Police stationed across Baton Rouge with big marching order: Keep Alton Sterling protesters off interstates, major roads _lowres

Advocate staff photo by TERRY JONES -- About a dozen protesters gathered Monday morning near the Mississippi River Bridge, but they did not block traffic, officials said.

Baton Rouge police on Monday posted officers near the city’s interstate system and most major thoroughfares to deter protesters from blocking traffic as the possibility of more rallies continued over the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling.

“We have been very open with our concerns about the highway system,” State Police spokesman Doug Cain said Monday morning. “When you disrupt the highway system it becomes unsafe to the protesters, the motorists and it disrupts the daily lives of everyone.”

Officers were posted near the on-ramps along Interstate 10, Interstate 110, Mississippi River Bridge and La. 190 bridge.

The East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office and Baton Rouge Police Department both had helicopters hovering over the downtown Baton Rouge area for the past two days, according to East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s spokeswoman Casey Rayborn Hicks.

State Police also brought in assistance from the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, who had deputies “strategically posted” near the major thoroughfares on the west side of the Mississippi River Bridge.

Col. Richie Johnson, spokesman for the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, said the agency deployed 132 officers.

About a dozen protesters had gathered Monday morning at a gas station along La. 415 in Port Allen. But Johnson said the group quickly dispersed.

“I can’t really say if that had anything to do with them seeing us out there,” he said.

Authorities said they have been working to keep traffic flowing along the city’s main arteries and interstate system as the number of protests and rallies have increased throughout the Baton Rouge area.

Cain said Monday authorities want to prevent protesters — many of whom are from out of town — from blocking traffic like what has happened in major cities recently like Atlanta and Oakland, Calif.

What had been a peaceful protest Sunday in downtown Baton Rouge changed quickly to a confrontation with police when crowds began to move toward Government Street and the I-110 on-ramp.

“They have to do it in an orderly fashion and within the parameters of the law,” Cain said about protesting. “But if we get a group that wants to be disruptive to the highway system, we’re going to put people in place to shut it down.”

Follow Terry Jones on Twitter @tjonesreporter.