Police begin releasing protesters from I-64 shutdown

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ST. LOUIS - A protest that led to the shutdown of I-64 Tuesday night resulted in 143 arrests for trespassing, according to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.

Some of those arrested were released Wednesday afternoon.  A crowd of protestors gathered outside the St. Louis Justice Center to show support for those who were jailed overnight.  Some said they should not have been sent to jail.

Jordan Chariton is an on-line journalist with The Young Turks and said he is in St. Louis covering the protests after covering news in other parts of the country.

“When we told them, you know freedom of the press that we’re covering it they just handcuffed us and then they started arresting the protestors,” said Chariton.

Steven Hoffmann is a legal observer who was arrested.  Legal observers wear green hats and shirts and monitor police activity.  They have been a regular presence at protests following the not guilty ruling in the Jason Stockley murder trial.

“My arrest was totally inappropriate because there was no probable cause to make my arrest,” said Hoffmann.

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department released a statement reading, “Our officers are committed to ensuring every citizen’s First Amendment rights, however, they are equally committed to enforcing the laws of the City of St. Louis.  Blocking traffic on the highway is not only dangerous, it is illegal.”

State Rep. Bruce Franks, Jr., (D) St. Louis, was among those arrested.  He believes some officers used excessive force in making arrests Tuesday night.

“Until there’s change, they can expect us.  They can know that we’ll be out here.  They can know that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that we are more energized than we have been,” Franks said. “For those folks who think we’ll get tired, they’ll get tired before we do.”