Cori Bush was born on July 21, 1976, in St. Louis, Missouri, where she grew up and eventually graduated from Cardinal Ritter College Prep High School in 1994. Her mother has been a computer analyst, and her father, Errol Bush, served as both an alderman and a mayor of Northwoods, Missouri. A 2016 article in the Toledo Blade quoted Cori Bush explaining how much her father had influenced her political views and activities: “Early in his career it was all about social justice, so he taught us that. He took us around. We did all the marches, all the boycotts, but I did it because my father made me.”
Cori Bush studied at Harris–Stowe State University in St. Louis for one year (1995–96) and subsequently worked at a preschool until 2001. She eventually earned a diploma from the St. Louis-based Lutheran School of Nursing in 2008 and became a registered nurse. Bush also became an ordained minister and served three years as pastor of the Kingdom Embassy International Church (KEIC), a St. Louis-area house of worship that she founded in 2011.
In 2014 Bush shifted her principal focus from KEIC to the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, where she became a leading BLM organizer in the St. Louis area. Her embrace of BLM’s agendas was sparked by the death of Michael Brown, a black teenager who tried to assault and disarm a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri and was shot and killed in the process. “Mike Brown happened, and then ministry started right there on the streets,” Bush recalled in a 2016 interview. “That became my ministry.”
Bush later became involved with Mobilize Missouri, an official chapter of Our Revolution, the political organization that grew out of Bernie Sanders’ failed 2016 presidential campaign. Bush also has served variously as an organizer with Ferguson Frontline; a co-director (starting in 2015) of the Truth Telling Project, an initiative that “promotes discussion of structural racism and injustice”; a Nonviolence 365 Ambassador with The King Center; a part of Ferguson’s Women’s Caucus; an organizer with Michael Brown Sr.’s Chosen for Change Foundation; the host of her own Internet radio program titled Grounded; the founder of the Ferguson/St. Louis chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and vice chair of the Missouri Democratic Party Progressive Caucus (2017).
On the afternoon of September 10, 2014, Bush and fellow Black Lives Matter protesters shut down part of the Interstate 70 highway in Missouri while protesting the recent death of Michael Brown. Thirty-two of the protesters were arrested for unlawful assembly, and four were arrested for assaulting law-enforcement officers whom they had pelted with bricks, rocks, chunks of concrete, and glass bottles during a nearly three-hour standoff.
In an October 2016 article in The Hoya, Bush was quoted as saying that she had received a number of violent threats, such as death threats from the Ku Klux Klan. “We keep protesting because they keep killing us,” Bush said. “It’s not OK that I have to fight to be free the way a white woman is free. What makes my son different, that I have to fight for him to be able to walk out of my home and walk to the corner store and come back safely? Why do I have to fear? That is a reality in my community every day. My son may not come home.”
In 2016 Bush ran as a Democratic candidate seeking election to the U.S. Senate from Missouri. She was defeated by Jason Kander in the Democratic primary, however.
In September 2017, Bush helped organize some large, violent Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the St. Louis suburb of University City, protesting the recent acquittal of a white police officer who had shot and killed a heroin dealer following a high-speed car chase six years earlier. “The message is simple: stop killing us,” Bush told The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Black folks say, stop killing us.”
As a result of her activist and political pursuits, Bush was honored with the “Woman of Courage” Award from the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation in 2015; Delux Magazine’s “Power 100” Award in 2016; inclusion in Gazelle Magazine’s list of the ‘Top 50 Women of St. Louis”; the St. Louis Coalition for Human Rights’ “Unsung Human Rights Hero” award in 2017; and the Missouri Association of Black Ministers’ “Community Activist” award in 2018.
Bush ran an unsuccessful campaign for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018. Her bid was supported and endorsed by Brand New Congress and Justice Democrats. She was also backed by Communist Party USA member and former ACORN organizer Glenn Burleigh.
In 2020, Bush made another bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, challenging longtime incumbent William Lacy Clay Jr. in the Democratic primary. Her campaign was supported and endorsed by Brand New Congress and the Democratic Socialists of America. Her platform included such elements as the following: “Supporting a living wage for all Americans and Equal Pay for women and minorities; Expanding Medicaid and reducing the costs for prescription drugs; Fully funding public education and improving the quality of public schools; Fair Policing and Criminal Justice Reform; Eliminating the school to prison pipeline; Tax relief for blue collar workers and small businesses; Eliminating loopholes for corporate tax breaks; Reversing the damage done by Citizens United; Grassroots funding for political campaigns; Stabilizing Social Security for future generations; Mental Health reform aimed at reducing gun violence; Supporting veterans transitioning from deployment to the workforce.”
