Last night in Baton Rouge, hundreds of demonstrators walked along Airline Highway, in the wake of the shooting of Alton Sterling by police on Tuesday (July 5).
DeRay Mckesson, one of the most prominent voices of the Black Lives Matter movement, was among the protesters. As usual, Mckesson was active on Twitter. He updated his followers about the police presence, filming the arrival of armored vehicles and officers on foot, pacing alongside the protestors.
Because there is no sidewalk on the highway, demonstrators walked on the shoulder of the road, which was marked by a white line. (By contrast, protests in St. Paul, Minnesota where Philando Castile was killed by police on July 7, blocked an interstate for several hours on Saturday night.) In a video Mckesson broadcast via Periscope, protesters walk and chant, “No justice, no peace. No racist police.”
At about 4:00 in the video, as Mckesson filmed a protester being arrested, a voice can be heard off-camera: “You in the loud shoes..if I see you in the road, you’re going to jail.” (McKesson was wearing red sneakers.)
At about 4:50, as the camera was steadily trained on a swarm of headlights and what appear to be many policemen in the distance, the camera rattles and a voice, very close from behind states: “City police, you’re under arrest. Don’t fight me. Don’t fight me.”
Mckesson told the Washington Post, via text message, that he and about three dozen activists were brought into custody with their wrists tied. Other protesters told the Post that two police officers had slammed Mckesson to the ground, which is consistent with the jarring video.
The hashtag #freederay has been trending on Twitter in the hours since Mckesson’s arrest. As of 10 am EST Sunday morning, a crowdsourced bail fund for protesters in custody had nearly $12,000. A deputy at the jail where Mckesson is being held told Quartz that bail had not yet been set.
Mckesson was apparently scheduled to appear on Face the Nation this morning. No doubt, he’ll have more to say once he emerges from custody.