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story.lead_photo.caption About 70 protesters from the group ExpectUs started out at the Capitol on Thursday, making their way down the sidewalks of High Street. The group opposes Gov. Mike Parson's legislative agenda for the ongoing special session to address violent crime in the state. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

For more videos from Thursday's protest, visit the Jefferson City News Tribune's Youtube page.

Protesters returned Thursday to the Capital City for a third time to call for reform in the criminal justice system and to protest Gov. Mike Parson's legislative agenda for a special session.

The rally, called "The People's State of the State-Part III," and organizing group ExpectUS took their message to the streets around the Missouri Capitol from late morning until early afternoon in their third such event in the Capital City.

The group of approximately 70 from across the state started on the lawn near the intersection of Broadway and High streets where they heard from state Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis, and Cori Bush, who ousted longtime U.S. Congressman William Lacy Clay, of St. Louis, in the Democratic primary earlier this month after leading protests following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson.

As he did at a protest last week, Aldridge again called the special session "political rhetoric."

"What we need is reform," he said. "We are done with seeing the current system treat people unfairly."

Aldridge also renewed an earlier call for the Legislature to discuss better education and health care choices, instead of focusing on crime, to make meaningful change in their communities.

"I live in an impoverished community that these measures are targeting, and we are already over-policed while we don't have enough quality jobs to help people get out of poverty," Aldridge said.

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ExpectUS is particularly against two parts of Parson's proposed crime package: eliminating and prohibiting the requirement for St. Louis law enforcement officers to have to live in the city, and requiring courts to determine if a juvenile should be tried as an adult for unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action charges.

On the second point, Aldridge said children as young as 12 would be tried as adults, and Black youth would be targeted.

"They're talking about locking up our babies with potentially mass murderers," he said.

The Missouri Senate passed a substitute of Parson's plan last week, sending it to the House of Representatives. House leaders have broken the Senate bill into individual bills and will discuss those next week in committee. The full House is not scheduled to debate them until Aug. 24.

Bush told the crowd there were no simple fixes to the problems they are facing.

"Ending racial profiling, ending excessive force and make it to where a police officer who is found to have violated these policies is not being able to get a job at another police department," Bush said.

Aldridge and the ExpectUs group said they are non-violent — but they don't say "peaceful" because they are angry and upset at how their communities continue to be treated.

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At the first ExpectUs protest in Jefferson City in late July, eight people were arrested and later charged with misdemeanor peace disturbance and resisting or interfering with an arrest in front of the Governor's Mansion. Members of the group and their supporters said Jefferson City police used unnecessary force to detain the protesters, who had lain in the middle of the street.

Last week, the group stayed on the Capitol grounds, protesting in the Missouri Senate Gallery while the Senate debated as well as in the Rotunda. No arrests were made.

On Thursday, the group went from the Capitol lawn onto High Street near the U.S. Post Office, shouting and singing various chants including: "If we don't get no justice, then they don't get no peace."

A line of Jefferson City police officers stood across High Street near Arris Pizza, and Lt. Pat McCutchen approached the line of protesters asking them to disperse and clear the street, as they had not filed for a parade permit that would allow them to be in the street.

Protesters continued to chant and shout at police, but after a few minutes the protesters got back on the sidewalk and proceeded east on High Street. The group briefly went back out onto the street near High Rise Bakery and again was confronted by officers but eventually returned to the sidewalk.

Officers in vehicles as well as on foot followed the group. When they got to the Cole County Sheriff's Department, the officers on foot went inside the department. The protesters gathered in the Sheriff's Department parking lot and eventually called for the officers to come out and talk with them about police reform as a sign of support, which did not happen.

From there, the protesters walked to the Missouri Governor's Mansion, where they heard from various speakers, including St. Louis resident Gina Torres, whose son, Isaiah Hammett, was killed in June 2017. Torres said he was killed by SWAT members during a raid.

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While the group was at the Governor's Mansion, JCPD and Capitol Police officers stood across the street. After several minutes at the mansion gate, the group came out into Capitol Avenue and many lay down in the street for a short time, before returning to the sidewalk after another round of warnings from police. The group again called for officers to "set an example" for the state by talking with them about reform, but officers did not engage in conversation with the group.

Patsy Johnson, a member of the Jefferson City Human Relations Commission, said of Thursday's event: "This is what our liberties are for and what we need to do as a community. We need resources to address the needs of the communities. Our police force responds to calls, so they meet after the fact. We need to address the root causes of violence so we need to redistribute resources so we can provide more for mental health, affordable housing and economic development."

Jefferson City Police Chief Roger Schroeder on Thursday said: "We just want them to obey the law and follow our lawful orders, given they didn't apply for a parade permit. If they simply do that, there's no issue. It's up to them. They've already blocked traffic on High Street on multiple occasions, so I think, once again, we've displayed exceptional patience."

Before the event wrapped up on the Capitol lawn, Bush told the group: "We didn't come here because we didn't have anything to do today. We didn't come here because we wanted to storm the Capitol or anything like that, and we're not a mob. We came here because we need to see lives changed. We need equality of life. I want my son, they want their family members to come home safe and not worry about whether somebody is going to take their life simply because they have a badge and the other person has Black skin. We have to do better in this community and in this state, and that is on you (Gov. Parson)."

Aldridge said police must be defunded to put the money toward community needs.

"Take away from the problem and add to the solution," he said.

He encouraged people to return Aug. 24 to make sure it's clear the group's voices will not be silenced.

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Aldridge said after the protest that "there's definitely time" for the issues the group is talking about to be addressed in the special legislative session underway.

Parson called the special session to address his anti-violent crime agenda, though other lawmakers have called for police reform and accountability legislation to be included. Parson has said that must wait for regular session, when there would be more time.

Aldridge said Parson has "a perfect opportunity to lead and address systemic issues."

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