Bush is a supporter of the anti-Israel “Boycott, Divestment, & Sanctions” (BDS) movement. On one page of her 2020 campaign website, she lamented that BDS had been “mischaracterize[d] and demonize[d] by its opponents.” “I stand by the right of Palestinians to live as a free people just as the people of Israel and we as U.S. citizens are allowed to do,” the page read. “We also stand by their right to call for a boycott on goods and services that the government that is currently oppressing them profits from, in order to draw attention to their plight.”
The same page expressed Bush’s support for the Iran nuclear deal, and her condemnation of “our imperialist foreign policy and the runaway influence of the military-industrial complex.”
Also during her 2020 congressional run, Bush called for much of America’s military budget to be reallocated to healthcare and welfare spending, tweeting: “Militarization makes up 64% of our federal budget” and Medicare & Health are 6%. Education is 5%. Social Security, Unemployment, and Labor together are 3%.”
Also in 2020, Bush served as co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.
After defeating William Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary, Bush, in the general election for a House seat representing Missouri’s overwhelmingly Democratic 1st Congressional District, won 84 percent of all votes, trouncing Republican nominee Anthony Rogers. Bush described her victory as part of a “political revolution.” With her victory, Bush became the fifth member of the far-left, so-called “Squad” of socialist, anti-Semitic Democrats. The original four were Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar, and Ayanna Pressley.
On November 19, 2020, Bush joined Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in a protest outside the Democratic National Committee headquarters, where they called for President Joe Biden to publicly embrace and promote the Green New Deal.
In a November 22, 2020 tweet, Bush, a supporter of the “Defund the Police” movement promoted aggressively by Black Lives Matter, called for “trained, trauma-informed interventionists” – rather than police — to respond to domestic violence calls.
Bush took issue with remarks made by former President Barack Obama during a December 1, 2021 interview with Peter Hamby on an episode of Good Luck America, where Obama pragmatically counseled leftwing activists and fellow Democrats against using the term “Defund the Police” in their public statements: “If you believe, as I do, that we should be able to reform the criminal justice system so that it’s not biased and treats everybody fairly, I guess you can use a snappy slogan like ‘Defund the Police,’ but you know you’ve lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually gonna get the changes that you want done.” Bush reacted to Obama’s remarks with a Twitter post that said: “With all due respect, Mr. President—let’s talk about losing people. We lost Michael Brown Jr. We lost Breonna Taylor. We’re losing our loved ones to police violence. It’s not a slogan. It’s a mandate for keeping our people alive. Defund the police.”
In late November 2020, Bush took aim at what she described as the anti-black “colorism” of Hollywood and the entertainment industry. “Hey Hollywood,” she tweeted on November 22, “Black, melanin-full women with 4C hair, braids, locs, fades, extensions, or relaxed hair are more than capable of playing the LEAD role in holiday movies. Make it happen, we want to see it. We can count how many there are. Your diversity looks like colorism.”
After several hundred demonstrators illegally stormed the U.S. Capitol building in Washington on January 6, 2021 to protest what they viewed as the invalid outcome of the 2020 presidential election, Bush told MSNBC that the police who were guarding the Capitol that day had shown considerable restraint in their treatment of the perpetrators because most of the latter were white. Said the congresswoman: “Had it been people who looked like me, had it been the same amount of people, but had they been black and brown, we wouldn’t have made it up those steps. We wouldn’t have made it to be able to get into the door and bust windows and go put our feet up on desks of Congress members. We wouldn’t have made it that far. We would have been shot. We would have been teargassed, hit with rubber bullets, that would have happened before we made it there. We need to call it what it is. It’s white supremacy. It was white privilege.”
Also on January 6, 2021, Bush tweeted: “I believe the Republican members of Congress who have incited this domestic terror attack through their attempts to overturn the election must face consequences. They have broken their sacred Oath of Office. I will be introducing a resolution calling for their expulsion.”
