After demonstrations over the shooting death of Alton Sterling roiled Baton Rouge, leading to violent clashes between protesters and law enforcement and prompting nearly 200 arrests, the local district attorney said he would not prosecute more than half of those who were detained.
Among those who will not be prosecuted is DeRay Mckesson, a leading figure in the call for police reform who has risen to national prominence with the increasing visibility of the Black Lives Matter movement. DeRay Mckesson, 31, had traveled to Baton Rouge to join protests condemning Sterling’s death at the hands of police, in a shooting caught on video that stirred anger nationwide — particularly after a similar episode unfolded in Minnesota the following day.
Mckesson was broadcasting the demonstration outside police headquarters, in a video that ran live on social media, when police began forcibly dispersing the crowd. They told protesters to clear the street, while protesters answered that there was no sidewalk available.
“City police, you’re under arrest,” Mckesson was told, as his shot went out of focus and he exclaimed: “What?”
“I’m under arrest, y’all,” he said.
Mckesson was released Sunday afternoon. Five days later, just four protesters remained in the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison, according to a statement from District Attorney Hillar Moore III. After reviewing the details of 185 arrests from July 8-11, Moore decided not to prosecute about 100 of them, he said in a statement. He said those cases involved only misdemeanors related to obstructing a public roadway. At the same time, he cautioned: “While all citizens have the right to assemble and protest, they do not have the right to block streets and impede the flow of traffic.”
Another name on the list of those cleared from further legal proceedings was Ieshia Evans, a nurse whose photo — taken as she stood poised while being apprehended — has gone viral.