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'Let's go': Kim Gardner addresses supporters, vows to fight AG's efforts to remove her

"It's baseless,” Gardner said Tuesday about the Missouri attorney general's lawsuit against her. "It's foolishness, but guess what, let's go, let's go, let’s go."

ST. LOUIS — There was an outpouring of support for embattled St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner Tuesday night. She spoke directly to her supporters at a criminal legal system reform roundtable. It happened amid Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey’s bid to remove her from office over claims she's failing to do her job.

The roundtable discussion resulted in a packed house at West Side Missionary Baptist Church in north St. Louis. One might call it a Kim Gardner pep rally. The unguarded circuit attorney told a crowd of supporters she was ready for battle.

"This quo warranto whatever, I'm not supposed to talk about it, it's baseless. It's foolishness, but guess what, let's go, let's go, let’s go,” she said, triggering thunderous applause from a room full of cheerleaders.

It was a moment for Gardner to address her base. Many came out just to hear her side of the story.

As an effort moves forward to remove her from office, Gardner said people have tried to sabotage her office from day one - in part, she said, because she's the first Black St. Louis circuit attorney and because of her approach to divert criminals into programs to make them better instead of automatically sending them to prison.

Watch Kim Gardner's full speech to supporters:

She said the push back is due to her "trying to change a system that has decimated communities."

"There's many issues with crime all over in Missouri and elsewhere but to make her a scapegoat related to this, and now, it's going to where they want to investigate her tactics and so forth, this is about power and control,” voter Marcell Jones said. "It's about white men wanting control of the power and they want to take it out of her hands. If, at this point, the citizens have local control, that means we have some authority, and we have some say so. But if the state takes back control, who polices them when they're doing things that we have a problem with?"

"I'm not convinced that she is doing a bad job. I am convinced that we have a lot of problems in the city of St. Louis … I really want to hear Kim Gardner talk. I'm really interested in hearing what she has to say,” voter Kayla Vaughn said.

Gardner said the claims against her are an effort to undermine the voice of the people who put her into office.

“Incompetent, right? They always want to say incompetent. Last time I checked, I have 20 years of a law license. Last time I checked, this unelected attorney general has nothing on 20 years, right? And let me say, since I got the media here, ‘unelected’. He was never put in by nobody,” she said.

Judge John Torbitzky gave Gardner until April 11 to respond to the 121-page amended petition Bailey filed against her on March 21. Originally, the judge gave her until March 31 to respond.

“You really had a vision for change … Make sure that your vision stays alive. We've got your back,” said Rabbi Susan Talve, founder of the Central Reform Congregation.

"Kim, you stand by while we pray … You stand by while we get our prayer ministry together, and can't nobody come against us. No weapon formed against us shall prosper,” Rev. Chuck Norris of the St. Louis Metro Clergy Coalition said, bringing the crowd to its feet in support.

As the legal battle resumes, Gardner told her supporters Tuesday she plans to run for office for a third term. That announcement was met with a standing ovation.

“This is voter suppression from the 1960s,” Gardner said.

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