Wednesday’s St. Louis City Hall Protest Fail

Both the City of St. Louis and Ferguson Decision Protestors need to get their act together. Both failed at Wednesday’s St. Louis City Hall Protest.

We knew there were going to be protestors in Downtown St. Louis. Protests in Downtown are not new. Protests at our court buildings and City Hall are not new. Some of us have participated in protests, including Ferguson related marches. Nobody at work thought much of it. Been there. Done that. And so we went about our work.

11:30 am: I saw four employees, first lunch shift in our office, leave the office with coats on.

11:33 am: I saw the four employees come back into the office.

11:35 am: We were told City Hall was on Lockdown because of protestors. Customers could not come in. We could not leave.  If we had ordered delivery lunch, tough break. The gates to the Tucker entrance were closed

11:38 am: Employees noted that Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce had posted a positive Tweet about the protestors.

So we were on Lockdown during a peaceful protest. Brilliant.

11:45 am: Some employees went to check out the scene from a window of the east side of the building. Peaceful protest. Nice size group. Traffic shut down. Some signs. Some yelling. No big deal. We had no clue as to what protestors had done to cause a Lockdown. It was all very peculiar.

12:11 pm: St. Louis Police Department tweeted they were at City Hall and had made arrests.

1:12 pm: City Employees received an email from Mayor Slay- “Dear City Employees, In celebration of our National Day of Thanksgiving,  all City departments may be reduced to a skeleton crew at 2:00 p.m. this afternoon.  Please check with your supervisor before leaving. As you know, we have had boisterous but peaceful demonstrators downtown, today.  There was a small skirmish at City Hall around noon, but there were no injuries nor property damage.  Thank you for your patience.”

That’s when we knew Lockdown would be over by 2 pm in order to let employees out of the building. As for the “small skirmish,” we were clueless.

Nothing about the Lockdown made any sense to us.

Two videos shed some light on that day’s actions by the City and protestors.

The first video shows peaceful protest activity and that City Hall was closed by the time protestors showed up. That’s an important fact. Lockdown did not occur because of something protestors did at City Hall. It was preemptive. As a big fan of the First Amendment, this does not sit well with me. I have no inside information on why this happened. But I firmly believe City Hall belongs to the People during regular business hours. You can be bounced out for all sorts of reasons, and I’m good with most of that. But admission is for everyone. The City should have a damn great reason for keeping citizens out. I hope Media finds out what that great reason is, or who is to blame if it was a mistake, and reports on it.

The video also shows the protest moved to the south side of City Hall and its closed doors. Inside, we had no idea there was any activity at the south entrance.

The second video shows protestors rushing, charging, pushing, however you want to describe some very aggressive movement, to get past two City Marshals and into City Hall.

Since when is rushing, charging, or pushing law enforcement officers considered nonviolent protest? You never, ever, never, never, never, never make aggressive physical contact with a law enforcement officer. Never. I don’t know who came up with this idea that it is OK but it’s not OK.

Protest is not supposed to be comfortable. Totally with the Movement on that point. I was protesting long before some of today’s protestors were even born. I have participated in Ferguson protest marches. I believe in the power of nonviolent protest. This specific activity at City Hall by a few protestors on Wednesday, however, is something different, something I cannot support.

You do not have a First Amendment Right to touch someone who does not want to touched. No means No, in sex and in protest.

But the City of St. Louis is not without fault on this occasion. Based on the information I have right now, City Hall should not have been closed. Once it was closed, however, the door should not have been opened. No good was going to come from opening it. Marshals knew there was a crowd of protestors at the door. Had the door not been opened, the entire incident would not have happened.

I am disappointed with the Movement and the City. Both have written textbook examples on how not to conduct a protest and how not to respond to a protest. I have called this protest a Disaster because everyone has had long enough to figure how to do this right and, yet, it went wrong.

– Marie Ceselski


Poll: How’s Jay Doing?

Drinking Liberally Nov. 19th Election Postmortem Happy Hour

dlflyer1As the new host of Drinking Liberally St. Louis, I’d like to invite left-leaners to our 6:30-9 pm Wednesday, November 19th General Election Postmortem Happy Hour at Sassy JACs, 1730 S 8th, in historic Soulard.

