UPDATE: 10:05 a.m., JULY 9, 2016
?About 20 to 30 protesters were arrested and booked into Parish Prison stemming from a demonstration Friday night and early Saturday morning outside Baton Rouge Police headquarters, an official said.
Baton Rouge Police spokesman Cpl. L'Jean McKneely said he did not know what counts the protesters face and didn't immediately have information on their names. Officials at the Parish Prison and the East Baton Rouge Sheriff's office did not immediately respond to queries.
Numerous people were seen detained, some restrained with zip ties around their wrists, during the fourth night of protests after Alton Sterling was killed by a Baton Rouge police officer on Tuesday in Baton Rouge. A source has said that Police Officer Blane Salamoni, one of two officers caught by cell phone video in the altercation with Sterling, shot him.
The head of the State Police defended his troopers' work Friday night and early Saturday morning as lawmen faced off with a crowd protesting the police killing of Alton Sterling.
"I think they did well," said Col. Mike Edmonson of his troopers, some of whom were seen outfitted with helmets and assault-style weapons strapped across the front of their bodies.
"We're not about a show of aggression," he said. Edmonson said some of his troopers were hit in the head by frozen bottles of water thrown by protesters.
At various points throughout the night, a crowd blocked Airline Highway, completely stopping traffic in both directions.
The main concern by law enforcement was not allowing a demonstrator to be hit by a vehicle in the middle of that road, where police headquarters is located, Edmonson said.
An officer believed to be on the Baton Rouge Police force was seen pointing what appeared to be gun at multiple people in the crowd as he tried to drag a woman away. The lawman reholstered his weapon and the woman eventually was pulled by protesters back into the crowd.
BRPD Lt. Jonny Dunnam agreed that a video showed an officer appearing to pull his handgun, while another officer seen in the same video had his Taser out. Dunnam said the agency was reviewing the video.
"It's difficult to tell why the officer pulled his weapon. We are working to identify this officer so we can better understand the reason he might have done this," Dunnam said. "After the Dallas murder of five officers at a protest the night before officers are very cautious and on the lookout for any threat."
Dunnam noted that "tensions were very high" at the protest, but said "cooler heads prevailed."
UPDATE: 2:10 a.m., JULY 9, 2016
A group of protesters around Baton Rouge police headquarters had almost entirely dispersed by around 1:45 a.m. Saturday after police detained at least a dozen and maybe more people.
Over the course of the Friday protest about the police shooting of Alton Sterling earlier this week, around 100 people remained late into the night near Airline Highway and Goodwood Boulevard. At not long past midnight, the group of protesters walked down the street from the gas station where they had been located for much of the night at Airline and Goodwood Boulevard.
After they walked down Airline, the group eventually formed a human chain, sitting down to block the street (click here to see video).. At that point, two officers tried to grab a young woman, but other protesters wrestled her away. During that exchange, one officer drew a weapon, but later reholstered it.
Can't see video? Click here.
Sharon Arceneaux, 49, of Baton Rouge, said she was protesting for the second night with her 21-year-old daughter visiting from Mississippi, where the young woman is attending college.
“I just hope it opens up their eyes. All we want to be is treated fairly,” Arceneaux said.
Arceneaux, who is black, said though she lives in a nice neighborhood, she’s worried her 16-year-old son could be stopped playing basketball outside his own house because an officer might assume he doesn’t live there.
“I’m scared to death to teach him to drive,” she said, noting driving could put her son in more direct contact with police.
“That’s a bad way to live in 2016,” she said.
Several hours before lawmen in riot gear faced off with protesters, Baton Rouge law enforcement officials had been extolling their exercise of restraint.
“We do not want to appear to have a military-style response,” Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie Jr. said during a news conference early Friday.
“We’re there, we’re around, and we’re keeping everything safe, but we’ve tried to be respectful and reduce our presence at these events.”
Dabadie acknowledged taking down lessons from related uprisings, like in Ferguson, Missouri, two years ago, where police appeared to be militarized too soon. He said undercover officers have been at the Triple S protests all week, and other officers have been on standby for any emergencies.
Earlier Friday, Cornell W. Brooks, the NAACP president and CEO, who traveled from Baltimore to Baton Rouge on Friday, commended the toned-down police presence while he visited the store where Sterling was killed in the parking lot, a few miles away from the Police Department.
“When you militarize a civil rights conflict, you elevate the temperature and decrease the reason and rationality and the capacity of people to reach a resolution,” Brooks said. “If, on the other hand, the police stand down and stand in a position of protection, so that people understand that they’re a resource and not an occupying army, you facilitate the resolution.”
Another contingent of protesters remained at the Triple S store on Friday, where some officers were seen early in the evening, but the mood was calmer. The number of protesters at the store grew throughout the evening, and no police presence could be seen by about 10 p.m.
Baton Rouge police officers as of Friday were being required to work 12-hour shifts with no days off at least through the weekend, McKneely said.
Earlier in the day, the FBI’s New Orleans Field Division had warned law enforcement agencies in Baton Rouge and Shreveport to be watchful for potential violence in the coming days, citing a host of social media posts about Sterling’s killing.
In a so-called “Potential Activity Alert,” the FBI highlighted social media missives that include calls to protest over the killing and a violent computer-generated graphic of a policeman being slit in the neck by a masked man. The FBI wrote in the report, distributed to law enforcement and obtained by The Advocate, that information forwarded to the agency suggested “multiple groups are calling for or planning riots and/or violence against law enforcement” in those communities.
Craig Betbeze, a spokesman for the FBI New Orleans division, did not verify the report but said the agency sometimes issues memos about possible threats. He emphasized that documents with raw information should not be confused with actionable intelligence.
“At this time, there are no specific or credible threats to the state of Louisiana. However, the public is still reminded to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity to the appropriate law enforcement authorities,” he said.
Advocate staff writer Bryn Stole contributed to this report.