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Group: Local Ordinance Won't Stop Monsanto Protests

PHOTO: The group "March Against Monsanto" insists it won't be silenced by a new local ordinance that effectively removes a popular spot used for past protests. Photo courtesy Susie Chasnoff, March Against Monsanto.
PHOTO: The group "March Against Monsanto" insists it won't be silenced by a new local ordinance that effectively removes a popular spot used for past protests. Photo courtesy Susie Chasnoff, March Against Monsanto.
May 14, 2014

ST. LOUIS - Although they could now face misdemeanor charges, the St. Louis chapter of a global organization that opposes genetically modified foods says it will continue holding protests outside the world headquarters of agribusiness giant Monsanto.

In the past, the group has used a median on the road outside the suburban complex as a spot to hold signs and distribute pamphlets. This week, however, the Creve Coeur City Council voted unanimously to forbid that practice.

Susie Chasnoff, St. Louis organizer for "March Against Monsanto St. Louis," said she feels the new rule is more about the flow of free speech than traffic.

"The police already have the legal authority to ensure safety on the median," she said, "so I don't think they needed an extra layer of law."

During an October protest which drew about 700 people, police said some of the activity from the median spilled onto the streets. Chasnoff said March Against Monsanto's protest scheduled for May 24 still will take place as planned, with protesters using the shoulder of the road.

The St. Louis march is one of dozens taking place across the globe on May 24, with activists calling for the permanent boycott of genetically modified organisms and other agri-chemicals. Chasnoff said the protests always had been peaceful, which is why she finds the new local ordinance disturbing.

"Our constitutional rights have been further and further minimized," she said, "and I see this as another step in that process."

The new ordinance reclassifies the medians, declaring them to be part of the road. Police say the ordinance was not requested by Monsanto, and insist it is simply a safety issue.

More information is online at march-against-monsanto.com.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO