Prominent "Black Lives Matter" organizer DeRay McKesson strongly defended the movement after a deadly ambush on law enforcement in Dallas that many have linked to anti-police brutality protests.
When asked about the Dallas shooting and criticism by some of the rhetoric of the BLM movement, McKesson said that, while there were more questions than answers about the shooter Micah Johnson's motivations, “the movement didn’t cause anything.”
“We should not have to protest. We should not be in the streets,” McKesson said on MSNBC in one of his first interviews following his own arrest at a protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Saturday.
“The movement didn’t cause anything, the police killing people is what caused all of this. The movement has been a response to the violence in communities.”
McKesson was among more than 100 protesters arrested in Baton Rouge Saturday night during massive demonstrations against the officer involved shooting death of Alton Sterling in Louisiana on July 5. He live-streamed his arrest on Periscope.
“The arrests will not make any of us afraid to tell the truth,” McKesson said.
McKesson, a former educator, took on a leadership role in the movement and built a national following in 2014 after the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown.
McKesson was taken into custody Saturday night for “simple obstruction of highway commerce,” according to court records. Baton Rouge police said in an affidavit that McKesson and other protesters purposely placed themselves on the road,
McKesson said he disagrees with the police's decision to arrest him, saying that his Periscope video would show “it was clear I was not in the street.”
“I think that it will be proven that the police offers were provoking protesters the entire time and I was just one of the many people they were provoking in order to create a climate of fear and chaos to exploit,” he said.
“The officer made a statement to me about being in the street, I complied with the statement and I was snuck up on from behind by a set of officers who arrested me,” he said.
Authorities have not yet dropped the charges, and McKesson has obtained an attorney, he said.
McKesson was released from the East Baton Rouge Parish Jail on Sunday afternoon.
The ACLU said in a statement Monday that the protesters were “exercising their lawful rights.”
“We were on the scene and witnessed police in full riot gear with assault rifles while individuals were exercising their lawful rights and posed no threat,” the organization said. “The police lunged and grabbed at peacefully assembled people and threw them to the ground. Such misconduct violates the constitution and is serving to escalate an environment already filled with tension.”