Protesters Threaten To Block St. Louis Interstate
July 20, 1999
Protesters who blocked I-70 in St. Louis during rush hour a couple weeks ago are threatening to hit another highway tomorrow.
Organizers of a July 12 blockade of about 300 people have called for action tomorrow on U.S. Highway 40/Interstate 64 if their demands for more use of minority contractors on highway construction projects are not met.
More than 100 people were arrested in the earlier protest for impeding the flow of traffic and failing to obey a police officer. In June, 31 demonstrators were arrested during a protest on Taylor Avenue bridge over I-70. Organizers hope for 1,000 or more demonstrators at the proposed protest, but talks are ongoing with the governor's office in an attempt to avert the highway blockade.
The protesters want 25% of the contract work to go to minority-based businesses and 35% of the work force to be minority workers. Two of the disputed I-70 contracts were awarded when federal law required states to ensure 10% of the work go to minority- and women-owned firms, according to the highway department. More than 14% of the subcontracting work on the two projects has gone to minority-owned companies.