A prominent Black Lives Matter activist, three journalists and more than 120 other people were taken into custody in Louisiana over the weekend, authorities said Sunday, in connection with protests over the fatal shooting of an African-American man by two white police officers in Baton Rouge.
Spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks of the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office told The Associated Press that nearly 100 people were taken to the parish jail over protests that began late Saturday. Most of those arrested were from Louisiana and faced a single charge of obstructing a highway.
A first wave of arrests took place on Friday and early Saturday, with 30 people taken into custody.
Police began releasing those who were arrested on Sunday afternoon. Kira Marrero, 21, of New Orleans, who faces a charge of obstructing a highway, was the first to leave the jail. She says she was not standing on the road.
“I did the right thing,” said Marrero, a 2015 graduate of Williams College in Massachusetts. “I have no doubt in my mind that I did nothing wrong.”
Tensions between black citizens and police have risen palpably over the past week or so amid police shootings of African-American men in Minnesota and Louisiana and the gunning down of five white police officers by a black suspect in Dallas in apparent retaliation.
Among those arrested was DeRay Mckesson, a leading figure in the Black Lives Matter movement that blossomed in recent years in the wake of numerous deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police. Mckesson smiled and embraced supporters upon his release from jail Sunday afternoon.
“I remain disappointed in the Baton Rouge police, who continue to provoke protesters for peacefully protesting. There’s a lot of work to be done, with this police department specifically,” he said.
Authorities had just arrested a couple on a motorcycle driving by on the street when attention turned toward Mckesson, who had traveled from Baltimore for the protest and happened to be wearing bright red shoes. An officer could be seen pointing to a man and heard saying that he’d arrest the man with “loud shoes” if he could reach him.
Booking documents provided by the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office said Mckesson was arrested on a charge of obstructing a highway.
An affidavit of probable cause filed by police says Mckesson “intentionally” placed himself in the road after protesters were repeatedly warned via police loud speaker to remain on private property or the curb.
“During the protest, the defendant entered the roadway and was provided another verbal order to exit the lanes of travel. Moments later, the defendant entered the roadway again and was taken into custody by officers on scene without incident,” the affidavit said.
Activist Brittany Packett, who was with Mckesson, said in an email that he was on the highway shoulder when “multiple police crossed onto the shoulder, tackling Deray and arresting him.”
Photo images taken by The Associated Press show police apprehending Mckesson, who at one point was on his knees before being pulled to his feet by police and led away with his hands secured behind his back.
Source: Chicago Tribune