On January 10, 2021, Bush announced that the very next day, she would be introducing a resolution “to expel the members of Congress who tried to overturn the election and incited a white supremacist coup attempt that has left people dead.”
On January 12 on MSNBC, Bush was asked if Republican lawmakers had acted within the bounds of their legal authority by objecting to the certification of the electors in the presidential race. She answered: “Let’s be clear. This was a racist attempt to overturn an election. This was more about trying to disenfranchise the voters of the Black, Brown, indigenous people’s voices, trying to invalidate our votes because we turned out in large numbers for this election, and to tell us that our votes don’t count, that they don’t matter? That’s another form of voter suppression. … It’s white supremacy at its finest.”
During a January 13, 2021 House debate on impeaching President Trump, Bush said: “The first step in that process is rooting out white supremacy, starting with impeaching the white supremacist-in-chief.”
On January 16, 2021, Bush exhorted her supporters to “Say th[e] names” of 13 prison inmates who had been executed — or, as Bush put it, “murdered by Trump’s death row killing spree” — during President Donald Trump’s four years in office. Her displeasure at Trump’s resumption of federal executions after a nearly 20-year pause was founded on her belief that capital punishment is inherently a racist and unjust practice. The individuals who were executed were:
On February 6, 2021, Bush voiced support for inmates who were rioting inside a St. Louis jail, breaking windows, starting fires, and throwing debris onto the grounds outside the facility. Bush wrote in a tweet that day: “‘A riot is the language of the unheard.’ – Dr. MLK Jr.” “I want to talk to my [prisoner] constituents in the window,” she continued. “Their lives and their rights must be protected. My team and I are working to ensure that the urgent needs of people who are incarcerated are not ignored.”
At a virtual press conference on January 28, 2021, Bush and Senator Ed Markey introduced the “Environmental Justice Mapping and Data Collection Act of 2021,” which called for directing federal funds to communities that allegedly faced “environmental injustices” like pollution, poverty, and police violence. Asserting that “environmental justice is racial justice,” Bush said that a safe environment is about much more than air or water quality: “If we fix those things,” she asked, “but if we continue to have this stressor [sic], this situation, where the police can just murder us disproportionately and without impunity, then did we fix our environment? Is our environment now safe?”
During a February 10, 2021 interview on NBC’s Late Night, Bush called for the implementation of a $15 hourly minimum wage: “You know, we have to start with a $15 an hour minimum wage. It’s the start, like, it should be higher than that right now. But that’s where we are. So, we have to at least give people that. We have people who are making $7.25, $8, $9 an hour trying to live. And some are supporting families. So, that’s unacceptable, not in the United States.”
Bush was one of numerous Democrat signatories to a March 15. 2021 letter written by Rep. Ilhan Omar and addressed to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Domestic Policy Council Director Susan Rice. The letter praised President Joe Biden for his January 26 executive order to phase out the use of private detention facilities, and urged the Biden Administration “to release an additional Executive Order announcing a plan to phase out contracts between ICE and state, county, and local jails and prisons.” Such facilities, the Democrats explained, “mirror the systemic abuses in privately operated immigration detention facilities, including medical neglect, long term use of solitary confinement, sexual assault, and lack of access to legal counsel.” Fellow signers of Omar’s letter included such notables as Reps. Jamaal Bowman, Mark Pocan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Andre Carson, Raul Grijalva, Adriano Espaillat, Pramila Jayapal, Barbara Lee, Alan Lowenthal, Carolyn Maloney, James McGovern, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jan Schakowsky, Nydia Velazquez, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Bonnie Watson Coleman.
On March 16, 2021, Bush called for the abolition of a range of practices and institutions that she said were inherently racist, tweeting: “The death penalty. Private prisons. ICE. The filibuster. All of these uphold and protect white supremacy and need to be abolished.”
On April 14, 2021, the House Judiciary Committee approved Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s bill, H.R. 40, which called for the establishment of a Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans. Regarding Lee’s legislation, Bush tweeted: “Whew, father God. Not me getting lectured to by white Republican Members of Congress at our markup on H.R. 40 … about what it’s like to be Black in America. Not when Daunte Wright was just murdered. Not when my ancestors were enslaved.”