We’ll enjoy cocktails and conversation about the November 4th local, state, federal candidates and ballot results- Missouri and Illinois.

No Admission Fee. Cash Bar & Food.

Attendance Prize Drawing for Appetizers and Beer/Wine.

Please write down, on a small piece of paper, an election result you’d like to lead a discussion on and bring it with you. We’ll be drawing topics out of a basket. Everyone who contributes a topic to the basket gets an extra attendance prize ticket.

We need to have a head count for seating, so please RSVP to

Co-sponsor for this event is 7th Ward Independent Democrats.

Drinking Liberally is a nonpartisan, informal, inclusive, progressive social group for like-minded, left-leaning individuals. Drinking Liberally does not endorse candidates or ballot issues.

In December, we’ll have a St. Louis Political Trivia Happy Hour.

In January, we’ll have our social on whatever night the State of the Union is set.

In February, we’ll have a Mardi Gras Happy Hour.

Bookmark our Drinking Liberally chapter page for other particulars.

– Marie Ceselski

Poll: Local Tobacco Taxes

Poll: Should Marijuana be legalized in Missouri?

Wednesday, Show Me Cannabis- Missourians for Cannabis Policy Reform– filed papers with the Missouri Secretary of State for an initiative petition to place marijuana legalization on the 2016 ballot. Riverfront Times story.


And Now A Few Words About The Rights Of Recorder Employees

There seems to be confusion among some elected officials, including Democratic City Central Committeepersons, regarding the rights of Recorder of Deeds employees.

Recorder of Deeds employees who are whistleblowers have the right to sue if we are retaliated against. We can sue for retaliation against reporting wrongdoing and violations of law or public policy. We can sue for retaliation against refusal to perform an illegal act or act contrary to public policy.

Recorder of Deeds employees are not at-will employees. We can be fired for cause and only cause. Sharon Carpenter is not coming back to power and punishing everyone who did not remain “loyal” to her. She can try, but she won’t win. And it will be very costly for her.

Recorder employees cannot be fired for our politics. Not yet anyway.

There are court cases that speak to this right of ours to have a political life of our own and not be political indentured servants.

In the 1976 Elrod v. Burns case, Democrat Richard Elrod was elected Cook County Sheriff (Illinois), replacing a Republican. Employees were told they had to switch parties or would be fired. Employees were fired and they sued. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that firing non-policymaking employees solely because of their politics was a violation of their First Amendment rights. The result of this case is that non-civil service public employees may be hired for their politics but may not be fired for their politics.

In the 1980 Branti v. Finkel case, Democrat Peter Branti Jr. was appointed Public Defender by the Rockland County Legislature (New York), replacing a Republican. Two Assistant Public Defenders, Republicans, believed they were about to be fired because of their political affiliations and brought suit for an injunction against dismissal. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled, again, that firing non-policymaking employees because of their politics was a violation of their First Amendment rights. The Court also said it would be acceptable to fire a policy-making employee for his political beliefs only if those beliefs interfered with discharge of duties.

In the 1983 Barnes v. Bosley case, Democrat Freeman Bosley Jr. was elected St. Louis City Circuit Court Clerk, defeating Democrat Joseph P. Roddy in the primary. Three Court Clerk employees were fired by Bosley and they brought suit for dismissal because of their political affiliations. The U.S District Court Eastern District ruled that two of the dismissed employees had been fired in violation of their First Amendment rights, while a third had indeed been in a policy making or confidential position for which there was no First Amendment protection.

manualpoliticalRecorder employees cannot be fired just because a new Recorder takes office.

Recorder employees do not have to donate to any candidate or ward organization.

Recorder employees do not have to work the polls Tuesday.

Recorder employees have political rights. In fact, it’s in our Recorder of Deeds Personnel Manual as amended by Recorder Jennifer Florida.

Sharon Carpenter is not going to come back and restore the patronage system to the human chattel institution it was under her tenure. She can try, but she can’t win. And it will be very costly for her.

– Marie Ceselski