Nearly 200 Protesters Arrested After Violent Clashes With Baton Rouge Police
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Well, now to Louisiana. The district attorney in East Baton Rouge says his office will not be part of the investigation into the police shooting of Alton Sterling. Since Sterling's death, protesters in Baton Rouge have repeatedly confronted the police, and nearly 200 people have been arrested. NPR's Greg Allen reports.
GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: It's been nearly a week since Sterling was fatally shot by police outside a convenience store, a place he was selling CDs. Police say they were responding to a 911 call from someone who said an African-American man outside the store threatened him with a gun.
Videos of the shooting sparked protests and led Louisiana's governor to quickly ask the FBI and the U.S. attorney to investigate and decide whether federal charges are appropriate. But there had been no information about a state investigation into the police response and Sterling's death until today.
Hillar Moore, the district attorney for East Baton Rouge, called a news conference to announce that he's recusing himself and his office from the case. He explained why.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
HILLAR MOORE: I've been involved in the law enforcement business either as an investigator, criminal defense lawyer and DA for 42 years. And the bulk of those years, I've known the parents of one of these officers.
ALLEN: The two officers involved in the shooting are on administrative leave. It will now be up to Louisiana's attorney general to decide whether they should face charges. One of the officers is 28-year-old Blaine Salamoni. His father is currently a police commander in charge of Baton Rouge's SWAT team.
The East Baton Rouge DA said he will remain involved in the cases of some 200 protesters who have been arrested over the last two nights. The majority of those protesters have been released on bond. Moore said it will be some time before his office will be able to file charges against most of those arrested. He defended the police action, though, and blamed some of the trouble on protesters from outside of the area.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
MOORE: Yesterday, if my numbers are correct, there were 50 or 52 people that were arrested, and I want to say that 30 to 35 were not from Baton Rouge, from out of the city. And I think that you'll see that a lot of the folks that agitated or have agitated have been from out of the state.
UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Chanting) No justice, no peace - no racist police - no justice, no peace...
ALLEN: Yesterday, a rally at the state capitol started peacefully but became heated as protesters began marching the Baton Rouge Police headquarters on a major thoroughfare, Airline Highway. Police in riot gear blocked protesters as they began moving onto nearby streets and began making arrests. On Sunday before the latest wave of protests and arrests, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards said the police will continue to make sure major roads remain open.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
JOHN BEL EDWARDS: They are able to march from wherever they want to march from to wherever they want to march to, and they are kept safe en route. It is not, however, appropriate to allow them to simply block a major thoroughfare like Airline Highway.
EDWARDS: Outside Baton Rouge's city hall today, the demonstrations continued with protesters calling on Baton Rouge's mayor, who's kept a low profile since the shooting, to resign. Greg Allen, NPR News, Baton Rouge. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.