Interstate Blockade Essay, Research Paper
Civil Disobedience is defined as the refusal to obey governmental demands or commands especially as a nonviolent and usually collective means of forcing concessions from the government.
On July 13th, 1999, more than three hundred minority construction workers, successfully demonstrated civil disobedience. The posse managed to block both directions of Interstate-70, during the Monday morning rush hour traffic. High level activists, Jim Buford and Al Sharpton joined the St. Louis construction workers, in their effort to force concessions from the government.
They demanded more minority contracts and additional training programs for minority youth. The turning point came upon discovering how few minority contractors were awarded work, through government contracts. Specifically, work repairing Interstate-70 through north St. Louis.
While most of the posse pleaded guilty to blocking traffic and disobeying police, four members including, Rev. Al Sharpton, chose to plead not guilty . By pleading not guilty they would be standing up for their right to protest and expected to be cleared of all charges, upon trial.
Sharpton along with the three men, reported to court Monday, December 11th, in St. Louis, before Circuit Court Judge John Garvey. Garvey dismissed the three men on the basis that the city has up to one year to pursue charges against them. Instead the court focused on the charges against Rev. Al Sharpton. His defense was that he thought he was participating in a legal protest because police escorted them onto the highway. The St. Louis Post Dispatch quoted Sharpton justifying his defense by declaring that he would not have wore his good suit had he known he would go to jail.
On the contrary, witnesses testified that police gave orders to clear the highway. Judge Garvey told one defense lawyer that a real emergency must exist to allow the blocking of traffic on an interstate.
Those who initially pleaded guilty received community service. Al Sharpton, on the other hand, was found guilty of impeding traffic and disobeying police orders. He was ordered to pay a six hundred dollar fine. Sharpton is considering an appeal.
Overall, the end justified the means. The late governor Mel Carnahan must have been moved into action. The state temporarily supports a new Construction Readiness Training Center in Wellston. The program is planned to operate (permanently) in North St. Louis.