In April 2021, Bush co-sponsored H.R. 2590, the Defending the Human Rights of Palestinian Children Act and Families Living Under Israeli Military Occupation Act, which was introduced by U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota). The bill called for the U.S. to stop sending the Israeli government any funds that could possibly be used “to support the military detention of Palestinian children, the unlawful seizure, appropriation, and destruction of Palestinian property and forcible transfer of civilians in the West Bank, or further annexation of Palestinian land in violation of international law.” Other co-sponsors included such notables as Bobby Rush, Danny Davis, Andre Carson, Ilhan Omar, Mark Pocan, Raul Grijalva, Rashida Tlaib, Ayanna Pressley, Jamaal Bowman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Pramila Jayapal, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jared Huffman, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Chellie Pingree, Judy Chu, Donald Payne, and Donald Beyer.
On April 20, 2021, shortly after the announcement of the jury verdict convicting white policeman Derek Chauvin of having infamously murdered a longtime black criminal named George Floyd in May 2020, Bush told MSNBC’s Joy Reid that the verdict was nothing more than a tiny step in the right direction: “Today was — we saw accountability happen. Today, we saw what we’ve been wanting to see every single time one of us is murdered at the hands of police, but what we really want to see is true justice, which means, life, don’t touch our lives. That’s what we want to see. True justice means that it would have meant that George Floyd would still be alive. It meant — it would mean that Daunte Wright would still be alive. It would mean that Michael Brown would still be here. That’s what true justice is.” Bush then continued: “And let me say this, Joy, I’m so sick and tired of hearing the good cop/bad cop thing. … There should not be any good cops and bad cops. Why is that a discussion? There should be cops. If we’re going to have cops, there should be cops. Let that be that. We don’t go in and say, oh, that’s a good nurse, now, that’s a bad nurse, oh, that’s a good pilot, oh, that’s a bad pilot, that’s a good chef, that’s a bad chef. We don’t do that.”
During an April 23, 2021 appearance on ABC’s The View, Bush called for the reallocation of taxpayer funds from police departments to education, housing, and mental health services. Said the congresswoman:
“So many of us sat by with bated breath wondering what’s going to happen with this [Chauvin] verdict, and we shouldn’t have had to think that. You know, we were thinking, will a police officer be held accountable for his actions for killing another person with a knee on the neck that was actually on camera. We were wondering, like, will that happen? That is not justice in any way. Justice is where people are able to live in this country without there being — without their existence, their very existence, being the color of their skin making them an automatic threat to law enforcement.
“And since we don’t have that in this country and people have been trying to figure it out for so long, you know what, my push is that we defund our police departments. I know people don’t want to hear, ‘Oh, we don’t want to talk about defunding.’ But I want people to be clear about what I mean when I say defunding the police. I’m saying demilitarize. […] When I say defund the police, I’m saying our militarized police forces across this country. I’m saying $150,000 spent on an MRAP or $300,000. I’m saying tear gas and rubber bullets and stockpiling gear. I’m saying noise munitions, all of those things that we have in our police departments that hurt people like us. And I know, because I’m someone who has been hurt by that, by those things. If we remove that and take that money and put into our education system, put it into making sure our unhoused community members are sheltered, put into mental health resources, that’s what we’re saying because that is what is going to make our community safer.
“I’ll say this: Almost a thousand people have been murdered by police, have been killed by police since George Floyd lost his life, almost a thousand. We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect something different.”
On April 29, 2021, Bush released a statement in support of St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones’ call to reallocate $4 million away from the city’s police budget, and into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, victim support services, the Department of Health and Human Services, and legal support to the Civil Rights Enforcement Agency. Said Bush:
“For decades, our city funneled more and more money into our police department under the guise of public safety, while massively underinvesting in the resources that will truly keep our communities safe. […] But even as more and more money has gone into policing, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department continues to be the deadliest police force in the nation, year after year — all while violence in our communities continues to skyrocket. The people have demanded a new approach to community safety — and from the Mayor’s office to the Halls of Congress, we were elected to deliver one. We have a mandate to fully fund our social services. To invest in our communities, not criminalize them. To end police violence. To provide alternatives to police like unarmed mental health professionals or social workers to respond to crisis calls. […] Today’s decision to defund the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is historic. It marks a new future for our city.”
On May 2, 2021, Bush tweeted the following about the massive Black Lives Matter protest movement of the preceding 12 months: “Our communities wouldn’t have needed to spark a national movement to save Black lives if America weren’t racist AF.”
