An elected official who was arrested Wednesday during a fourth night of unrest in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, told reporters that the "heavy-handed" police officers "picked up the wrong people." Antonio French, an alderman who has been live-tweeting the police and protester clashes prompted by an officer shooting unarmed teen Michael Brown to death over the weekend, said those thrown behind bars are reverends and young people organizing peace efforts. "Inside that jail is nothing but peacekeepers," he said.
Several hundred people were peacefully protesting Wednesday night, he said, and the situation escalated once police stepped in around 9 p.m. First they released smoke bombs; when that didn't disperse the crowd entirely, "police started moving forward with tear gas, and that's when the chaos started." The officers told residents to go home or to their cars, but French said once he got to his car, police opened the door and dragged him out to arrest him. "The heavy-handed police approach is actually making the situation worse," he said, adding that there haven't been "a lot of constructive conversations going on between demonstrators and police."
First published August 14 2014, 8:34 AM