On Tuesday, voters can do what Peter Merideth won’t do: stand up to Jeff Roorda.
Jeff Roorda is our town’s Donald Trump, and Peter Merideth won’t stand up to him.
Like Trump, Roorda is a hustler and a bully. Roorda even hawks his very own vanity-press-published book, Ferghanistan: The War on Police. (Roorda claims that a “generous” portion of the proceeds of sales of Ferghanistan go to former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, but Roorda’s never said anything more specific than this on the subject. How Trumpesque.)
But for Roorda’s position as de facto spokesperson for the St. Louis Police Officers Association (SLPOA), one could dismiss Jeff Roorda as the kind of right-wing crank who spends too much time holding forth in the STLtoday.com comments section. Roorda’s words, however, aren’t in the comments but in the articles. Roorda’s words, however, are broadcast throughout St. Louis by local television news stations hungry for the provocative and sensational.
As with Trump, examples of Roorda’s incendiary and divisive rhetoric are too numerous to count. So, let’s just go with Roorda’s latest.
On the evening of July 7th, 2016, a sniper shot and killed five police officers during what had been a peaceful demonstration in downtown Dallas. The moment called for cool heads among members of the protest movement and among members of law enforcement, not only in Dallas but in cites like St. Louis.
Jeff Roorda and his employer, SLPOA, viewed the tragedy in Dallas as an opportunity to fan the flames:
Peter Merideth is running for Missouri state representative of the 80th House District in St. Louis. Merideth counts both Jeff Roorda and Roorda’s employer, SLPOA, as supporters of his candidacy. SLPOA has endorsed Peter Merideth, and Merideth has accepted monetary donations from SLPOA.
This past Tuesday, Peter Merideth and his Democratic primary opponent, Ben Murray, squared off in a debate held at The Royale restaurant and bar. The debate’s moderator raised the issue of Roorda’s and SLPOA’s endorsement and support of Peter Merideth, and asked whether Merideth would reject their endorsements in light of Roorda’s and SLPOA’s latest instance of incendiary and divisive rhetoric.
Peter Merideth did not reject Roorda’s and SLPOA’s endorsement, nor did he say that he would return the money that he accepted from them. To do so, said Merideth, would be like “cutting off an arm.” It’s difficult for me to ascertain whether Merideth tolerates Roorda’s incendiary rhetoric, or Merideth is too afraid to cross Roorda. At any rate, this does not bode well for criminal justice reform efforts in the Missouri Legislature if Merideth wins the 80th House seat.
Ben Murray spoke on the issue clearly at the debate. “It’s about standing up, and saying no, and not taking [Roorda’s] money,” Murray said.
This Tuesday, voters in Missouri House District 80 can do what Peter Merideth won’t do. They can stand up to Jeff Roorda’s SLPOA and reject their incendiary and divisive rhetoric. Ben Murray is a solidly progressive Democrat. Ben Murray will represent the people of the 80th House District well, and he’ll stand up to the Jeff Roordas of the world while Peter Merideth won’t.
Below is a map of the 80th House District. If you reside within its boundaries or you know someone who does, then I urge you to vote Ben Murray for State Representative on Tuesday and/or urge your friends and family to do the same. (You can even share this blog post with friends and family if you want.)
After all, it’s not every day that you get to stand up to a bully at the ballot box. Vote Ben Murray for State Representative on Tuesday. It’s like a warmup for November.