On May 6, 2021, Bush, who spoke in front of the House Oversight and Government Reform Full Committee Hearing about the alleged crisis in black maternal health in the U.S., tweeted that too often, “black birthing people and our babies die because our doctors don’t believe our pain”; “black birthing people” are “subjected to harsh and racist treatment during pregnancy and childbirth”; and “Every day black women die because the system denies our humanity. It denies us patient care.”
During a May 13, 2021 speech on the House floor, Bush praised the late Black Lives Matter (BLM) activist Bassem Masri, a St. Louis-based Palestinian-American who in 2014 had: (a) confronted a group of police officers in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death and told them: “I’m praying for your death, and your death, and your death, and your death”; and (b) tweeted, “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon,” which became a notorious BLM slogan advocating the murder of police officers (“pigs”). Said Cori Bush during her May 13th recollections of Masri: “As a Palestinian, he was ready to resist, to rebel, to rise up with us as our St. Louis community mourned Mike Brown, Jr.’s state-sanctioned murder, and as we demanded an end to the militarized police occupation of our communities.” “Palestinians know what state violence, militarized policing, and occupation of their communities look like,” she added, while also proposing that the funds earmarked for U.S. aid to Israel be used instead to support the black community in St. Louis.
On May 19, 2021, Bush co-sponsored a bill seeking to block the United States from selling arms to Israel. Fellow co-sponsors of the bill included such notables as Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Pramila Jayapal.
While questioning Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a video call on June 7, 2021, Rep. Ilhan Omar said: “We must have the same level of accountability and justice for all victims of crimes against humanity. We have seen unthinkable atrocities committed by the U.S., Hamas, Israel, Afghanistan, and the Taliban.” In response to Omar’s remarks, twelve Jewish Democrat members of the U.S. House criticized the congresswoman for “equating the United States and Israel to Hamas and the Taliban.” Bush came to Omar’s defense, tweeting on June 10: “Stop attacking @IlhanMN. Stop attacking us. I’m not surprised when Republicans attack Black women for standing up for human rights. But when it’s Democrats, it’s especially hurtful. We’re your colleagues. Talk to us directly. Enough with the anti-Blackness and Islamophobia.”
In late June 2021, it was reported that Bush would soon be introducing a bill advocating that police officers be replaced with “community-led first responders” in “mental health emergencies.” The bill sought to establish a Division on Community Safety within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to “focus on supporting those disproportionately criminalized by police” reported NBC News. “What this will do directly is save lives,” Bush asserted. “What we will have done is change the culture, removing their crisis care from one that has to deal with law enforcement to one that actually works with the providers that would take care of them normally, people that understand what they’re facing.” Co-sponsors of the bill included Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Jan Schakowsky, and Pramila Jayapal.
On June 28, 2021, Bush joined protesters from the Sunrise Movement in blocking every entrance to the White House as they demanded that the Biden administration adopt an infrastructure plan prioritizing climate change and the Green New Deal agenda. “We have seen dangerous heat events obliterating the northwest in record numbers, and we see that it’s coming up again over the next few days in places where they don’t even have AC,” Bush said at the rally, also citing the supposedly increasing frequency of natural disasters such as floods in the American Midwest. “People are suffering. People are dying because of our problem that society created. Society created the problem, and so society has to fix it.” Dozens of the protesters were arrested.
In early July 2021, Bush supported Democrat Senator Dick Durbin’s call to eliminate the filibuster in order to empower Democrats to pass their “voting rights” legislation known as H.R. 1, or the “For the People Act,” which sought to radically change American election laws and ultimately nationalize all elections in the country. “It can’t be made any clearer,” said Bush. “Black, brown, and Indigenous people are going to lose their ability to vote for the change that we need to literally save our lives if the Senate doesn’t abolish the filibuster and pass our agenda. We’re tired of waiting. Our lives are on the line.”
On July 4, 2021, Bush condemned America in a tweet that said: “This land is stolen land and Black people still aren’t free.” In a separate tweet, she stated: “We know what our own freedom looks like. End the slavery permitted under the 13th amendment. End the War on Drugs. End police violence. End health care, housing, and education apartheid, WE are the experts on our own liberation. And we won’t stop until it’s won.”
