ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
St. Louis prosecutor Kim Gardner is suing the city she represents. Gardner says she is the target of a racist conspiracy to drive her from office and stifle her efforts to overhaul the city's criminal justice system. St. Louis Public Radio's Jason Rosenbaum reports.
JASON ROSENBAUM, BYLINE: In Gardner's lawsuit filed yesterday, she contends that a slew of defendants, including St. Louis' police union, are engaging in a racist effort to block her agenda and throw her out of office. She also charges that a special prosecutor looking into how her office handled the prosecution of former Governor Eric Greitens is overstepping its bounds. Gardner says the real issue is she's pushing hard for reforms, including a closer look at the conduct of St. Louis police officers.
KIM GARDNER: The people are tired. They elected me to do the job that they elected me to do to - to implement reforms. And enough is enough. The people have spoken.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST AMBIENCE)
ROSENBAUM: On the steps of the Carnahan Courthouse in St. Louis today, supporters like Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby praised Gardner's conduct.
MARILYN MOSBY: What we can all attest to is the fact that the keepers of the status quo that brought us mass incarceration, the overcriminalization of poor black and brown people, tough sentences, no redemption and no second chances won't give up their power quietly.
ROSENBAUM: A spokesman for St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said the allegations in the lawsuit were meritless. Jeff Roorda with the St. Louis Police Officers Association goes a step further. He thinks the suit is meant to deflect attention away from the special prosecutor probe.
JEFF ROORDA: This is the last act of a desperate woman who wants to silence her critics, and she's abusing her elected position to do it.
ROSENBAUM: Peter Joy is a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis. He says while Gardner and her supporters think the police union and others are out to get her, those opposing her believes she's made significant mistakes. Joy says both could be true.
PETER JOY: This is pretty much like a vegetable soup kind of problem that she's been facing because there are a lot of different ingredients and a lot of different pushes and pulls going on.
ROSENBAUM: Kim Gardner is up for re-election later this year. Lawsuit aside, it could be city voters that get the final say about her agenda and performance.
For NPR News, I'm Jason Rosenbaum in St Louis.
(SOUNDBITE OF STEVE MOORE'S "BELOVED EXILE")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.