Louisiana police shooting protests move through Baton Rouge
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Protesters angry over the fatal shooting of a black man by two white Baton Rouge police officers rallied Saturday at the convenience store where he was shot, in front of the city's police department and at the state Capitol for another day of demonstrations.
The gatherings came after overnight demonstrations produced tense moments resulting in 30 arrests. The demonstration Saturday outside the Baton Rouge Police Department was at times tense again, as protesters faced off against police dressed in riot gear.
The protesters were demonstrating against the shooting death Tuesday of 37-year-old Alton Sterling. The Department of Justice has opened an investigation into his death, which has angered many in the black community.
Shouting "No justice! No peace!" a few hundred protesters gathered outside the police department, waving homemade signs as passing cars honked their support. Some drivers stopped by with bottles of water.
The protests were still underway at 10:30 p.m. Central Time.
At one point police in riot gear came out to clear the road, as crowds of demonstrators yelled at them. A police spokesman said two firearms were confiscated and several arrests made. A police officer on a microphone told the crowd that as long as they stayed on the grass and not on the road they could remain, and then police eventually pulled back and traffic reopened.
Baton Rouge resident Marie Flowers came to the protest with her three children. She said people in the north Baton Rouge neighborhood where the shooting happened are frustrated.
Pointing to the crowds shouting along a fence surrounding the police department she said: "To me, this is just a snapshot of north Baton Rouge and how frustrated they are. They are so frustrated with this bull crap."
At one point, she gestured to her 12-year-old son and said they were there to protect men like him.
"Black boys are being killed and this is just the culmination of what has been going on for decades," Flowers said.
Lael Montgomery of Baton Rouge was at the convenience store where Sterling was shot.
"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."
Members of the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense called 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 at the convenience store before heading over to the police department. "They are not operating as human beings. They are being predators on our communities across America."
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.
"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, also at the convenience store. 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," Duhnam's statement said. "Tensions were very high last night on both sides. But in the end cooler heads prevailed."