Baton Rouge police clash with Black Lives Matter protesters, dozens arrested
Demonstrations against police killings continued across the U.S. Sunday night
Photos and video posted on social media by witnesses and journalists showed protesters being arrested in different parts of the city by police officers who told the crowds they were no longer holding peaceful demonstrations or that they were blocking major thoroughfares.
Baton Rouge police say 50 people were taken into custody Sunday, bringing the weekend arrest total in the state capital to over 160.
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The protests follow the shootings by police of Alton Sterling, 37, in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile, 32, in a suburb of St. Paul, Minn.
Calls for demonstrations to remain peaceful in Louisiana and Minnesota came as authorities grappled with a wave of protests against police use of force that has swept the country in the past week.
A U.S. military veteran shot and killed five police officers at a spontaneous march in Dallas on Thursday, sending a chill through law enforcement as well as those involved in the mostly peaceful demonstrations.
One officer in Baton Rouge on Sunday was injured after being hit by a projectile.
'The only violent people were the police'
Protester Elizabeth Thomas, 22, told CBC News that officers clad in riot gear threatened protesters with tear gas as they assembled on a woman's yard with her permission in Baton Rouge.
"Then all of the sudden the police attack us for NO REASON," she said in a Twitter direct message interview. "The only violent people were the police."
The Louisiana State University graduate posted a video clip of the confrontations on Twitter.
BATON ROUGE HAS TURNED INTO SYRIA <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AltonSterling?src=hash">#AltonSterling</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackLivesMatter?src=hash">#BlackLivesMatter</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BatonRouge?src=hash">#BatonRouge</a> <a href="https://t.co/LCwAyP1AJA">pic.twitter.com/LCwAyP1AJA</a>—@lizzkatherine_
"The world needed to see how the police claim they protect and serve us in Louisiana," she said.
La. governor says police response 'moderate'
Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards told a news conference earlier on Sunday that he was proud of how the police had handled the protests so far, saying law enforcement had responded in a "moderate" manner. He also said the vast majority of protesters had acted lawfully and non-violently.
Protesters from Louisiana or out of state will not be allowed "to incite hate and violence, to engage in unlawful activities," Edwards told a news conference. "Now I want to be very clear. That will not be tolerated."
Edwards also said that blocking traffic was cause for arrest.
The Baton Rouge police spokesman, Sgt. Don Coppola, blamed some violence and the large number of arrests on outside agitators. One officer lost teeth to a projectile thrown outside police headquarters, and police also confiscated three rifles, three shotguns and two pistols, he said.
Earlier Sunday, some 2,000 people rallied outside the Capitol building to protest police killings of black people, State Police Maj. Doug Cain said.
"They didn't have any problems out there. They seemed to be very organized and peaceful," Cain said.
More than 100 people were arrested in the state Saturday night and Sunday morning, mostly for misdemeanors for not leaving a major thoroughfare known as Airline Highway. Those arrested included DeRay Mckesson, an activist and former Baltimore mayoral candidate.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackLivesMatter?src=hash">#BlackLivesMatter</a> activist Deray Mckesson released from custody. This is the first of several of his tweets <a href="https://t.co/S9kWraktHG">https://t.co/S9kWraktHG</a>—@CBCLorenda
Memphis police lock arms with protesters
Hundreds of protesters angry over police killings of black people occupied a key bridge over the Mississippi River Sunday night, blocking an interstate highway for hours before officers moved them off.
Traffic on Interstate 40 stopped in both directions after Black Lives Matter protesters marched onto the bridge. Police in squad cars tried to stop them, but several hundred had already made their way up the ramp, and the crowd swelled to more than 1,000.
Interim police director Michael Rallings locked arms in solidarity with people marching off the bridge. Several hundred remained until riot police with shields slowly pushed them off.
When the police director& protesters walk together arm in arm you know the city is unified <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BlackLivesMatterMemphis?src=hash">#BlackLivesMatterMemphis</a> <a href="https://t.co/zuRR1oV3yc">pic.twitter.com/zuRR1oV3yc</a>—@BurksAlex
Virginia demonstrators block interstate
Protesters marching in support of the Black Lives Matter movement shut down an interstate in southeastern Virginia as hundreds more marched down streets in several cities in the Hampton Roads region.
WAVY 10 reports that the demonstrators in Portsmouth, Va., walked onto I-264 before the Downtown Tunnel, blocking traffic in both directions. State police had warned the crowd that they would be arrested if they failed to disperse.
Media reports say that shortly after 10 p.m., the protesters were beginning to leave.
With files from Haydn Watters, Reuters, Associated Press