#BlackLivesMatter advocate DeRay Mckesson arrested during Baton Rouge protest, released

Prominent #BlackLivesMatter advocate and out gay man DeRay Mckesson was arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Saturday, July 9 during one of many protests taking place nationwide for racial equality and an end to targeted violence against the Black community. He was released the following day.

On DeRay’s arrest, Vanity Fair reports:

In Baton Rouge, McKesson, a public radio reporter, and many others were arrested after marching down Airline Highway, where police had warned them to not stray onto the road. McKesson, who filmed the encounter on Periscope, repeatedly pointed out that they weren’t blocking the street and that there was no sidewalk in the area where they were marching.

In the background of his video, a police officer is heard shouting, “You with them loud shoes, I see you in the road. If I get close to you, you’re going to jail.” McKesson, who is known for wearing red Nike sneakers and a blue vest to the protests he attends, said, “I think he’s talking to me, y’all.”

“The police continue to just provoke people,” McKesson said in the video. About five minutes into the broadcast, McKesson was arrested, the video going shaky as his phone was passed to fellow protestors. The Washington Post reports McKesson was charged with obstructing a highway of commerce.

Witnesses to the arrest described it as physically violent. “They tackled him,” Brittany Packnett, co-founder with McKesson of the activist collective Campaign Zero, told the Washington Post. “One officer hit the top of his body and another officer the bottom.”

DeRay's release was first reported on Twitter by racial justice advocate Netta Elzie, who works closely with DeRay, and confirmed by numerous leading outlets.

As a featured speaker at the 2015 GLAAD Gala San Francisco, DeRay discussed advocacy, social media, and the intersection of being Black and gay. Indeed, social media has been an integral component in the advocacy for Black Lives Matter, a racial justice movement founded by Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza—who are members of the LGBT community--and Opal Tometi

During his speech in San Francisco, DeRay said:

The Black Lives Matter movement has helped people come out of "the quiet" about racism in America, but the fight for equality and equity is long. It is not just a fight about race, it is also a fight about systemic and structural issues that affect so many of us around LGBT issues as well. People like me. Each of us will have to continue to find the people who are in "the quiet" and create space for and with them to come out of "the quiet."

Many people have used social media to spread the word far and wide about violence against Black people in America. Most recently, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and ‎Alva Braziel lost their lives at the hands of police. Alton and Alva’s deaths were captured on now widely-shared videos and the aftermath of Philando’s shooting was broadcast on Facebook Live.

The night he was arrested, DeRay was live tweeting as well as broadcasting the protest in Baton Rouge and his arrest in real time using Periscope.

Following his arrest, conversations sprung up across social media under the hashtags #WhereIsDeRay and #FreeDeRay.

Bayard Rustin, a key leading figure in the Civil Rights Movement of the 20th century and a gay man, also began trending on Twitter after DeRay's arrest, as social media users recognized the long-standing and invaluable contributions of LGBT Black leaders to the efforts for full equality.

On Friday, GLAAD responded to the wave of violence across Baton Rouge, Falcon Heights, and Dallas. “When will it end?” asked GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “How many more lives have to be lost or broken before the senseless violence is stopped?”

You can contact your Congress person about the importance of racial equality here. You can also watch DeRay’s speech about his advocacy and identities at the GLAAD Gala San Francisco here:

GLAAD is committed to amplifying the diverse voices and needs of, and to acclerating full acceptance for, the LGBT community, including those living at the intersection of being LGBT and Black.