Protesters Lose Appeal Against Police Ordinance

525234871so00058-grand-juryBy MCNS Staff

Local reports indicate that a state appellate court has ruled against two protesters who challenged an ordinance in St. Louis County that allows police to arrest anyone who interferes with police work “in any manner whatsoever.”

The ordinance has been used to arrest hundreds of protesters since demonstrations against police brutality and unjust court systems began after the fatal shooting of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown in 2014 by White former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. The subsequent grand jury hearing resulted in a non-indictment of Wilson and ramped up protests.

Rev. Melissa Bennett and audiologist Koach Baruch Frazier, both from University City, were arrested in 2014 during a demonstration outside the Ferguson police station. They later sued the county, county Counselor Peter Krane and then-Attorney General Chris Koster, arguing the ordinance was unconstitutional.

Part of their argument to the court was that the language was too vague, and that it leaves too much of the determination of whether a person has obstructed or interfered with police work to cops’ discretion. The openness of the ordinance mirrors a controversial police policy that leaves use of deadly force also up to “police discretion.”

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