven’t heard before.”
According to the Star, national delegates from the NAACP voted to adopt the advisory, and the national board will ratify it in October.
“The advisory is for people to be aware, and warn their families and friends and co-workers of what could happen in Missouri,” Chapel said. “People need to be ready, whether it’s bringing bail money with them, or letting relatives know they are traveling through the state.”