Jail records obtained by NBC News show that at least 78 people were arrested overnight at the protests in Ferguson, Missouri — more than double the total reported by authorities — and that the overwhelming majority of them were from Missouri.
Of the 78, all but three were arrested for refusing to disperse, the records show. Two people, both from the St. Louis area, were arrested for unlawful use of a weapon, and a man from Rockton, Illinois, was arrested for interfering with an officer.
Authorities had reported early that 31 people were arrested overnight. Authorities early Tuesday blamed people from out of town for some criminal activity.
The records reflect people who were booked into the St. Louis County jail. It is possible, but not clear, that others were booked at other jails.
The records show that 18 people from outside Missouri were arrested Monday night and early Tuesday. They came came from as far away as Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., and San Diego.
Police said that they were fired on and had Molotov cocktails thrown at them overnight. Several people who were arrested and spoke to NBC News on Tuesday, however, blamed the police for overreacting to the protesters.
One of the people arrested for refusing to disperse, Kyle Niere, 23, told NBC News by phone on Tuesday that he was dragged from his truck by law enforcement officers as he was trying to drive away from the protests.
“They drug us all out,” said Niere, who said he lives in Ferguson and was among a group of 12 people arrested. “Face-first on the ground, stepping on the back of our heads. They’re being brutal for no reason. None of us were violent. We were just there.”
Niere estimated that about 20 law enforcement officers, all from St. Louis County, descended on his truck. He said that they were protesting near the QuikTrip station, a landmark of the demonstrations, when police began firing tear gas.
He said that his group walked through a residential neighborhood to get to the truck, with the intention of driving away.
“They said that we just looked like the type that were going to stir up drama and go start looting,” said another person from the same group, Tina Hanna, 24, of the St. Louis suburb of Florissant. She said the arrests took place just after 2 a.m. CT.
Both said that they were held overnight and released. Asked why he was protesting, Niere said: “Because I think that kid was wrongfully shot,” referring to Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was gunned down by a Ferguson police officer Aug. 9.
Even if Brown assaulted the officer, he said, “I thought that’s why cops carry mace and non-lethal weapons.”
He said that the arrest of the officer, Darren Wilson, would stop the protests.
“I think that would completely settle everything,” he said.
Chozen Botley, 34, of the St. Louis suburb of Jennings, said that police were looking for a reason to crack down on protesters.
“There is no outside instigator,” he said. “Mike Brown is in all of us. He’s with all of us. The brutality that we face as black Americans, you can face the same brutality as a white American. I just want to let the world know that all of the stuff that’s going on in Jennings, in Ferguson — there is no outsiders because we are all one.”
The Highway Patrol is in charge of security in Ferguson, backed by the Missouri National Guard. Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson told MSNBC on Tuesday that he hoped the peaceful protesters would stay home after dark.
“Protest during the daytime and stay home at night, and let us take those that have been out ruining our community and take them and deal with them in a way that brings calm to this community,” he said.