Clashes occur at Saturday's Baton Rouge protest; some arrested, disarmed

Clashes occur at Saturday's Baton Rouge protest; some arrested, disarmed
Posted at 8:11 PM, Jul 09, 2016

Protesters gathered again Saturday at a Baton Rouge convenience store for another day of demonstrations following the fatal shooting of a black man by two white police officers in the store's parking lot.

The gathering at the Triple S convenience store came after overnight demonstrations produced tense moments resulting in 30 arrests.

The demonstrations protested Tuesday's shooting of Alton Sterling, whose death was captured on cellphone video.

Lael Montgomery of Baton Rouge said he came out to protest racism in the community.

"I've been in active in the community for years. We have been suffering police brutality for a long time. A lot of racism has been going on here for a long time," he said. "I have kids. They need to be raised in a better environment than they're in."

Some of the protesters walked over to the police department while others were planning to take part in a demonstration later Saturday, marching from City Hall to the state Capitol.

Members of the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense were also on hand, calling for the arrest and indictment of the officers involved in Sterling's shooting, shouting "Black Power" and raising their fists.

"These are human rights violations," Krystal Muhammad shouted to the crowd. "They are not operating as human beings. They are being predators on our communities across America."

But Montgomery said he didn't want protesters to go to the police station, saying he knows that police are on edge following the Thursday shooting deaths of five officers in Dallas. Tempers flared on Friday night in Baton Rouge when hundreds of demonstrators gathered in front of the Baton Rouge Police Department, demonstrating against the shooting. Authorities said 30 people were arrested during the late-night demonstrations.

"I know they are on edge. That's why I don't want them to go to the police station," he said. "I respect the police too. They got a job to do. They're scared too. Of course you got your bad apples but all police aren't bad."

Those safety concerns were also on the mind of Baton Rouge resident Eugene Collins. He said he was at the demonstrations Friday as well to help keep demonstrators away from police.

"We don't need to go around here tearing up our communities. We don't want young people getting arrested. We don't want anyone getting arrested. And we definitely don't want any of these folks tear gassed, stun gunned or getting shot in the process. Peace is the most important," he said.

Baton Rouge police said in a written statement they are investigating a newspaper website's video that appears to show an officer with his weapon temporarily drawn at one point early Saturday morning as angry protesters confronted police.

"We are reviewing the video. It's difficult to tell why the officer pulled his weapon. We are working to identify this officer so we can better understand the reason he might have done this," said the emailed statement from Lt. Jonny Dunham of the Baton Rouge Police Department.

"After the Dallas murder of five officers at a protest the night before officers are very cautious and on the lookout for any threat," Dunnam's statement said. "Tensions were very high last night on both sides. But in the end cooler heads prevailed."