JEFFERSON CITY - Antonio Minor has only been to one St. Louis Cardinals game, but his feelings are clear when it comes to state funding of a new stadium.
"Help the needy not the greedy," Minor said.
His words echoed the message of about 60 protesters who came to the Capitol on Monday voicing opposition to a $644 million bill that would commit state funding to a variety of projects, including construction of a new Cardinals stadium in St. Louis. Minor, like many of the protesters, is homeless.
Minor has been living in Harbor Lights Shelter in Saint Louis for three months. It was his first time in the Capitol. "I just thought it was the right thing to do", he said.
The stadium bill took a small step forward Monday, receiving approval from the Senate's State Budget Control Committee in a 4-3 vote. The approval is required for every bill that is going to cost the state a significant amount of money.
Sen. Marvin Singleton, R-Seneca and the committee's chair, said he questioned the fiscal responsibility of the bill.
"I think the state of Missouri's fiscal condition is that we have dug ourselves into a big hole...By moving forward with this bill we've simply continued to dig deeper," Singleton said.
Jamilah Nasheed, one of the protest leaders, said that approval of the bill would only benefit businesses.
"We need that money", she said. "We don't think the (stadium) deal is good for the interest of the community in which the states representatives work for".
Nasheed said that their purpose was to speak with legislators of the Black Caucus before the stadium will goes to further votes. The protesters, mostly black, walked inside the Capitol while the House and the Senate were in session. Lining up in the corridors, they chanted while handing banners with names of different representatives from the Black Caucus.
"The constituents are the ones that can take you out. So, listen to the cry of your constituents other than the loud sound of the pimps, such as the Cardinals," Nasheed said.