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Presbyterian convention goers march to Justice Center to bail out non-violent offenders

ST. LOUIS - It was billed as a march to free the captives, as hundreds attending a convention in St. Louis marched from America’s Center to the St. Louis Justice Center in downtown to bail dozens of people out of jail.

America's Center is hosting the General Assembly of Presbyterian Church USA in St. Louis, with church leaders from across the country and as far away as the Middle East.

Organizers raised over $47,000 to bail out as many non-violent offenders as possible, with bails ranging from $200 to $5,000. They would not release the names of the those to be released but cited "marijuana possession" and "public disturbance" as examples of the cases involved. Organizers expected the money to post bail for three dozen inmates or more.

Nearly 400 marchers filled the steps of the Justice Center, spilling onto northbound Tucker Boulevard, effectively shutting the street down for about 30 minutes.

Marchers chanted, “end cash bail now" and carried signs saying #endcashbail.

The group decried the cash bail system as predatory and keeping people locked up for a year or more awaiting trial solely because they are poor.

At the same time, people who can afford bail are released, even though they may face far more serious allegations.