DeRay McKesson, a prominent activist in the Black Lives Matter movement, was freed after being arrested at a Baton Rouge protest on Saturday night.
He was walking on Airline Highway when arrested. He had been live-streaming the demonstration, which took place to protest the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile last week. He was able to record his own arrest before spending 16 hours in jail for obstructing a highway during a protest; he was released on Sunday afternoon.
He was arrested while wearing a shirt with “#staywoke” on it, but his booking photo depicts him wearing an orange jumpsuit, which is not normal protocol. McKesson explained the difficulties the protestors were facing concerning their release as the jail was only accepting money orders for bail on Sunday, when banks were closed.
After his release, he joined protestors in Baton Rouge, sharing images of people outside the Triple S Food Smart where Alton Sterling was killed.
“The sense of community at the Triple S tonight is incredible,” he said.
In an interview after his release, McKesson described his arrest as “unlawful.” Witnesses described McKesson’s arrest as being “physically violent,” describing how officers tackled him from multiple angles. McKesson was live-streaming the protests when an officer informed him that he had been “flagged,” and would be arrested if he left the sidewalk again.
McKesson was one of 102 people who were arrested during the protests. Police said they confiscated eight firearms. One officer had several teeth knocked out from a projectile being thrown. Most of the protestors were from Baton Rouge, but others were from areas such as Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Oklahoma.
“We’ve been very clear that we want them to have every opportunity to protest and voice their opinion. But if you move into the roadway and break the law, you’re going to be arrested,” said spokesman Maj. Doug Cain of the Louisiana State Police.
According to McKesson, “the protesters were peaceful last night; the police were not.”
“The police want protesters to be too afraid to protest which is why they intentionally created a context of conflict, and I’ll never be afraid to tell the truth.”