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Six arrested in St. Louis protest
SIX PROTESTERS ARRESTED AT SHELL PROTEST ON NOV. 8
As part of a series of activities marking the second execution of Ken
Saro-Wiwa and eight other Ogoni martyrs, the ST. Louis Support Committee
for MOSOP demonstrated at a Shell station on Saturday, Nov. 8th from noon
- 2 pm. The protest was at a Shell station where three activists had been
arrested last year in October. After that arrest, the ACLU agreed to
represent the activists, the charges were dropped, an an agreement
negotiated with the lawyer for the police department that protesters were
allowed to leaflet in traffic during a red light and would move to the
sidewalk when the light changed so as not to impede traffic or endanger
Shortly after protesters arrived at the Shell station this past Saturday,
they were met by the same police officers who arrested them a year before.
THe police warned the activists not to go out in the streets or they would
be arrested for "soliciting." Activists argued that they were not
soliciting but passing out information. When negotiations between the
activists and the police went nowhere, the ACLU lawyer was called. He
pointed out that at the next major intersection, there were people who
were actually soliciting out in the street, collecting money for a church
organization, and they weren't being arrested. Our group was NOT
soliciting and was being harrassed. He also pointed out that the mayor of
St. Louis, who was the former chief of police, was seen recently
participating in the Old Newsboys Day, when people pass out papers in the
middle of intersections once a year.
The police were unconvinced, so, with a lawyer, photographer, and reporter
present, several activists decided to exercise their first amendment
right. They moved into the intersection and handed out leaflets during the
red light. Six were arrested and brought to jail where they were charged
with soliciting. They posted $100 bonds each and were released with a Dec.
15 court date. The lawyer advises that the charges will most likely be
dropped and there will be an excellent case to sue the police department.
Sitting in a cold cell, though only for a few hours and in the best of
circumstances, the activists had a chance to reflect on the reasons for
the protest in the first place. As they sat in a St. Louis cell, 20 Ogoni
environmentalists were sitting in a Port Harcourt jail, undergoing
torture, being denied medical treatment, awaiting a trial they know will
be unfair, awaiting--possibly--their own execution. Four thousand
political prisoners languish in Nigerian jails, former government
officials, union leaders, journalists, human rights activists, writers,
The struggle continues!
For more information, contact Mira Tanna, (314) 862-5773.