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8 arrested during protest in Jefferson City; police use pepper balls on demonstrators

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Eight people were taken into custody during a largely peaceful demonstration in front of the Governor’s Mansion Thursday afternoon. Jefferson City police officers shot pepper balls at the protestors during the arrests. 

The protest was organized by a group called Expect Us and state Rep. Rasheen Aldridge. Aldridge, a Democrat who represents HD 78, said they were demonstrating against the special session called to address violent crime and wanted to advocate for what they believe would address the “root cause” of violence, such as better educational opportunities and an increased minimum wage. 

The group of about 40 demonstrators marched around downtown Jefferson City before standing on the sidewalk in front of the Governor’s Mansion. They then participated in a “die-in” on Capitol Avenue. 

Police allowed the demonstrators to stay in the street for a few minutes before instructing them to get back on the sidewalk. As demonstrators were moving back to the sidewalk by the Governor’s Mansion, police began to make arrests and deployed pepper balls.

Lt. David Williams, a public information officer for the Jefferson City police, confirmed the use of pepper balls and the number of arrests. 

In a press release, the Jefferson City Police Department said: “After multiple commands were given to the participants, the order to clear the roadway was given. The participants blocked the roadway at three different locations prior to an arrest being made.”

Police said arrests were made “for violations of unlawful assembly and resisting/interfering with an arrest.” Only one of the eight taken into custody was a “local resident,” police said.

Protesters staged a “die-in” during Thursday’s demonstration. (THE MISSOURI TIMES/KAITLYN SCHALLHORN)

Aldridge said many of the protestors, such as himself, traveled from the St. Louis area. Others came from Springfield. (Aldridge was not one of those arrested Thursday.) 

In an interview with The Missouri Times, Aldridge said the police were “over-aggressive” and maintained those in his group were attempting to follow their instructions “when [officers] started snatching people.” 

Police arrested eight people during what was a largely peaceful demonstration Thursday. (THE MISSOURI TIMES/KAITLYN SCHALLHORN)

Lawmakers have been called back to the capital city for a special session on violent crime. The bill being considered includes an end to residency requirements for St. Louis police officers and other public safety personnel, certification to try certain juveniles as adults, witness statement admissibility, creation of a pre-trial witness protection fund, modification of the offense of endangering a child, and an increased penalty for illegally transferring a firearm to a minor. 

Many Democrats, including Aldridge, take issue with certain portions of the bill — particularly the juvenile certification portion.