Who is Antonio French, the alderman providing updates from Ferguson?


St. Louis alderman Antonio French photographs protesters in Ferguson, Mo. (Sid Hastings/Associated Press)

On Wednesday night, St. Louis alderman Antonio French was arrested at the protests in Ferguson, Mo., according to reports. He was released Thursday morning, KSDK reported.

“They just released me,” French told the TV news crew. “I’m not exactly sure what happened.”

What do you need to know about French, who has been documenting police activities in Missouri since the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager last weekend? Let’s go through the basics.

Who is Antonio French?
Antonio French is a Democratic alderman in St. Louis, representing Ward 21. He’s been documenting protests of the police-involved shooting of Michael Brown pretty heavily, and on Wednesday night he was arrested in Ferguson, according to reports.

Where is Ward 21?
Here’s a map of Ward 21. It’s a few miles from Ferguson.

What has he been doing in Ferguson?
French has been actively recording the scene in Missouri. You’ve probably seen his Vines or tweets this week.

Here’s a local TV interview with Ferguson, in which he discusses his dispatches:

Why was Antonio French arrested Wednesday?
That’s still a little unclear. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday morning said no details of his arrest were released. The Washington Post called the Ferguson jail and police department but has not been provided with any information either.

Here’s what was reported on Twitter:

Here’s KSDK on French’s arrest and release.

OK … what else can you tell me about him?
He’s not an amateur at this. Here’s a St. Louis Public Radio report about French’s experience before he was elected. The basic gist is that he “created and managed” a Web site that uses video to document government and politic activities. Since being elected alderman, he has sponsored local legislation that would support similar efforts.

According to the report:

“I think a lot of people would be amazed that our activities are not recorded,” said French, D-21st Ward, last week during a hearing of the board’s legislation committee. “There are no transcripts of what we do. When we have very important hearings, like today for instance, that provides information that the public would probably want to know, we don’t really have a mechanism for them to get that.”

Oh, he also appears to be an Auburn football fan and has a young son, if you’re interested in his personal bio.

What happens now?

As we said, French was released Thursday morning, according to reports. We’ll update this post if we learn more details of his arrest and experience today.

Sarah Larimer is a general assignment reporter for the Washington Post.
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