The next day, Bush tweeted: “It’s not a coincidence that the people who are saying Black people have full freedom in our country are the same ones trying to prevent teaching the truth about white supremacy in our classrooms.”
Bush was a co-sponsor of a “Green New Deal for Public Schools Act” bill introduced by Democrat Rep. Jamaal Bowman on July 16, 2021. At a cost of some $1.43 trillion over a ten-year period, the legislation included such provisions as:
Bowman’s bill also called for the creation of an Office of Sustainable Schools within the Department of Education. The Washington Post reported that this office would not only work with the Energy Department to make school buildings more energy efficient, but would also help “cover climate resilience efforts such as building out broadband infrastructure and EV [electric vehicle] charging stations, and garden and tree planting.”
Additional co-sponsors of the Green New Deal for Public Schools Act included Ilhan Omar, Mark Pocan, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Andre Carson, Raul Grijalva, Adriano Espaillat, Pramila Jayapal, Barbara Lee, Alan Lowenthal, Carolyn Maloney, James McGovern, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Jan Schakowsky, Nydia Velazquez, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Frederica Wilson, Juan Vargas, Jamie Raskin, Adriano Espaillat, Nanette Diaz Barragan, Bennie Thompson, Yvette Clarke, Danny Davis, Thomas Suozzi, Tony Cardenas, Jerrold Nadler, Jared Huffman, Steve Cohen, Jose Luis Correa, Ted Lieu, Jimmy Gomez, Sheila Jackson Lee, Chellie Pingree, Grace Napolitano, and Donald Payne Jr.
On August 2, 2021, Bush joined Senator Bernie Sanders, Rep. Ed Markey, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in leading a rally in front of the U.S. Capitol, where they exhorted President Joe Biden to extend the moratorium on evictions of residential renters which had been in place since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. In the course of his remarks, Markey spoke about Woody Guthrie, the writer of the iconic song This Land Is Your Land, lauding him as a “communist” and a “socialist” before proceeding to lead the group in singing that song.
During an interview with CBS on August 4, 2021, Bush responded to those who had criticized her as a hypocrite for advocating the defunding of police while spending some $70,000 of her campaign funds on private security protection for herself during a three-month time period: “You would rather me die? Is that what you want to see? You want to see me die? Because that could be the alternative. So, either I spend $70,000 on private security over the last few months and I’m here standing now and able to speak, able to help save eleven million people from being evicted, or I could possibly have a death attempt on my life. And we’re also talking about the same exact people who say horrible things about me, who lie to get — to build up their base, and then because they lie about me, I receive death threats.”
Added Bush: “I’m going to make sure I have security. Because I know I have had attempts on my life, and I have too much work to do. There are too many people that need help right now for me to allow that. So, if I end up spending 200,000, if I spend ten more dollars on it, you know what, I get to be here to do the work. So, suck it up. And defunding the police has to happen. We need to defund the police and put that money into social safety nets. Because we’re trying to save lives.”
Bush also said: “I have private security because my body is worth being on this planet right now. I have private security because they, the white supremacist racist narrative that they drive into this country. The fact that they don’t care that this black woman that has put her life on the line.”
Bush further stated that she had hired her private security guards to protect her from “actual police officers” who had threatened her life, and “not to keep me safe from the people of St. Louis.”
On October 16, 2021, Fox News updated the amount of money that Bush had theretofore spent on private security for herself:
“Rep. Cori Bush … dropped nearly $65,000 more into private security services over the past three months, campaign filings released [October 15] show. The Missouri Democrat’s campaign spent $64,141.26 on private security between the beginning of July and late September, the Federal Election Commission records show. The cash was dished out to a handful of firms, including Peace Security, RS&T Security Consulting, Aegis Logistics, Whole Armor Executive Protection & Security, and Nathaniel Davis, whose payments are sent to the same address as her campaign headquarters. Bush has now pushed more than $130,000 from her campaign’s coffers into private security services over the past six months.”
In October 2021, Bush co-signed a petition demanding that Missouri governor Mike Parson commute the death sentence that had been handed down to 61-year-old Ernest Lee Johnson, a black, convicted triple-murderer who in 1994 had brutally killed three general-store workers during a late-night robbery. His victims were 46-year-old Mary Bratcher, a single white mother of three children; 57-year-old Mable Scruggs, also a single white mother; and 58-year-old Fred Jones, an African-American man who was the only caregiver for his elderly mother and disabled brother. After a binge in which he had purchased three rocks of crack cocaine and traded one of them for a gun, Johnson killed all three victims by repeatedly smashing them over the head with a claw hammer; he also stabbed Bratcher multiple times and shot Jones in the head.
