Baltimore activist DeRay Mckesson has been arrested in Baton Rouge during a protest against police brutality. According to social media reports, Mckesson was taken into custody late on the night of July 9 in Louisiana. His arrest was later confirmed by the Baton Rouge Police Department.
Mckesson was there with his group Campaign Zero following the shooting of Alton Sterling on July 6.
That attack, along with the killing of Philando Castile in Minnesota, have sparked a spate of protests against police brutality across the United States. Those protests were used a cover for Micah Johnson to kill five police officers in Dallas on July 7.
This is a breaking story so stay tuned for updates.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Arrest Comes on Mckesson’s 32nd Birthday; It Was Also Livestreamed on Periscope
Mckesson was arrested on his 32 birthday, according to his Twitter page. He had been live streaming the protests on Periscope at the time he was taken into custody. While before that, Mckesson had been regularly updating his followers as to how the rally was going in Baton Rouge.
During the live stream, Mckesson says, “The police of Baton Rouge have been truly awful today. The police have been violent tonight, the protestors have not.”
An officer tells Mckesson that he will be arrested if he walks on the road. The cop can also be heard saying, “Don’t fight me, don’t fight me.” The last words spoken by Mckesson on the video are, “I’m under arrest, y’all.”
2. Mckesson’s Twitter Following Is Pleading With People to Call the Baton Rouge PD
In the immediate aftermath of his arrest, the hashtag “FreeDeray” began to trend nationally in the U.S. Meanwhile many activists on social media have been calling on people to call the Baton Rouge Police Department to demand that Deray be set free.
The Washington Post reports that Mckesson is being held along with 33 other protesters. The newspaper notes that there is no word on any charges he may be facing at this time. One of Mckesson’s close friends and co-founder of his movement Campaign Zero, Brittany Packnett, told the Post, “The officers won’t give their names. He was clearly targeted.”
3. Prior to Mckesson’s Arrest, Police Had Reportedly Arrested More Than 30 Protesters
The Associated Press reports that around 30 protesters had already been arrested before Mckesson’s apprehension. A police spokesman told the AP that cops also took two firearms from protesters. Meanwhile, a Lousiana State Police spokesman said that in reality, authorities had confiscated seven guns, reports WAFB’s Kevin Frey.
One local resident, Eugene Collins, told the agency, “We don’t need to go around here tearing up our communities. We don’t want young people getting arrested. We don’t want anyone getting arrested. And we definitely don’t want any of these folks tear gassed, stun gunned or getting shot in the process. Peace is the most important.”
4. A CBS Baton Rouge Producer Has Also Been Arrested During the Protests
A reporter with the Baton Rouge Advocate, Bryn Stole, tweeted that a field producer with WAFB, CBS’s Baton Rouge affiliate, had also been arrested during the protests. There has been no mention of that arrest on the station’s Twitter page. They do, however, report that a police spokesman says that two local cops were injured during the rally.
5. Mckesson Had Been a Candidate in Baltimore’s 2016 Mayoral Election
Since the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown at the hands of Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, Deray Mckesson has become one of the most recognisable faces of the Black Lives Matter movement. He began his own campaign group, Campaign Zero, and even ran for mayor of Baltimore in 2016.
A native of Maryland, Mckesson says on his Facebook page that he’s worked in school systems in Minneapolis and New York City as well as his home city. Mckesson is a graduate of Bowdoin College.