Some questioning latest round of Ferguson arrests
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) - About a dozen protesters were jailed after being arrested during Thursday's protests in Ferguson, and it has some local officials and rights groups questioning if police overreached.
A small number of people gathered outside Ferguson police headquarters, the latest of several protests since the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson. Protesters want Wilson to be charged in the killing of Brown, 18, who was black and unarmed. A grand jury investigation is expected to last into November.
Just before midnight, officers began moving toward the protesters, who were chanting, used plastic restraints on their wrists and put them in a van, according to Gabrielle Hanson, who was at the scene while her mother, freelance videographer Mary Moore, shot video. Moore was among those arrested, Hanson was not.
The reason for the arrests wasn't immediately clear. Patricia Bynes, a Democratic committeewoman from the Ferguson area who was at the protest, said protesters were warned against violence-inciting language, but she didn't know what the protesters said. Other local media reports say the protesters were cited for violating a noise ordinance.
A Ferguson police spokesman did not respond to messages seeking comment.
The protesters were taken to a jail in neighboring St. Ann, and some were placed on 24-hour hold, Bynes said.
Tony Rothert, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union office in St. Louis, said several complaints have been lodged about Thursday's arrests and the ACLU is investigating.
"There do appear to be, if not bogus, at least unnecessary arrests," said Rothert, who had no details about why the protesters were arrested. He also questioned why they'd be jailed on a 24-hour hold.
"Holding people unnecessarily long, arresting them when it's not necessary - that's an indication of overreach," Rothert said. "It certainly appears that the purpose is to discourage people from coming to Ferguson to protest."
Hundreds of people have been arrested during nearly two months of protests in Ferguson, including journalists and clergy members of the clergy. The Rev. Osagyefo Sekou was arrested Monday after he sat down on the sidewalk with other protesters and was charged with failure to disperse - a misdemeanor that is the most common charge protesters have faced.
Hanson said Moore was shooting video of the arrests when one of the protesters handed her a cellphone. When Moore took it, she was arrested, Hanson said, and officers confiscated her camera.
Asked what the protesters were saying or whether they were being noisy, Hanson said, "They were chanting, 'Show me what Democracy looks like.'"
Hanson said the family had received no explanation from police, and that she had not heard from her mother as of Friday morning.
"Nobody really knows what's going on," she said.
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