Black Lives Matter Activist DeRay McKesson Arrest Sparks Outrage at Baton Rouge Protests

DeRay McKesson was arrested and charged with obstruction of a highway during the weekend's protests in Louisiana

Photo: Max Becherer/AP

Protests continued in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Sunday following the Saturday arrest of prominent Black Lives Matter activist DeRay McKesson.

McKesson, 31, was arrested Saturday protesting last week’s fatal police shooting of 37-year-old Alton Sterling. He was charged with simple obstruction of a highway of commerce, according to booking documents obtained by PEOPLE.

“During the protest, the defendant entered the roadway and was provided another verbal order to exit the lanes of travel,” police documents state. “Moments later, the defendant entered the roadway again and was taken into custody by officers on scene without incident.”

McKesson was taken to East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office jail and released on Sunday, according to the documents.

His arrest prompted celebrities to post Twitter messages in support of the activist.

“#FreeDeRay & free all who were unlawfully arrested last night NOW!!!” actress Gabrielle Union tweeted on Sunday.

Actress Rashida Jones wrote: “I wish people would protect the First Amendment with the same fervor as they have the Second Amendment. #FreeDeray.”

Black Lives Matter supporters set up a CrowdRise fundraiser called the “Baton Rouge Bail Fund” to aid those arrested in the protests. Police made nearly 200 arrests in Baton Rouge over the weekend, according to the Associated Press.

The fundraiser has reached more than $200,000.

Last week, two black men were fatally shot by police: Sterling was shot by an officer outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge early Tuesday morning. On Wednesday evening, Philando Castile, a 32-year-old Minnesota man, was shot by an officer during a traffic stop.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Model and actress, Zendaya, posted a message to Twitter in the wake of the activist’s arrest, writing, “We need our leaders #FreeDeray.”

McKesson described his time in jail in a series of tweets.

“At times, all 50 of us were in one cell, unable to all sit, sleeping on the floor or under the benches,” he tweeted. “But our spirits remained strong.”

“In the Parrish prison cells, we continued to talk about the work of social justice & to build community,” he wrote in another tweet. “We all continue to grow.”

McKesson also live-tweeted the events of the protest, posting photos and videos of both the protesters and the police.

“Remember, airline highway was not blocked by protesters,” he wrote. “But the police have been aggressors anyway #BatonRouge.”

In another post, he wrote, “Again, the protesters have been peaceful tonight. The police have been violent. #Baton Rouge.”

McKesson works for the Baltimore public schools as interim chief of human capital, according to the Associated Press.

A former teacher with a large social media following, McKesson has emerged as one of the most recognizable faces of the Black Lives Matter movement.

He put in a last-minute bid to become mayor of Baltimore. He finished a distant sixth among a large field of Democrats in the April primary, according to the AP.

Related Articles