POLITICS
08/10/2015 03:14 pm ET Updated Aug 11, 2015

Ferguson Protesters DeRay Mckesson And Johnetta Elzie Arrested

 

ST. LOUIS -- Dozens of protesters were arrested Monday outside the U.S. attorney's office in downtown St. Louis during a demonstration against police brutality. 

DeRay Mckesson and Johnetta Elzie -- prominent activists in the Black Lives Matter movement -- were among the 57 people detained during the sit-in. They were released after being issued a summons alleging obstruction of the courthouse doorways, U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan said in a statement.

The rally, which Callahan said included as many as 200 people, was a part of Moral Mondays, a nationwide social justice movement that began in North Carolina in response to the state legislature's conservative shift. The campaign moved to St. Louis this week, calling on the Department of Justice to take action against police violence toward black people. 

This is the first time Mckesson or Elzie has been arrested during a demonstration. Cornel West and the Rev. Osagyefo Sekou were arrested as well, according to Think Progress.

Elzie was released Monday evening:

An arrested protester from Detroit told The Huffington Post she knew this was something that could happen, and that although the officers were nice during the day Monday, she didn't think it would carry over as night fell.

The Rev. Renita Lamkin told HuffPost that while in holding, women who had been involved in civil rights demonstrations for a while shared wisdom and encouragement with younger protesters.

“In terms of eventfulness, it was really uneventful,” she said. “What’s beautiful is that we had an opportunity to share stories, to encourage each other and learn more about the movement.”

Lamkin also said authorities took DNA, Social Security numbers and two sets of fingerprints from the detained protesters -- and that it wasn’t optional. If protesters declined, they were told they would remain in jail, go before a judge and be ordered to comply. If a detainee still refused, she said, the DNA and fingerprints would be taken by force.

Before she was taken into custody, Elzie tweeted this in reference to the Sandra Bland case:

St. Louis County also issued a state of emergency for Ferguson on Monday due to the officer-involved shooting that took place on Sunday. Protesters were mourning the anniversary of the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown when shots rang out.

Amnesty International called on law enforcement not to restrict peaceful protests and to show restraint.

“We are monitoring the events in Ferguson and the St. Louis area closely, and urge the authorities to take an approach that leads to de-escalation," Jamira Burley, senior campaigner for Amnesty International USA, said in a statement. "They should avoid threatening appearance or behavior, inappropriate equipment, and arbitrary arrests. Equipping officers in a manner more appropriate to a battlefield may suggest that conflict is inevitable rather than possible, escalating tensions and placing people at further risk." 

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Later that night, police made several more arrests after protesters blocked a traffic lane on West Florissant Avenue.

Officers with bullhorns directed protesters to clear the roadway, and others in riot gear forced people out of the street. Some demonstrators threw water bottles and other debris at officers.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar told The Associated Press: "They're not going to take the street tonight. That's not going to happen."

As officers were clearing the road, one officer fired pepper spray into a crowd of people, hitting an AP videojournalist. It wasn't immediately clear how many others were hit or why the pepper spray was used.

Early Tuesday morning, police also scuffled with HuffPost reporter Ryan Reilly. During the encounter, Reilly claimed an officer confiscated his media credentials:

 

In a statement released overnight, county police spokesman Shawn McGuire said approximately 23 people were arrested. There were no shots fired and no burglaries, looting or property damage. 

Monday marks the fourth consecutive night of protests marking the anniversary of the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

A demonstration in the same location a night earlier was interrupted by gunfire. St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger has declared a state of emergency, authorizing Belmar to take control of police emergency management in and around Ferguson.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

The Associated Press also contributed to this story.

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