BATON ROUGE, La. ― Police on Friday night faced off with several hundred protesters in Baton Rouge who were demanding justice for victims of police brutality, particularly Alton Sterling, who was killed here Tuesday.
At least 100 officers, some in riot gear, tried to keep the protesters contained on the sidewalk outside the city’s police department, and several engaged in heated exchanges with protesters who demanded they be allowed to march into the street. Protesters eventually did so, marching down Airline Highway and shutting down traffic in one direction as cops followed.
Most of the earlier exchanges had been verbal, though some protesters threw bottles at the officers. Police arrested at least three protesters who initially moved off the sidewalk, and also threatened to arrest a group of teenage girls who were picking up the bottles and other trash from the street.
Tensions were high after a sniper killed five law enforcement officers at a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in Dallas on Thursday, allegedly citing revenge for recent police shootings as a motive. That massacre came midway through a week already marked with tragedy: The day after police killed Sterling, a 37-year-old father of five, an officer shot and killed Philando Castile, 32, during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. The shootings of both black men were caught on graphic and widely shared videos, and sparked renewed calls for reforming police use of force and the criminal justice system.
“We need answers. Someone needs to be charged with (Sterling’s) murder,” Baton Rouge resident Nadarrian Shearrill told The Advocate.
One police officer in riot gear, who would not provide his name, pinned the fault of the confrontation on the media for supposedly “poking the bull.”
Demonstrations against Sterling’s death, which protesters had previously held in front of the convenience store where he was killed, had not been met with a heavy police presence until Friday night, according to The Advocate.
This is a developing story; please check back for updates.