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March 14, 2021
Prosecutor Kim Gardner’s fight to reform the St. Louis justice system
This past week, former Officer Derek Chauvin went on trial in Minneapolis, accused of the murder of George Floyd. Watching on a knife-edge is St. Louis, Missouri, where demands for police reform have been growing since 2014, when Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teen, was shot dead by a White cop in a nearby suburb. St. Louis has one of the highest rates of police shootings in the country, and Black mistrust of police runs deep. So when an African American woman won the top prosecutor’s job – first in 2016, and again this past November – many hoped for change. Kim Gardner, a Democrat in a Red State, promised to hold police to account. Instead, she has run into relentless opposition from the police union and its powerful allies. We went to St. Louis to find out what happens when a reformer takes on the status quo.