Dozens were arrested Wednesday afternoon during an attempted act of civil disobedience in north St. Louis County. Prior to the demonstration, protest organizers said they wanted a special prosecutor appointed for the county’s investigation into the death of Michael Brown. The goal was to shut down Interstate 70 at Hanley Road, but a strong police presence prevented demonstrators from reaching their goal.
Groups of demonstrators attempted to access Interstate 70 via the eastbound Hanley Road entrance ramp, but they were pushed back by a line of police that stretched across the overpass from exit ramp to entrance ramp.
“Do not block traffic on Hanley Road or you will be arrested,” warned police over their speaker. “This also applies to the media.”
Demonstrators were pushed back from the entrance ramp onto a median, some breaking free of the crowd and running before being tackled and arrested by police.
At one point the crowd dared to step on the road and circle the median, but police soon pushed demonstrators off the median and onto either side of Hanley Road.
As police advanced towards the crowd, they added another warning to the mix: disperse or be arrested. Despite the warning, no one was arrested unless they stepped on the road. Still, with movement at a standstill, protest organizer Eric Vickers called for the protest to move to the Ferguson Police Station. He said they had succeeded in blocking Hanley Road, even if it was the police who did most of the blocking.
According to St. Louis County Police spokesman Brian Schellman, 35 were arrested on Hanley Road Wednesday afternoon. Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis President Michael McMillan was among them. Prior to his arrest, McMillan said personal and professional sacrifice was needed in order to ensure everyone in the region had a seat at the table.
“Unfortunately we have documented proof that that is not the case,” he said. “So we have to take some concrete, measurable steps to do that, and today’s activity is an act of civil disobedience to bring attention to all of these wrongs that have transpired.”
News outlets later reported via Twitter that pop-up highway shutdowns occurred in other parts of St. Louis, including Interstate 64 near the St. Louis Science Center.
Follow Camille Phillips on Twitter: @cmpcamille.