Detained Women's March participant sues City claiming St. Louis Code rule is unconstitutional

By Charmaine Little | Dec 9, 2018

ST. LOUIS — A woman arrested for failing to comply with an officer’s orders during the 2017 Women’s March in St. Louis has sued the city in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

Jessica Langford was taken into custody and detained for nine hours for allegedly violating the St. Louis Code, which “criminalizes the impedance of traffic and the failure to obey an order of a police officer without providing an allowance for expressive activity on a street or sidewalk under any circumstances,” according to the lawsuit.

Langford filed the lawsuit against the City of St. Louis on Dec. 6 claiming that the law under which she was arrested was unconstitutional and too vague in light of the First Amendment and the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.

She asked the court to grant a preliminary or permanent injunction that would block the statute from being enforced. She also asked for a declaration that the ordinance goes against the constitution.

Langford sued for nominal and compensatory damages as well as legal fees include attorney costs.

Langford had been one of roughly 13,000 people who took part in the peaceful protest just days after President Donald Trump was sworn into office.

Beginning at Union Station and making a stop at Luther Ely Smith Square before heading back to Union Station again, the St. Louis protest was a local version of a nationwide protest in which millions participated.

This protest did not have a permit because the city does not issue permits for any protests.

Langford was marching on Market Street when an officer ordered protestors to move from the street to the sidewalk because the street was blocked to vehicular traffic. Some protestors complied, but Langford refused.

In her lawsuit, she claimed she had been less than two feet away from the sidewalk and would not have been blocking traffic.

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