Two men were arrested Saturday at an “Overpass for Obama’s Impeachment” protest after they refused to comply with requests from the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
Law enforcement officials were called out to an overpass of Interstate 70 in St. Charles County, Mo., after a patrol officer became concerned that protesters were distracting motorists.
Officers believe the "Impeach Obama" protest caused five minor traffic accidents.
State Troopers repeatedly asked Marc Messmer, 41, and Jimmy Weed, 57, to disperse and move the "Impeach Obama" rally elsewhere.
Messmer and Weed refused to leave, invoking their First Amendment right to free speech. State troopers explained that the protest was creating a public hazard.
The protesters offered to move farther down the road but officers insisted they exit the overpass entirely.
“What gives you the authority to order me around on a public sidewalk?” Weed can be heard asking in a video of the incident.
“Do you recognize that I’m a peace officer? I asked you and told you that you need to leave,” the officer said.
The two men refused to exit the overpass and were soon arrested. Messmer and Weed claim they were held for 24 hours in a holding cell:
Law enforcement officials said that particular strip of highway was experiencing higher traffic volume due to a nearby festival and that the protest had become a public hazard.
Sgt. Al Nothum, a spokesman for the Missouri Highway Patrol, said the patrol supervisor at the scene of the protest "was concerned people [were] going to be distracted."
"People are looking up when they should be looking forward," Nothum said, referring to motorists who could have been distracted by the protest.
Nothum added that that similar "impeach" protests in the area went without a hitch because those protests didn’t complicate highway traffic.
The patrol is considering filing charges against Messmer for resisting arrest but has not yet filed any of the paperwork, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Prosecutors haven’t decided what to do with the case.
Messmer, for his part, said he hopes the officers “see the errors of their ways” and drop any charges they may be considering.
"Citizens have a right to peaceably assemble," said Messmer. "We were simply doing that. There were no laws broken."
Weed says they plan to return to the overpass this Saturday to continue their protest.
"We're doing this to drum up more support for our cause," he said.
Here’s the original video of the incident:
This past weekend saw an unusually high number of "Overpasses For Obama’s Impeachment" protests, including one held in Carson City, Nev.:
There was another in Millersville, Md.:
And yet another in Santa Clara, Calif.:
You can see more protest photos here.
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Featured image screen grab.