Usually, when the US government issues a travel warning, it's to dissuade people from going to places that might have an "unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks." But now, the NAACP believes that travelers might face a similar threat here at home, and has decided to issue its first-ever travel advisory aimed at a US state: Missouri, the Kansas City Star reports.
In the statement—which the Missouri NAACP chapter first released back in June—the civil rights organization cites the state's recent spate of hate-fueled attacks, alleged racist policing, and high-profile cases in which minorities were killed as a reason for people to avoid traveling there. It also touches on data showing black drivers are 75 percent more likely to be pulled over in the state, as well as a new bill that would make it more difficult for individuals to win lawsuits alleging discrimination.
"The advisory means each individual should pay special attention while in the state of Missouri and certainly if contemplating spending time in Missouri," the statement reads. "Individuals traveling in the state are advised to travel with extreme CAUTION. Race, gender, and color based crimes have a long history in Missouri."
The advisory goes on to highlight recent incidents in the state that illustrate the "looming danger" Missouri travelers might face there. In May, a 28-year-old black man named Tory Sanford died after being held in a cell for 96 hours—without ever having been accused of a crime. Additionally, the past few years have seen minority students at the University of Missouri repeatedly subjected to racial slurs, and several high school students in St. Louis harassed and attacked due to their race.
"You have violations of civil rights that are happening to people," Missouri NAACP president Rod Chapel told the Star. "They're being pulled over because of their skin color, they're being beaten up or killed. We are hearing complaints at a rate we haven't heard before."
Travel advisories from civil rights organizations—like the one the ACLU issued back in 2010 after Arizona passed SB1070—are largely issued to highlight threats minorities face in various parts of the country. The ACLU's advisory asks visitors to the state to "warn your families, co-workers, and anyone visiting Missouri to beware of the safety concerns." According to the organization, it's in place until at least August 28, and countrywide representatives will have the option to ratify it in October.
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