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Demonstrators at Missouri Capitol call for $15 an hour minimum wage

Around 200 demonstrators were in Jefferson City Monday calling for Missouri to adopt a $15 an hour minimum wage and other reforms to help the state's low income and minority communities.

Most of them traveled by bus on Monday from Kansas City, and once they arrived marched into the State Capitol and staged a rally. One of the leaders was Rodney Williams, a Kansas City pastor who's also one of the so-called Medicaid 23 who was arrested two years ago for demonstrating in the Missouri Senate visitors gallery.

"At this time, we will not engage in civil disobedience, because the first step must be that of petitions," Williams said. "We will be acting as one to send the same message to our state leaders throughout the country, the media, and our communities, that it is time for a moral revolution of values that challenge the narrow constructs of those who purport to be the representatives of the so-called Religious Right!"

Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio
Credit Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio
Terrance Wise, 37, who works at a Kansas City-area McDonald's, talks about the death of Myrna Santos, one of his co-workers.

"That is the reason we're here," Williams shouted, "we're here to sound an alarm that the House is on fire, and because we have voices we are sounding (the) alarm!"

Terrance Wise, 37, works for a Kansas City-area McDonald's restaurant. He spoke on behalf of Myrna Santos, a co-worker who recently passed away. Wise blamed her death in part on inadequate health care and low wages.

"Myrna's passing was based on decisions, and it was decisions that were made by people that are in power, that is our bosses, the CEOs, (and) the very people we put in office right here in Jefferson City," Wise said. "What are we going to do about that? We're going to mourn for all the dead and all that we've lost, and we're going to to continue to fight like hell for the living!"

The demonstrators also called for new laws that champion racial justice and union rights. Similar rallies were held Monday in 24 other states.

St. Louis Public Radio has requested comments from Republican legislative leaders as to whether they would allow legislation to move forward on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. They so far have not responded.

Follow Marshall Griffin on Twitter:  @MarshallGReport

Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.