Prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson, who The New York Times has described as “a national voice” for the movement, was arrested on Saturday night while protesting last week’s police shooting death of a black man in Baton Rouge.
Mckesson was live-streaming the protest when police came up from behind him and arrested him. He had been marching with other protesters along Airline Highway in Baton Rouge.
One protester can be heard telling Mckesson to “film the white line” on the road to prove that the protesters were complying with the police’s demands to not stray into the road. Mckesson says more than once that there is no footpath that protesters could have been marching on instead.
Still, he is arrested: “City police. You’re under arrest. Don’t fight me. Don’t fight me,” a cop yells as he approaches Mckesson from behind.
A major with the Lousiana State Police told Maya Lau, a reporter with The Advocate, that Mckesson and the other protesters had “clearly” been blocking the roadway.
“We respond to their actions,” he told Lau in a video later posted on her Twitter account. “We welcome the protests. We want them to voice their opinions. That’s what we’re here to do, to make sure they’re safe and they’re able to do that.”
Mckesson texted Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery from prison:
At least two journalists were reportedly arrested at some point in the night, and another activist was arrested as she was giving an interview. Her arrest was also caught on camera and has since gone viral.
A confrontation apparently eruped between riot police and Black Panther activists during the protest — several of the activists were carrying shotguns, which is permitted under Louisana’s open carry laws, according to Reuters. A police spokesman said several arrests were made and two weapons recovered.
Still, many took to social media to condemn the police’s response during the protest. More than one protester described being “ambushed” by police as they were demonstrating.
Baton Rouge police are handling this demonstration very, very badly.
— Charles Johnson (@Green_Footballs) July 10, 2016
It was the second night of demonstrations in the city protesting the shooting death of 37-year-old Alton Sterling there last week.
Sterling’s death was captured on video and has sparked outrage across the country for the officer’s apparently excessive use of force — Sterling was pinned to the ground by police when one officer took out his gun and shot him point-blank in the chest.
Sterling’s death came two days before another black man, Philando Castile, was fatally shot during a traffic stop outside St. Paul, Minnesota. His girlfriend filmed the aftermath of the shooting, and has insisted that Castile complied with the police officer who pulled them over before he was shot four times.
Both incidents have prompted a wave of protests across the country, from New York City and Washington, DC to Nashville and St. Paul. During one demonstration in Dallas on Thursday night, a lone gunman killed five police officers and wounded seven others in what was the deadliest day for US police officers since 9/11.
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