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Why is Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner Continuing to Pursue the Death Penalty?

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

We need to ask Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner a few questions.

Why is ​​Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner pursuing the death penalty against three Black men? Why is she trying to hand these cases to Attorney General Eric Schmitt?

CA Gardner of St. Louis City says that she is "personally opposed to the death penalty”, but will use it as it’s a “tool in her toolbox”. We question whether this is what being a, ‘progressive prosecutor’, means. There are many laws & policies in the “toolbox” of a prosecutor. The death penalty is not a progressive tool. It's not a tool prosecutors should even have, given it's inherent bias & failure rate. Especially when used as a tool of racial terror upon Black men.

We know CA Gardner is using the death penalty in arbitrary ways, especially when applied by race. In 2020, a white man killed Officer Bohannon, who was a Black man, and injured another officer while both were on duty in St. Louis City. The murder of an officer is one of the leading arguments among death penalty proponents. Seeing as St. Louis County DA Wesley Bell is the only committed prosecutor in Missouri to not seek the death penalty, why didn't CA Gardner in the case of a slain Black police officer? This is one of many instances in which CA Gardner has not pursued the death penalty of white individuals convicted of homicide.

We’ll note, MADP is opposed to capital punishment for any reason.

​In five days on October, 15th, 2021, Judge Hogan is to rule whether to allow CA Gardner to pass off the death ticketed cases of three Black men to AG Eric Schmitt.

CA Gardner was elected to represent the people of St. Louis City . Her pursuance of the death penalty, particularly upon Black men, does not represent the people of St. Louis City. Despite this, CA Gardner continues to try to hand death ticketed cases to the AG and his office, who have continually been proven unsuccessful, costly to the people of St. Louis City, and re-traumatizes co-victims of horrific crimes.

For example, in November of 2019, AG Eric Schmitt and his office were unable to garner a death qualified jury in St. Louis City in the case of Eric Lawson. Mr. Lawson spent nine years pre-trial, and all of the families affected by this suffered greatly while waiting. In April 2021, despite summoning 3,400 people in St. Louis City, obtaining a death qualified jury, and going to trial, the AG and his office was still unsuccessful in obtaining a death sentence for Mr. Lawson. A St. Louis City jury instead sought life without the possibility of parole.

Should Judge Hogan rule against CA Gardner handing over death ticketed cases of Black men from St. Louis City to AG Eric Schmitt, we implore CA Gardner to pull all of the death tickets in her office, seek the alternatives, and officially recognize her stance against the death penalty by never seeking a death sentence in her office.

Should Judge Hogan rule in favor of CA Gardner handing over these cases to AG Eric Schmitt, we can only imagine what the AG will do to further his political career. AG Eric Schmitt just allowed for the unconstitutional murder of Ernest Johnson, an intellectually disabled Black man. He will stop at nothing to obtain death sentences for three Black men as he uses the murders of Black people in his run for Senate.

​​CA Gardner, remember who you represent. Stop ticketing Black men with the death penalty, and then trying to hand those cases to an Attorney General that is dead set on murdering Black people.

-Elyse Max, ED, MADP

-Michelle Smith, Racial Justice Coordinator MADP

-Lauren Sobchak, Organizer, MADP

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