Two Missouri men were arrested Saturday for failing to comply with police after they were asked by highway patrolmen to move a rally to impeach President Barack Obama from an overpass, where it allegedly caused five minor traffic accidents.
Marc S. Messmer, 41, and Jimmy D. "Duane" Weed, 57, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch they believe the arresting officers violated their constitutional rights.
"Citizens have a right to peaceably assemble," said Messmer, who was part of a series of overpass demonstrations around the country seeking the president's impeachment. "We were simply doing that. There were no laws broken."
However, in a video of the incident, officers explained to Messmer and Weed the protest itself wasn’t the problem, but rather where it was being conducted. Officers simply wanted Messmer and Weed to relocate from the overpass to a place where they wouldn’t be distracting drivers.
Sgt. Al Nothum, a spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol, told the Post-Dispatch the potential for a traffic hazard was why Messmer, Weed and about 10 other protesters were told by officers to leave the Fairgrounds Road overpass about 2 p.m.
Nothum also said the traffic volume on I-70 was unusually heavy Saturday because of the many drivers heading to a nearby festival, and noted the patrol did not take action against similar overpass protests Saturday because traffic in those areas wasn't as heavy.
Messmer told the Post-Dispatch he hopes enough attention will let officials "see the errors of their ways" and drop the charges, which Weed said he thinks will happen.