Over 100 people were reportedly arrested on Saturday night in protests across the country, including prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Hundreds have gathered in Baton Rouge over the past few days to protest the murder of Alton Sterling, who was pinned down by police officers and shot multiple times in a convenience store parking lot on Tuesday night. The incident was caught on video and went viral.
The Alton Sterling Video Could Have Been Lost ForeverJustice by CREDIT: Screenshot/WBRZ Graphic cellphone footage of police fatally shooting Alton Sterling, a black father…thinkprogress.orgTensions are high across the country after the violence of last week, which included the deaths of two black men by police caught on video and the killing of five police officers in Dallas, Texas during an otherwise peaceful protest.
While the Baton Rouge protests have been peaceful, there have been accusations of police misconduct by those on the ground. One officer is already being investigated for pulling a gun on unarmed protesters on Friday night.
In response to the video of the officer pointing his handgun at protesters, Baton Rouge police chief Carl Dabadie Jr. said that the attack on the Dallas officers, as well as heat and stress, was getting to the officers’ heads.
“They’re working very long hours. The heat is playing a role also,” he told the Advocate. “This 95, 100 degree heat takes its toll when you have an officer fully geared out.”
One video of the demonstrations Saturday night shows a second police officer pointing what looks like a machine gun at protesters.
Race soldiers are pointing machine guns at unarmed protesters right now down at the Baton Rouge protest tonight pic.twitter.com/fPtjwMBFbR
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) July 10, 2016
McKesson traveled to Baton Rouge on Saturday, his 31st birthday, to join the protests. Friends who were with him said that he was clearly targeted by police after he spent the day documenting the protests for his over 450,000 twitter followers. He was livestreaming on periscope when he was arrested.
“The protesters haven’t hurt anyone, we weren’t blocking the street or anything. Then the police started just snatching and grabbing people,” he said while walking with other protesters on the shoulder of the road, as dozens of police cars and officers trailed them.
“The police in Baton Rouge have been violent tonight. The protesters haven’t been.”
On the livestream, an officer can be heard approaching McKesson and saying he had been “flagged” because of his “loud shoes.” McKesson is known for wearing bright red shoes at protests.
A few seconds later, as other protesters chant, “No racist police. No justice, no peace,” the phone is knocked out of McKesson’s hand while an officer apprehends him.
“City police, you’re under arrest.”
“What?!” McKesson says. “I’m under arrest y’all.”
— Brandon Wall (@Walldo) July 10, 2016
Eye witnesses of the arrest say that McKesson was slammed to the ground by the officers before being taken away.
“The officers won’t give their names,” Brittany Packnett, who co-founded Campaign Zero with McKesson, told the Washington Post. “He was clearly targeted.”
His arrest was confirmed by The Advocate. He was charged with “simple obstruction of a highway of commerce,” even though in his livestream McKesson repeatedly noted that there was no sidewalk and showed that he and other protesters were walking on the shoulder of the road.
According to the Post, McKesson called a friend around 5:30 a.m. and said he was physically okay, but did not know when he was going to be released.
Police shootings sparked massive protests all over the country this weekend, including in St. Paul, Minnesota, where Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer after getting pulled over on Wednesday for a broken taillight.
The Minnesota Star Tribune reported that about a hundred people were arrested in the Minneapolis-St. Paul protests. Many of those arrests came during an “hourslong human blockade” of Interstate 94 in St. Paul. During that time, police officers — many of whom were dressed in riot gear — were pelted with rocks and bottles, and officers used smoke bombs and pepper spray to disperse the crowd. Twenty seven officers suffered injuries which were categorized as “not serious.”
Also on Saturday night, a shot was fired at the San Antonio Police Department headquarters around 10 p.m. No one was injured, but the gunman was reportedly angry about black people getting killed by police.
This post has been updated to reflect the charges brought against McKesson.
The names of the 102 protesters arrested in Baton Rouge on Saturday have been released.
Huffington Post reports that its senior crime reporter David Lohr was on the scene and livestreaming when a police reporter brought out what seemed he referred to as a machine gun.
“An officer just pointed a machine gun at me,” Lohr said. “I’m not quite sure what that female officer was doing; she pointed an assault rifle at us.”
More protests are expected on Sunday.