After a series of lengthy delays, Johnson was finally executed on October 5, 2021. On October 1, Bush and fellow Democrat Representative Emanuel Cleaver co-wrote a letter to Governor Parson in which they said:
“Mr. Johnson is a son, a brother, an uncle, and a dear friend to many. […] Mr. Johnson’s mother lived with an alcohol and drug addiction, which resulted in Mr. Johnson being diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). He faces his suffering and trials with humor. He also loves food, especially pizza, hamburgers and ice cream. […] According to Kelly D. Watts, spiritual advisor to Mr. Johnson, ‘Ernest Johnson is perhaps one of the purest of heart human beings I have ever had the blessing of meeting … Ernest is a gentle, kind, loving man.’
“Mr. Johnson’s execution would be a grave act of injustice. Mr. Johnson ‘meets all statutory and clinical definitions’ of intellectual disability. The Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits executing intellectually disabled people. […] In addition, killing those who lack the intellectual ability to conform their behavior to the law is morally and legally unconscionable. Furthermore, Johnson was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2008 and underwent brain tissue removal, according to court records. Scar tissue from the removal will likely cause him painful seizures after he is injected with pentobarbital, a seizure-inducing medication [administered just prior to execution]. For all of these reasons, we are staunch in our belief that Mr. Johnson should be granted clemency […]
“We must move our country towards accountability and healing. In order to do so, we must first acknowledge the moral depravity of executions. The fact of the matter is that these death sentences are not about justice. They are about who has institutional power and who doesn’t. Like slavery and lynching did before it, the death penalty perpetuates cycles of trauma, violence and state-sanctioned murder in Black and brown communities.”
On August 25, 2020 — during a violent Black Lives Matter/Antifa riot which followed an incident where a white Kenosha, Wisconsin police officer had shot and permanently disabled a knife-wielding black criminal named Jacob Blake — Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old white youth from Antioch, Illinois, drove to Kenosha, where his father resided, with the intent of: (a) helping to prevent further vandalism in that city, and (b) providing medical aid to people injured in the melee. At the scene of the unrest, Rittenhouse was armed with a semi-automatic rifle that had been purchased (with his money) and held for him by his friend Dominick Black, a resident of Kenosha. When white rioter and Kenosha resident Joseph Rosenbaum — who had spent 15 years in prison for multiple child molestation convictions that included anal rape — chased Rittenhouse, threatened to kill him, and tried to take away his rifle, Rittenhouse fatally shot Rosenbaum. While subsequently being chased by a crowd of approximately a dozen rioters, Rittenhouse ran down a street toward police vehicles, in hopes that the officers might protect him from his pursuers. But the fleeing Rittenhouse tripped and fell to the ground, at which point he was struck on the head by a 39-year-old white man who jump-kicked him. Then, while Rittenhouse was still on the ground, white Silver Lake resident Anthony Huber — a domestic abuse repeater and an ex-convict who in 2013 had pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts of strangulation, suffocation, and false imprisonment — struck him on the head and neck with a skateboard and attempted to pull away his rifle, at which point Rittenhouse killed Huber with a single gunshot to the chest. And when white West Allis resident Gaige Grosskreutz — who had a long arrest history that included multiple misdemeanors and felonies — then approached the fallen Rittenhouse and pointed a handgun directly at him, Rittenhouse shot him once in the right arm, wounding but not killing the man. Rittenhouse was subsequently tried on six criminal charges which included homicide, reckless endangerment, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18. A large number of leftists portrayed him as a racist, Trump-supporting white vigilante who had recklessly fired his gun at “social justice” and “racial justice” demonstrators in Kenosha.
After a jury found Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts on November 19, 2021, Bush tweeted: “The judge. The jury. The defendant. It’s white supremacy in action. This system isn’t built to hold white supremacists accountable. It’s why Black and brown folks are brutalized and put in cages while white supremacist murderers walk free. I’m hurt. I’m angry. I’m heartbroken.”