As reactions mount in relation to the recent fatal police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, resulting Black Lives Matter protests have led to hundreds of arrests at protests and demonstrations throughout the United States.
In Rochester, New York, a Friday protest of up to 400 people led to conflicting reports thereafter involving the use of police force against arrested. 74 people were arrested in total.
A report on the protests by the Democrat & Chronicle highlights the discrepancies in which the arrests were carried out according to protesters disputing the statements made by police chief Michael Ciminelli that the Rochester Police Department carried out arrests without resorting to force or the use of weapons like batons or pepper spray.
Time Warner Cable News carried the police chief’s statement that came in the early hours of Saturday morning.
“We handled a fairly large scale protest, again, with no injury, no use of any weapons.”
The statement immediately drew criticism from those who participated in the demonstrations in Downtown Rochester that evening, including city resident and protester Richard Yaniak.
“I watched [Police Chief Ciminelli’s statement] from the hospital bed, because I was injured.”
Time Warner Cable News also noted that protesters had claimed the use of pepper spray by the RPD in their attempts to disperse the crowds.
Two reporters, Carlet Cleare and Justin Carter, both with the city’s ABC affiliate 13 WHAM were arrested on live television during their coverage of the protests. Upon being identified, Chief Ciminelli released the reporters and issued an apology. The Rochester Police Department is investigating the incident.
Issuing a statement, the station expressed concerns over what happened.
As a news organization, we are continuing to investigate the police handling of the situation and will have further dialogue on the issue with the city in the coming days. While we understand and value the importance of the police in our communities, we are also very protective of our First Amendment Rights as free journalists. No society can be fully secure if journalists cannot freely report on important events that affect the people of a community.
Elsewhere, in St. Paul, Minnesota, where it was in the suburbs of the city that Philando Castile was fatally shot, a Black Lives Matter Protest led to 102 arrests, according NBC affiliate KARE 11.
As protesters shut down Interstate 94, the clashes between police and protesters broke out, with up to 21 officers from multiple departments reporting injuries from rocks, fireworks, bricks, and bottles directed at them by protesters said to be unaffiliated with Black Lives Matter. Police tried to force a dispersal from the highway.
The shut down lasted for over five hours, as the road block began around 7:30 p.m. after a march from the Governor’s residence, where they had been gathering for three days. Police attempts to prevent the marchers from accessing the interstate were unsuccessful.
In Baton Rouge, where Alton Sterling was killed on Tuesday evening, prominent civil rights activist and educator DeRay McKesson was participating in protests there while providing several updates to social media accounts before being arrested by members of the Baton Rouge Police Department.
McKesson made several Tweets in a row about the provocations by members of the Baton Rouge PD.
Local news reported that police in the Louisiana capital arrested over 10o protesters, engaging in their fifth sustained day of protests after the shooting of Alton Sterling.
Among those arrested, according to WFAB 9, a CBS affiliate in the city, were several journalists including one of its own.
Amid chants of “No justice! No peace!” around 1,000 protesters gathered outside the Baton Rouge Police Department. The protests lasted into the night, but began to thin after midnight.
[Photo by Ross D. Franklin/AP Images]