JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri State Highway Patrol troopers and the Capitol Police are heightening security at the state Capitol after cross-hair stickers were placed on the nameplates of five Democratic senators and one Republican representative.
Although the motive remains unknown, the senators were debating a workplace discrimination bill and a bill to limit executive power in health care reform on the Senate floor at the time the stickers were placed by their offices.
The Highway Patrol continues to investigate Tuesday's incident. Senators said the troopers collected the crosshair stickers to try to lift prints. This is the second time that stickers were placed on the nameplates. No witnesses have been identified.
State Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia, said he didn’t notice a change in mood at the Capitol. He said the situation was “annoying.”
“These are punks, and we have punks all the time,” Kelly said.
Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, said the stickers shouldn't be treated as a prank. Still said the stickers were not discussed on the House floor, but she heard people talking about it in the hallways.
"I would be concerned if it was on my door," she said.
Sen. Kiki Curls, D-Jackson County, one of the senators targeted with the stickers, said, "It's the boldness in that act that they would come back into the Capitol and place another one. That is disturbing."
Sen. Robin Wright-Jones, D-St. Louis City, said she doesn't feel any different walking into the Capitol after Tuesday's events.
"As being a progressive female, African-American female and being African-American, I am consistently assaulted in one shape, form or fashion about my existence," Wright-Jones said.
Wright-Jones also said it is not uncommon for senators to hear protests and receive backlash from thousands of people with opposing views. However, senators are in agreement that security should be heightened at the Capitol.
"I think the Capitol has done a good job in responding," Wright-Jones said. "I certainly would like to see more security measures like we have in our city halls, courts, as well as our jails. We need metal detectors, bags looked at — it doesn't make sense to access this building without having that done."
The Missouri Capitol did have metal detectors in front of the doors in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but they fell victim to budget cuts and were removed in 2004.
Sens. Curls, Wright-Jones, Jolie Justus, Maria Chappell-Nadal and Victor Callahan, all Democrats, and Rep. Scott Dieckhaus, a Republican, were the targets of the vandalism.
Wright-Jones said the act sends a message: "It says progressive agendas, it says change in education, it says Democrats, it says black females 'cause half of us were black females — so there was a message there for sure, but stand up, be a man, be a woman and come talk to us about your issues as opposed to leaving stickers."
Sarah Duffey is a reporter with Missouri Digital News.
Karen Miller contributed to this report.