DeRay Mckesson, the prominent and outspoken Black Lives Matter activist, was arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana last night during a protest against the shooting death of Alton Sterling. Mckesson live-streamed the protest and his arrest on Periscope. As officers took him into custody, fellow protesters took up his phone to continue the stream, as several demanded to know why he was being arrested.
"What was his crime?" asked one protester during the broadcast. "Why is he being arrested?"
"Why is he being arrested?"
Police defended the arrests that took place as being done in the name of public safety. "Well, they’re clearly blocking the roadway," a police official told The Advocate's Maya Lau. "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."
Here's @LAStatePolice Maj. Cain answering Qs about why cops apparently rushing crowd unprovoked #altonSterling pic.twitter.com/9n4Ix89Zj8— Maya Lau (@mayalau) July 10, 2016
However, Mckesson stated repeatedly during the broadcast that protesters weren't blocking the roadway. An officer even demands that he show the street line protesters weren't permitted to cross during the demonstration.
Last night's protest was one of many across the country decrying police violence and racism against black communities. Last week saw the deaths of Alton Sterling, who was shot and killed by Baton Rouge police officers on camera, and Philando Castille, shot and killed during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. His death was recorded on Facebook Live, sparking national outrage online. The week culminated in a sniper attack in Dallas on Thursday night, resulting in the deaths of five police officers, with nine others injured.
More and more police action is being recorded by ordinary citizens
The arrest of Mckesson, who recently ran for mayor of Baltimore and sat with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey at last month's Code Conference, comes as more and more police action is being recorded by ordinary citizens, allowing them to speak truth to power and demand accountability. It's not clear what charges Mckesson will face, if any, but the news is sure to galvanize his supporters in the days ahead.