200-plus arrests in Baton Rouge and St. Paul protests
While thousands of demonstrators flooded the streets of major U.S. cities again Saturday night — protesting the recent killings by police of black men Philando Castile in suburban St. Paul, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana — a demonstration in St. Paul took a particularly violent turn, with participants hurling Molotov cocktails, fireworks, rocks, glass bottles, concrete slabs, and bricks at riot gear-wearing police officers.
And between demonstrations in Baton Rouge and St. Paul alone, there were more than 200 arrests.
The St. Paul protesters, who kicked off the night at 8 p.m. from the governor’s mansion, forced the closure of Interstate 94. Some threw objects and dropped liquids from overpasses on officers below. Others directed laser pointers at officers.
According to the St. Paul Police Department, the preliminary number of arrests is 100 — 50 from the freeway protest, and from from a subsequent protest after the freeway had been cleared.
Police responded shortly after midnight with inert, glass balls and smoke to clear about 200 demonstrators who were blocking the interstate, which opened early Sunday morning. Pepper spray was also used on some protesters.
Protester Mike Martin told The Associated Press he was pepper sprayed by a police officer on a pedestrian bridge overlooking the interstate. He claimed he was trying to move the crowd along and keep the peace. “I guess I wasn’t moving fast enough for him,” Martin said. “He just got it out and bam, I saw a cloud. It’s burning pretty bad.”
Baton Rouge, the other city reeling from the killing of one of its residents, also witnessed masses of people taking to the streets. Demonstrators gathered at the convenience store where Sterling was shot before making their way to the Baton Rouge police department and the state Capitol.
Baton Rouge resident Marie Flowers, who lives in the same neighborhood where Sterling was killed, came to the protest with her three children. “Black boys are being killed and this is just the culmination of what has been going on for decades,” she told The AP.
According to East Baton Rouge Sheriff public information officer Casey Hicks, there 101 arrests overnight related to the protest.
About 1,000 protesters faced off against riot gear-wearing police officers, while shouting “No justice! No peace!” Members of the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense were also present, shouting “Black Power” and raising their fists. The protests died down a little after midnight.
Two weapons were confiscated, according to a police spokesman.
Among those arrested was prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay Mckesson. It was unclear why he was arrested.
He was filming live the moments leading up to his arrest. “The police in Baton Rouge have been truly awful tonight,” Mckesson said on the video, while walking along Airline Highway. “They have provoked people, they chase people just for kicks. The police have been violent tonight. The protesters have not.”
Soon after, as the video below depicts, someone shouts, “This is the police, you’re under arrest! Don’t fight me! Don’t fight me!”
Mckesson responds: “I’m under arrest, y’all!” The camera is then knocked to the ground.
Other cities where demonstrators took to the streets:
New York, N.Y.: Hundreds of people descended upon Union Square and marched uptown, chanting “Black lives matter” and “No justice, no peace.” By the end of the demonstration, about 1,000 people had taken part. An NYPD spokesman said there were 20 arrests. The charges were unknown.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Hundreds of people took part in a six-hour march to two police precincts, shouting slogans while facing off with officers.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Several hundred people, some of whom were affiliated with Black Lives Matter, broke off from the city’s 200th anniversary parade to march from Point State Park to the county courthouse.
Newport, Rhode Island: More than 150 people gathered in downtown Newport to listen to Black Lives Matter speakers.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Hundreds of Black Lives Matter supporters marched throughout the city, stopping outside a Broward County jail, where prisoners banged on windows in support. Other demonstrations were held in neighboring West Palm Beach and Miami.
Salt Lake City, Utah: Black Lives Matters supporters gathered in the city’s downtown, where speakers addressed racial inequality and police violence.
San Francisco, California: Several roads and ramps to get on and off the Bay Bridge were blocked by demonstrators, who kicked off their march from the city’s Hall of Justice. And in central California, hundreds of people blocked intersection in Fresno.
ABC News’ Matthew Foster, Alexandra Faul, and Devin Villacis. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.