Occupy protesters arrested at bridge in St. Louis

By JIM SALTER

Associated Press

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Police arrested at least a dozen Occupy St. Louis protesters after they attempted to block the entrance to a Mississippi River bridge on the two-month anniversary of the Occupy movement.

Officers standing side-by-side were waiting on several hundred protesters when the throng arrived at the Martin Luther King Bridge shortly after 4 p.m. Thursday. About 15 to 20 protesters then sat down cross-legged, with their arms locked.

Reporters watched as officers moved in and arrested at least a dozen of the protesters when they refused to move. They offered no resistance.

The crowd of protesters included labor unions and other sympathizers who marched from Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis to the bridge.

Members of Occupy St. Louis had camped in Kiener Plaza for several weeks before early Saturday, when police took down the tents and arrested 27 demonstrators for curfew violation. A federal judge this week refused to overturn the evictions.

The King bridge is one of four Mississippi River crossings at downtown St. Louis, connecting the city to Illinois. The arrests came just as afternoon rush hour was getting started, creating delays for commuters trying to get in or out of downtown. Several streets were blocked off to protect protesters as they marched.

In Kansas City, about 50-60 Occupy protesters gathered on a busy bridge over Interstate 70, carrying banners and calling on government to scrap plans to add a toll to the highway.

The St. Louis protest was among several nationwide marking the two-month anniversary of the movement’s birth in New York. Most are protesting economic issues, particularly high corporate profits and income inequality.

Occupy St. Louis members said the bridge was chosen as a symbol of public infrastructure in dire need of repair — work they said that would not only improve infrastructure but create hundreds of jobs for the unemployed and underemployed. It was also chosen because of its name, Occupy St. Louis member Colleen Kelly said.

“Civil disobedience was an important part of what Dr. Martin Luther King did,” she said.

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