The NAACP has responded to Missouri's recent legislation on discrimination by issuing a travel warning for the state. The advisory calls for travelers to utilize "extreme caution" in the state due to the likelihood of "discrimination and harassment," CBS News reported Tuesday. Rod Chapel Jr., president of the state's NAACP chapter, has described Republican Governor Eric Greitens' recent legislation as "the Jim Crow bill," a reference to the segregation tactics of the South.
The state's legislation will make lawsuits alleging discrimination much more difficult to win, as victims will now have to present proof that discrimination was the main reason for a defendant's actions. Previously, suits required proof that bias was a contributing factor. The bill also bars employees from suing any individual for discrimination, meaning only the company itself can be named in a suit.
"The advisory means each individual should pay special attention while in the state of Missouri and certainly if contemplating spending time in Missouri," the NAACP said in a statement. The NAACP added that the advisory was put into place to make Missourians and visitors aware of "looming danger" in the state, which has a "long history of race, gender, and color-based crimes." The travel advisory will be sent to the national NAACP board for ratification in October after being voted into adoption last week.
According to a report from the Kansas City Star, the advisory is the first of its kind from the civil rights group. "People need to be ready, whether it’s bringing bail money with them, or letting relatives know they are traveling through the state," Chapel said. In 2015 alone, 100 hate crimes were reported in Missouri.
The NAACP highlighted a number of recent and troubling incidents in their statement, including the death of Tory Sanders in May. Sanders, a Tennessee resident, ran out of fuel in Charleston, Missouri after taking a drive to "clear his head." The 28-year-old father of eight called his mother and asked if police could help him, the Riverfront Times reported in May.
Ultimately, Sanders' interaction with cops included what they characterized as a "mental break." Sanders' aunt, Natasha Nance, said he told his mother on a phone call from jail that officers were "trying to kill" him. Sanders reportedly collapsed while officers attempted to restrain him and was later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
Read the NAACP's full statement on the Missouri travel advisory here.