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More Than 200 People Arrested At Protests In Louisiana And Minnesota

Protesters gathered around the country Saturday. And while the demonstrations were largely peaceful, tensions erupted in Minnesota and Louisiana, where police arrested more than 200 people.

Police in St. Paul, Minnesota, said they arrested 102 people after demonstrators blocked an interstate roadway for several hours.

As we reported, the protesters marched from the governor's mansion in St. Paul to Interstate 94, and police fired tear gas at demonstrators after they blocked the roadway. "21 officers from multiple agencies were injured on I-94 and other areas of the city," the St. Paul Police department said on Twitter, adding that protestors were setting off fireworks and throwing bricks. As Minnesota Public Radio reported, "none suffered serious injuries."

Of the 102 people arrested, the police said 52 were arrested for "public nuisance and unlawful assembly" and 50 for "3rd degree riot."

"At a news conference Sunday morning, St. Paul police Chief Todd Axtell called Saturday night the most violent he's seen in his 28-year career," MPR reported.

Police officers launch smoke bombs and tear gas to clear out protesters who shut down highway I-94 on Saturday in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Stephen Maturen / Getty Images
Getty Images
Police officers launch smoke bombs and tear gas to clear out protesters who shut down highway I-94 on Saturday in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Demonstrators have gathered at the governor's mansion since Wednesday night's fatal police shooting of Philando Castile, as The Associated Press reported.

In Baton Rouge, hundreds gathered at an intersection next to Baton Rouge police headquarters to call for justice in the shooting death of Alton Sterling, as reporter Jesse Hardman told our Newscast unit.

Police took 101 people into custody, police spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks told the Associated Press. A Baton Rouge Parish Prison official told The Washington Postthat "more than 120 people were arrested overnight at multiple protests sites across the Louisiana capital."

Among those arrested is DeRay McKesson, one of the best-known activists from the Black Lives Matter movement. He was live-streaming the protest over Periscope at the time. As he and other protesters walk alongside Airline Highway, a policeman can be heard warning McKesson, "if you get any closer [to the road] you're going to jail," as we reported.

Mckesson appears to heed the officer's warning, but moments later a policeman suddenly comes up behind him and tells him he is under arrest. The camera shakes and Mckesson can be heard saying, "I'm under arrest, y'all." According to police records obtained by The Advocate, Mckesson was charged with "simple obstruction of a highway of commerce."

"The police have been provocateurs all night," he said in the moments leading up to his arrest. "The protestors have been solid. The protestors haven't hurt anybody. Weren't blocking the street or anything."

According to The Washington Post, Mckesson was released from custody on Sunday afternoon.

WWNO reporter Ryan Kailath was also taken into police custody, the New Orleans-based member station tells NPR. The station saidhe was booked on one count of obstruction of the highway.

As Hardman reports, "A spokesman for the state police said officers were only targeting protesters who were obstructing the road."

In San Francisco, protesters rallied for hours on Saturday and "at different times closed three ramps leading to and from the Bay Bridge," as SFGate reported. Demonstrations were also reported in many other cities, including New York, Philadelphia, Denver and San Antonio.

You can find our full coverage of the demonstrations around the country over the past few days here.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Merrit Kennedy is a reporter for NPR's News Desk. She covers a broad range of issues, from the latest developments out of the Middle East to science research news.
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