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Judge denies planned bridge protests

Mississippi River Bridge
Mississippi River Bridge(Credit: WAFB)
Updated: May. 31, 2019 at 2:56 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - On Friday, May 31, a district court judge denied a request by protesters to march across the Sunshine Bridge in St. James Parish and the I-10 bridge in Baton Rouge the first weekend of June.

The activists are in the middle of a five-day march through “Cancer Alley,” which spans multiple parishes, ending at the Governor’s Mansion Monday, June 3.

The prior week, the state denied a request by the group to march across the two bridges. The group then filed for a temporary restraining order, asking a judge to block the state from preventing the march.

District Court Judge Wilson Fields held a hearing on the matter the morning of Friday, May 31 and denied the request early Friday afternoon.

Fields scheduled a hearing in June to discuss the legality of any future marches across the two bridges. That hearing is set for 9 a.m. on June 12.

The group, called the Coalition Against Death Alley, is marching to raise awareness about the high number of cancer deaths and other illnesses among people who live along a stretch of south Louisiana dubbed Cancer Alley.

The group blames pollution from industry for the illnesses and is demanding that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards push for stiffer pollution regulations.

Lawyers representing Louisiana State Police (LSP) and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) argued in court Friday it’s not safe for the protesters to be on the bridges and it would affect the “quality of life” for other motorists.

LSP attorney, Faye Morrison, argued the protesters have already used a bus for portions of their march and could simply do that same march when they reach the bridges.

Bill Quigley, a lawyer representing the protesters, scoffed at the idea.

“What if the courts in Alabama had told Martin Luther King to take a Greyhound across the bridge in Selma?” he argued in court.

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