Kimberly Gardner, the first black Circuit Attorney in the history of St. Louis, Missouri, filed a lawsuit on Monday in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri against the city of St. Louis, the St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA), the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 68, and five other individuals for alleged racist efforts to block her reform agenda.
Gardner was elected in 2016 and took office in January 2017. She functions as the chief prosecutor for St. Louis and as the head of the Circuit Attorney’s Office.
In the complaint, Gardner claimed that the named defendants engaged in behavior that violated the Ku Klux Klan Act and the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution. She alleged that the defendants were trying to “thwart and impede her efforts to establish equal treatment under law for all St. Louis citizens at every turn; to remove her from the position to which she was duly elected—by any means necessary—and perhaps to show her successor what happens to Circuit Attorneys who dare to stand up for the equal rights of racial minorities in St. Louis.”
To illustrate this, Gardner claimed that some of the police officers posted racist and aggressively hostile comments on social media. Neither the Police Division nor SLPOA took action against the officers who made these posts. Gardner also claimed that Special Prosecutor Gerard Carmody, named as a defendant, abused his authority by issuing multiple search warrants to the Circuit Attorney’s Office. Following this action, SLPOA posted an event on its Facebook page, accusing Gardner of refusing to cooperate with the Special Prosecutor’s investigation and using an image evoking police use of dogs to attack African Americans during the civil rights movement. These were just a few of the many allegations that Gardner set forth in her complaint.
Gardner seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, the enjoinment of defendants from violating her rights under federal law, the awarding of her reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs, and the directing such other and further relief as the court deems “just and proper.” She demands a trial by jury.