Live updates: State Troopers in riot gear confront Black Panther protesters with weapons

Follow The Advocate’s team of reporters in the feed below as they update from Saturday’s protests.

Update: 8:30 p.m.

About 500 people gathered at the state Capitol after marching from City Hall in support of Alton Sterling.
Chanting “No justice, no peace” and “black lives matter,” the ralliers were told they should stay as long as they wanted but were urged to remain peaceful.

“This is our city and we will not destroy our city,” one speaker told the crowd.
Baton Rouge state Reps. Ted James and Pat Smith were among the marchers, as was Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker.

Wicker, reading a statement on behalf of black elected leaders, called for the protests that have stretched for five days to pause on the day of Sterling’s funeral.

“We remain diligent in the pursuit of justice,” she said, reading the statement.

By 8 p.m. much of the crowd had dispersed, with many ralliers saying they planned to go to other demonstrations at the Triple S Food Mart where Sterling was fatally shot by Baton Rouge police officers or the Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters on Airline Highway.

Baton Rouges’ Martin Luther King Community Center has been established as a place for people to go if they need assistance following the shooting of Alton Sterling.

Beginning Monday, the center will be staffed with counselors, clergy and others to help people struggling with the deadly confrontation with Baton Rouge police.

“We’ll have a room for people to come in and have dialogue and have reflection,” Metro Councilwoman Tara Wicker said Saturday night.

A separate room will be set up for people to make protest signs or get water and snacks that have been donated as demonstrations stretch on throughout the city.

Wicker was among several elected officials who took part in a rally at the state Capitol Saturday evening, calling for justice in the deadly shooting of Sterling.

“We wanted to use it as an example of what is the culture of our city,” Wicker said of the protest that drew at least 500 people but remained peaceful through the evening before ralliers dispersed around 8 p.m. “This is baton rouge we are a peaceful community. we love one another.”


UPDATE: 7:20 p.m.

A face-off between police and a group New Black Panther Party members and others on Airline Highway outside the Baton Rouge Police Department’s headquarters led to several arrests. A police spokesman said two firearms were confiscated during the confrontation, which occurred around 6 p.m.

Demonstrators had earlier blocked the southbound right lane of Airline Highway but police got them to move back. After police returned to an area behind the fences surrounding the headquarters, a column of about 20-30 New Black Panther Party members started marching in the lane that had just been cleared.

Trouble viewing the video below. Click here.

State troopers and city police in riot gear, along with a tactical vehicle, went back out, formed a line and fanned out in both lanes of traffic. There was a long testy exchange between the New Black Panther Party group and police, with the Panther group leading the crowd in black power chants.

At least three were seen carrying shotguns. A scuffle broke out several arrests were made as a police line rapidly advanced, beating batons on their shields until the roadway was cleared.

Sgt. Don Coppola said “multiple people were arrested” during the confrontation and that police confiscated two firearms.

Police announced that anyone who ran into the road when it reopened would be arrested.

The road was reopened to traffic shortly after that confrontation. Protesters have moved south, lining both sides of Goodwood Boulevard, where the bulk of Friday’s protests were located.

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UPDATE: 4:40 p.m.

Protests continued throughout the Baton Rouge area Saturday, with demonstrators calling for the resignation of East Baton Rouge mayor-president Kip Holden.

At Triple S, where Alton Sterling was fatally shot, community activist Arthur “Silky Slim” Reed said if the mayor does not resign within 72 hours, protests will not remain peaceful.

Several protesters promised to picket Holden’s home in Scotlandville, but none were there as a 4:30 p.m.

Holden is at his home and will not leave, but said he would not address the protesters.

Holden has been noticeably absent since the news of Sterling’s death was circulated nationally on Tuesday.

“I don’t think that it’s appropriate for me to go into the faces of people who are grieving and say ‘I’m here to help,’ ” he said earlier this week, in reference to why he had not reached out to Sterling’s relatives.

Protesters also took to Florida Boulevard next to the Cortana Mall. A crowd of about 75 to 100 protesters had gathered as of about 4:45 p.m.

Below, an Alton Sterling demonstration at Triple S in Baton Rouge. Trouble viewing, click here or follow The Advocate on Facebook.

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