POLITICS
08/14/2014 12:52 am ET Updated Aug 14, 2014

St. Louis Politician Arrested Amid Ferguson Protests

WASHINGTON -- A St. Louis official who has been a prominent presence at the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, was arrested Wednesday night, according to his wife.

Antonio French, an alderman in St. Louis, has been tweeting nonstop about events unfolding in Ferguson after a police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, last Saturday. Members of the city's African-American community have protested the shooting.

French has been critical of the police response to the protests -- which has included officers firing tear gas and wooden bullets at crowds -- telling MSNBC host Chris Hayes recently, "There is no trust between the Ferguson police department and the community at this point."

Late Wednesday night, French's wife tweeted that her husband had been arrested by the Ferguson Police Department:

She then continued to tweet that he was being detained.

The Huffington Post called the Ferguson County Police Department and spoke with an official named "Julie." She would not give her last name, and said she could neither confirm nor deny that French was arrested.

When asked where confirmation could be obtained, Julie replied, "You'll get it on the web, I guess. We're very busy."

About an hour later, French's wife tweeted again that he was now being booked:

KMOX in St. Louis noted that there was a crowd at the police station awaiting his release as well.

News of French's arrest came shortly after two reporters, Ryan Reilly of The Huffington Post and Wesley Lowery of The Washington Post, were assaulted and arrested after SWAT officers clearing a McDonald's ordered them to leave the restaurant and then said they did not do so quickly enough.

"They essentially acted as a military force. It was incredible," Reilly said in an MSNBC interview after his release. "The worst part was he slammed my head against the glass purposefully on the way out of McDonald's and then sarcastically apologized for it."

French's activity at the protests has contrasted greatly with the lack of involvement by Missouri's state and federal leaders. As the police response to protesters intensified Wednesday, Gov. Jay Nixon (D) did not initially release a comment. After significant public outcry, he said late Wednesday he would cancel his appearance at the state fair Thursday.

"Gov. Nixon first commented publicly on the situation on Ferguson on Monday morning when he requested the DOJ investigation, has been in frequent communication since that time with local and community leaders, and spoke to a standing room-only crowd on Tuesday night at a church in North St. Louis County," Nixon spokesman Scott Holste told HuffPost Thursday.

The police have refused to release the name of the officer who shot Brown, saying they fear for his safety.

Clarification: This article was updated to reflect that while Nixon did not immediately respond to Wednesday's protests, he first commented on the situation in Ferguson more broadly on Monday. It was also updated to include comment from Nixon's spokesman.

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