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UPDATED at 4:45 p.m. with remarks from afternoon forum at Harris-Stowe State University.

ST. LOUIS — A day after Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner filed a federal lawsuit alleging a racist conspiracy against her, prosecutors from across the nation converged here to show support for the embattled St. Louis prosecutor.

A half-dozen female prosecutors from California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts and Virginia, a self-described "sisterhood" of reform-minded prosecutors, joined supporters Tuesday in St. Louis to rally for Gardner, whose office has been under investigation during a perjury case of a man hired to investigate former Gov. Eric Greitens.

"Kim, like the others that stand before you today, has challenged the status quo and the keepers of the status quo don't like that, which is why she's being personally and professionally attacked," Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby said Tuesday. "We are here to tell Kim and everyone else we shall not only overcome, but collectively we shall prevail in reforming the criminal justice system."

In addition to Mosby, the prosecutors who traveled to support Gardner were Diana Becton from Contra Costa County, California; Aisha Braveboy from Prince George’s County, Maryland; Stephanie Morales from Portsmouth, Virginia; Aramis Ayala from the Orlando, Florida, area; and Rachael Rollins from Suffolk County, Massachusetts.

They came to St. Louis to rally against what they view as concerted efforts by police, the courts and the legal community to resist Gardner's agenda to overhaul the criminal justice system in favor of minorities and to hold police accountable. At a panel discussion Tuesday at Harris Stowe State University, the prosecutors, all African-American women, described similar resistance they, too, faced in their cities when they took office.

Some described their reform efforts being blocked by judges, or receiving racist hate mail and death threats. Gardner has claimed similar treatment during her first term.

Gardner did not attend a morning rally on the steps of the Carnahan Courthouse but gave closing remarks at the panel discussion.

"This is not just about criminal justice reform," Gardner told a crowded auditorium of supporters. "This is the new civil rights movement."

The visiting prosecutors' trips were funded in part by the Vera Institute, a criminal justice reform organization based in Brooklyn, New York. Vera representative Jamila Hodge said no St. Louis tax dollars were spent on the prosecutors' trips here and that some paid their own way.

Gardner's scheduled deposition Wednesday as a witness in the perjury case against William Don Tisaby was postponed to Jan. 24 because of a scheduling conflict with Tisaby's lawyer. Tisaby s accused of lying during a March 2018 deposition in the run-up to the scuttled Greitens trial that year. Another witness in the case, former chief Circuit Attorney's Office investigator Tony Box, was deposed for several hours Monday.

Joel Currier • 314-340-8132

@joelcurrier on Twitter

jcurrier@post-dispatch.com

This article originally ran on stltoday.com.

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