Police on Tuesday night were arresting all protesters on Jefferson Avenue and Market Street in St. Louis, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department tweeted.
One-by-one, after protesters were ordered to sit on the ground, police began placing each one under arrest, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Nassim Benchaabane tweeted.
This mass arrest came after protesters blocked traffic on eastbound Interstate 64 under the Compton overpass, completely stopping traffic on the highway.
Toward the end of a livestream posted by one of the protesters, an officer can be heard telling a woman that she is under arrest because she was on the highway.
SLMPD tweeted that protesters drove onto I-64 from Kingshighway and exited their cars, shutting down the highway.
Police tweeted again at 7:43 p.m., saying arrests would be made if the demonstrators did not disperse.
Earlier this week, a bill was filed by 15th Ward Alderman Megan Green to repeal St. Louis’ existing ordinance on unlawful assemblies to make it clearer on what is legal and what is not, the Post-Dispatch reported. This has become an issue in recent weeks due to the protests after former police officer Jason Stockley, an Althoff High School graduate, was found not-guilty of first-degree murder in the December 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.
The changes would help protect participants in future demonstrations, Green said, and would hold police accountable. Her bill outlines exactly where people can protest: “On the streets, sidewalks, and other public ways, and in the parks in the city, and to engage in assemblies near the object of their protest so they may be seen and heard, subject to reasonable restrictions designed to protect public safety, persons, and property, and to accommodate the interest of persons not participating in the assemblies to use the streets, sidewalks, and other public ways.”
The bill would also require officers to issue dispersal orders only if a significant number of people fail to listen, are violent or destructive or if the mayor declares a public safety emergency, the Post-Dispatch reported. Officers also couldn’t use chemical agents on groups who failed to disperse, only on those causing injury to others.