Why Was BLM’s DeRay McKesson Arrested During Baton Rouge Protest?

Amna Shoaib
McKesson had been live-streaming the police brutality protest on Periscope when he was taken into custody.

DeRay McKesson, one of the most recognizable faces of the Black Lives Matter movement, was arrested during a protest against police brutality in Baton Rouge. The demonstration followed many others from a community enraged by the recent fatal police shootings of Alton Stirling and Philando Castile.

McKesson was reportedly approached by police officers as he was walking alongside Airline Highway with other protesters. 

Suddenly, a cop told McKesson that he would be arrested if he walks on the road. When the activist pointed out there was no sidewalk to walk on instead, he was taken into custody.

McKesson live-streamed his arrest on Periscope.



"I am arrested, y'all," he exclaimed as a police officer cautioned him to not fight him.

The struggle eventually knocked the smartphone off McKesson's end, abruptly ending his live-stream.

In blurry clips of the encounter, the officer can be heard saying that the man in the "loud shoes" had been flagged. He was apparently referring to McKesson's trademark red Nike shoes; the 32-year-old is known for wearing them to every protest along with a blue vest.

The police at that time were forcefully dispersing the crowd. McKesson joined the throng of people who were peacefully leaving the site of the protest. 


The arrest was described as aggressive by fellow protesters.

"They tackled him, one officer hit the top of his body and another officer the bottom," Brittany Packnett, a civil rights activist and one of the co-founders of McKesson's group, Campaign Zero, told the Washington Post. “He was clearly targeted.”

Before his arrest, McKesson was continually updating his Twitter followers on the protest. At one point during the live-stream, he says, "The police of Baton Rouge have been truly awful today. The police have been violent tonight, the protesters have not."

Following his arrest, McKesson's supporters took to Twitter to point out how it was evident from videos and protesters' accounts that he was arrested without cause. In fact, he was exercising his right as a free citizen.


Many wondered why it took two police officers to ambush McKesson. He was not armed and had not threatened the police with violence. Why did the dissenting voice of a black man had to be shut out with force?