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Protesters march for bail reform in St. Louis

Protesters march for bail reform in St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS • Area activists were joined by Presbyterians in town for a national convention marched through downtown Tuesday afternoon to bring attention to bail reform.

Several hundred people marched from America's Center to the St. Louis Justice Center on Tucker Boulevard across from City Hall.

About 2,500 Presbyterians from one of the 10 largest Protestant denominations in the United States are in town through Saturday. The Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly will begin last Saturday.

The church opted to focus on a social justice issue while in St. Louis and chose bail reform, a decades-old movement that has heated up in here in recent years, in part because of the protests and reforms that followed the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson. Church leaders say the system that increases incarceration and perpetuates inequality.

The church planned to donate the offering collection from the opening worship ceremony to bail out people accused of minor offenses in partnership with local organizations, including The Bail Project and Arch City Defenders.

The Pretrial Justice Institute says that nearly two-thirds of people in local jails are awaiting trial and have not been convicted of a crime, and many are facing only low-level, nonviolent charges.

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