It all started late Wednesday night after a long day of absorbing the same horrible racist news that the rest of America has been enduring. Nobody feels particularly safe or secure watching the president of the United States give a free hunting license to white nationalists, but it’s particularly hard for Maria Chappelle-Nadal, the state senator representing Ferguson, Mo.
“Last night around 10:10 I wrote ‘I Hate Trump’ on my Facebook page,” Nadal told The Root Thursday evening while making her way home after a day of interviews.
“When we were protesting [about what happened] with Charlottesville, [Va.,] it triggered people who were in Ferguson. It was a freaking trigger to every person who was teargassed; it was triggering point for all people, all of us!” she said.
On Thursday morning, as if waking up from a nightmare, Chappelle-Nadal logged on to her personal Facebook page and had the following exchange with one of her “friends.”
She quickly deleted the response, but not before all hell broke loose.
Even though this was posted on Chappelle-Nadal’s private page, someone saw the exchange and took a screenshot of it. The exchange got into the hands of St. Louis conservative radio host Mark Reardon, who posted it on Twitter and got in contact with the Secret Service. Any threat to the president of the United States, no matter if it’s done in private or meant as a joke, gets investigated by the Secret Service.
“What I wrote was wrong; I shouldn’t have said that,” Chappelle-Nadal said, adding that it doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a point of view she’s going to express.
“He’s [Trump] making it easier for racists to act because now they can just say, ‘I’m not as bad as Trump,’” she said. “He’s causing hate, he’s causing trauma and despair ... ”
Chappelle-Nadal stopped midsentence to ask her neighbors to help look out for her house Thursday night. She has regularly received death threats since her activism in Ferguson, and after her post was made public Thursday, she’s received hundreds more.
The senator was investigated by Secret Service all day for her comments, so she was only partially aware of just how bad and violent the responses have been on her timeline. Yet she persisted.
“What we’re dealing with is covert racism [in St. Louis]. Overt racism is what happened in Charlottesville. We have that covert racism here in Missouri,” she said.
This includes, but is not limited to, rampant police abuse that has returned to suburban St. Louis since federal investigators left Ferguson; environmental racism that has put nuclear waste near poor and minority communities; and policies so hostile to black people that the NAACP has issued a travel warning for black folks not to visit the state.
Chappelle-Nadal, despite regretting calling for Trump’s assassination, insists she’s been speaking out for the voiceless in Missouri who are suffering under the blatant white nationalism that this presidency is fomenting. State Democrats aren’t trying to hear her, though, and several, including Missouri’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, have called for Chappelle-Nadal’s resignation over her comments.
“We have too many Dixiecrats in Missouri who care more about re-election than protecting African Americans,” Chappelle-Nadal said before she broke into tears detailing the triangulated battle that African Americans face in the state: attacks by Republicans, no help from conservative Democrats, and a political environment that, in her view, is even more hostile now than Ferguson’s three years ago.
She quickly recovered to spit one last flame at the institutionalized Democratic Party.
“Claire McCaskill, she’s a Dixiecrat, too!” Chappelle-Nadal declared. “If I resigned, black people wouldn’t have a voice at all. If they paid half as much attention to the nuclear waste in our community as they did to me and what I say, we’d be in a much better place.”
As of this writing, Secret Service officials had not said whether they had concluded their investigation, and it is still unknown who took the screenshot of the senator’s initial Facebook post and gave it to a conservative radio station.