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Prominent protest couple faces additional charges for Monday's highway shutdown

Brittany Ferrell (left) and her wife Alexis Templeton shortly after leaving the St. Louis County jail on August 12, 2015
(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

Two of the most familiar faces on the front lines of protests in Ferguson and elsewhere are facing several charges for their conduct during a protest Monday on Interstate 70.

Both Brittany Ferrell, 28, and her wife, 21-year-old Alexis Templeton, face peace disturbance and first-degree trespass charges for being part of a group that blocked traffic in both lanes of the interstate near the Blanchette Bridge for 30 minutes on Monday near the height of rush hour. Both of those are misdemeanors.

(St. Louis Public Radio has redacted Templeton and Ferrell's address from the charging documents linked above. The St. Louis County prosecutor redacted Social Security numbers. No other changes have been made.)

Ferrell is also facing a felony property damage charge for allegedly kicking a 2014 Honda Pilot that drove through the line of protesters, and Templeton faces a misdemeanor assault charge for allegedly punching the driver of that vehicle. St. Louis County prosecutor Bob McCulloch said in a statement that the female driver, identified only as S.M. in charging documents, suffered an eye injury.

Ferrell and Templeton were arrested early Tuesday evening as they waited outside the Buzz Westfall Justice Center in Clayton for others taken into custody during the shutdown to be released. Templeton was released on a summons, while Ferrell was held on a $10,000 bond for her felony count. Contrary to claims on social media, the couple is not facing hate crime charges. Records from the St. Louis County police show almost everyone else arrested at the highway protest faced charges of interfering with an officer.

Templeton and Ferrell walked out of the county jail around 5:15 Wednesday night to a crowd of cheering supporters, all of whom had been protesting in front of the jail minutes before.  The crowd, which numbered about 75, was demanding to know why the driver of the Honda Pilot was not also facing criminal charges. 

Supporters of the protest movement expressed skepticism about the charges the women are facing.

But former St. Louis County police chief Tim Fitch called it the right decision.

"I don't blame the driver for trying to break through the crowd," he said. "Nobody deserves to be trapped behind a group that's clearly violent after we saw that she was assaulted. Five thousand dollars of damage to her vehicle. It's unacceptable. And if there are groups out there that think that's the right thing to do, for protesters to attack innocent motorists, I don't know where we're going with this conversation in this country if people support that."

Templeton and Ferrell have not yet had their next court date set, according to online records.

Jason Rosenbaum contributed to this report.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.