Local NAACP pushes back against Missouri travel advisory

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The leader of a St. Louis-area NAACP branch on Thursday pushed back against a travel advisory supported by state and national NAACP members that urges caution while in Missouri over their concerns about whether civil rights will be respected.

At issue is an advisory sent in June by the state NAACP that warns travelers to use "extreme caution" while in Missouri. It cites, among other issues, a new law to raise the standard to prove employment or housing discrimination in court. National delegates also voted in favor of the advisory.

St. Louis County NAACP President Esther Haywood said in a statement that while the local group doesn't support that law, members are worried a travel advisory could hurt workers in the state.

"The people hurt by the travel advisory are the members of our NAACP community who work across our state in hospitality industry jobs and who have played no role in this legislation," Haywood said.

On top of the discrimination law, the advisory cited a recent attorney general's report that shows black Missouri drivers last year were 75 percent more likely to be stopped by police than white drivers.

The Missouri NAACP has fought for months against the discrimination law, arguing it could make it tougher to hold people accountable for harassment and discrimination.

Backers — including Republican Gov. Eric Greitens, who signed the bill in June — argued the change could end "frivolous" lawsuits in the state and said a number of other states and the federal government use a similar standard required to prove discrimination.

Haywood said if the NAACP doesn't immediately rescind the advisory, it should issue warnings for states with similar laws.

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