Protesters Arrested, Obama Seeks Unity, Families Call for Peace

With the backdrop of nationwide protests over police shootings last week and the tragedy in Dallas, comments over the weekend ranged from President Barack Obama saying we are not in a race war to Bill O’Reilly calling Black Lives Matter a “hate America” group.

Hundreds of Protesters Arrested in Demonstrations Across the Country

Protests erupted across the nation in response to the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Demonstrations occurred in various states, The Associated Press reported, including Louisiana, where Sterling was shot and killed by a police officer outside a convenience store last week; Minnesota, where Castile was fatally shot during a traffic stop; Georgia, where protests resulted in a shutdown of Atlanta Streetcar; Tennessee, where demonstrators marched over the I-40 bridge and faced off with Memphis Interim Police Director Michael Rallings; New York, where the NYPD arrested 20 protesters and said demonstrations were becoming dangerous; and Virginia, where protesters tried to shut down major roadways.

Among those arrested was Baltimore activist DeRay Mckesson. The 31-year-old was arrested in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. According to records, Mckesson, who ran for Baltimore mayor as a Democratic candidate but lost the primary in April, was arrested for simple obstruction of a highway of commerce. Mckesson live-streamed his encounter via Periscope and explained that there was no sidewalk where he was marching, forcing him to walk in the shoulder. In his video he says the police are “literally provoking people.”

After the incident, he said what happened will not dissuade him from protesting in the future, saying that “police want protesters to be too afraid to protest.”

“I remain disappointed in the Baton Rouge police who continued to provoke protesters who were peacefully protesting,” he said upon his release. He also said there is “a lot of work to be done with this police department specifically” and called on the Department of Justice to “[intervene] both in the death of Alton [Sterling] and with the way they treat protesters.”

According to AP, activists plan to continue demonstrations this week.

‘We cannot let the actions of a few define all of us,’ Obama Says

Obama over the weekend emphasized that “America is not as divided as some have suggested.”

“Americans of all races and backgrounds are rightly outraged by the inexcusable attacks on police, whether it’s in Dallas or any place else,” he said on Saturday, adding that “Americans of all races and all backgrounds are also rightly saddened and angered” by Castile and Sterling’s deaths.

But “the actions of a few” are not representative of the whole country, the president said.

“The demented individual who carried out those attacks in Dallas, he’s no more representative of African Americans than the shooter in Charleston was representative of white Americans, or the shooter[s] in Orlando, or San Bernardino, were representative of Muslim Americans,” he said. “They don’t speak for us. That’s not who we are.”

The president ordered flags be flown at half-staff until Tuesday in honor of the fallen officers.

Dallas Shooter Planned Larger Attack, Police Say

As details of the shooting in Dallas continue to unfold, authorities have stated they believe shooter Micah Xavier Johnson had a larger attack planned.

According to Dallas Police Chief David Brown, “We’re convinced that this suspect had other plans,” but Johnson chose to “fast-track” his attack after the deaths of Castile and Sterling last week.

“He seemed very much in control and very determined to hurt other officers,” Brown said of the shooter.

Brown stated a search of Johnson’s residence found that the gunman had been practicing using explosives. There was also evidence that he planned to target law enforcement officers specifically.

Families of Castile and Sterling Call for Peace

As protests surged over the weekend, family members of Castile and Sterling urged for a sense of calm despite growing tensions.

Valerie Castile, Philando Castile’s mother, said, “I’m sure what we have planned for here in the state of Minnesota is not of that caliber,” referring to what happened in Dallas.

“We are having a peaceful protest,” she said. “My son just died the other day and I haven’t slept in almost 48 hours.”

Sterling’s family shared similar sentiments. Quinyetta McMillion, the mother of Sterling’s son Cameron Sterling, denounced the shootings in Dallas.

“We wholeheartedly reject the reprehensible acts of violence that were perpetrated against members of the Dallas Police Department,” McMillion said in a statement released by her lawyers.

“Regardless of how angry or upset people may be, resorting to this kind of sickening violence should never happen and simply cannot be tolerated,” she went on. “Members of law enforcement have a very difficult job and the vast majority conduct themselves honorably as they protect and serve our communities.”

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