Frank Scurlock, a candidate for New Orleans mayor and would-be developer of the former Six Flags amusement park site in New Orleans East, was arrested Saturday night at the Jefferson Davis statue on Canal Street.
In a video posted to YouTube, Scurlock can be seen calling out to officers behind the barricade that has been in place around the statue — slated to be taken down by the city — since last week, while also talking on his phone to a 911 operator trying to get information about the police deployment.
The video was taken by someone who goes by SHUTTERSHOT45, who was apparently in town to document Sunday's protests surrounding the group of Confederate monuments the city wants to dismantle.
Scurlock said he had not met the videographer and wasn't aware of the video until contacted by the media Monday afternoon.
When he doesn't get an answer, the video shows, Scurlock begins following an officer who is leaving the area behind the barricade.
The officer tells Scurlock several times, "Don't walk up on me." When Scurlock continues to follow him, the officer shoves him into a fence. More officers then swarm out from behind the barricade and arrest Scurlock.
When Scurlock asks what he did wrong, another officer says, "When an officer tells you to back off, he feels threatened. Do not walk up on him."
"My civil rights, liberty and everything granted to me by the Constitution of the United States of America was taken away from me by the New Orleans Police Department," Scurlock said in an interview Monday.
He said he was detained in handcuffs for several hours and his three phones were broken when officers frisked him. He was booked on a municipal count of obstructing a public place.
The citation for the incident states that Scurlock "rattled the fence where he wasn't allowed to cross," something he acknowledged he did to get officers' attention. The citation goes on to accuse Scurlock of bumping the officer, something he denied and which he is not seen doing on the video.
Scurlock, who said he opposes the monuments' removal because it could ignite a "Civil War II," said he only just started learning about the city's two-year-old effort to remove the monuments.
He said he had hoped to question the police about the timeline for the planned removals and to ask whether they were working on the city's dime or if they were there as a private detail.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office has said repeatedly that the city will not release a schedule for the statue's removal due to security concerns.
Scurlock said he hadn't realized there had been a City Council vote in December 2015 authorizing the removal of the Davis statue as well as monuments to Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard and a marker commemorating the Reconstruction-era Battle of Liberty Place.
Scurlock previously paid for skywriters to fly over the Capitol in Baton Rouge while a state House committee was debating a bill that would block the monuments' removal.