Long-time St. Louis activist Anthony Shahid will lead protesters across Interstate 70 today, shutting down the highway to protest the lack of a special prosecutor on the Michael Brown court case.
Protesters plan to meet at 3 p.m. at Hanley Road and then block the highway.
"It is going to cause people some discomfort, it is going to cause inconvenience to people," says Eric Vickers, one of the organizers of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition, about the highway protest. "That is a small price to pay to change the conditions for African American youth, and it is a very small price to pay to bring justice to Michael Brown. The Wednesday civil-disobedience action will be the start of a direct action campaign that will continue and will escalate until our demands are met."
Protesters tried to shut down the highway last week, but Brown's family asked to postpone.
St. Louis Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCullough, who is currently handling the local criminal prosecution of Darren Wilson, the Ferguson Police officer who shot and killed Brown in August, has refused to step down from the case despite repeated calls from Ferguson protesters for his removal. Now that Governor Jay Nixon has called off the state of emergency in Ferguson, he has no authority to name a new prosecutor in the Brown case.
But that hasn't stopped protesters, especially the newly formed Don't Shoot Coalition, from demanding a new prosecutor. Many have questioned McCullough's objectivity since his father, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty by a black man when McCullough was twelve years old.
McCullough has repeatedly denied -- both now and back in 2000, when this issue popped up -- that his father's death makes him unreasonably biased. When undercover officers killed two unarmed black men in 2000, he told the St. Louis Post Dispatch: "My father was killed many, many years ago, and it's certainly not something you forget, but it's certainly not something that clouds my judgment in looking at a case. It certainly makes you more aware of the severity of it."
County Executive Charlie Dooley called for McCullough to step down from the investigation last month after he criticized Nixon's decision to transfer control of police response in Ferguson from the St. Louis County Police Department to the Missouri State Highway Patrol.
"Rather than stay focused on the investigation, the prosecuting attorney decided to wade over into a whole other area and challenge the governor," Dooley's spokeswoman Pat Washington told the Washington Post. "He inflamed the community, which already distrusts him."
McCullough was the architect of Dooley's loss to challenger Steve Stenger in the Democratic primary. Stenger now faces Republican candidate Rick Stream for the county executive seat.
Brown supporters say they'll escalate civil-disobedience actions, including blocking highways, until their demands are met.
"I have every confidence that, come Wednesday, Anthony [Shahid] is going to make sure that highway is shut down," Vickers says.