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Leading gay Black Lives Matter activist released from prison following arrest at protest

By Josh Lee

Gay civil rights activist DeRay McKesson has been released from prison, following his arrest while protesting the shooting of 37 yearold-black man Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, last week.

Sterling was shot and killed by an officer in the early hours of last Tuesday (July 5) after a complaint was made to the police about an armed man threatening people outside a convenience store. His death, which has been described as a modern day “lynching”, sparked protests and demands for justice across America.

Mckesson, a 31-year old former school-administrator, has become one of the most prominent faces of modern civil rights activism since quitting a job in education in March 2014 to dedicate himself to campaigning against racism and protesting the deaths of black Americans at the hands of the police.

He was detained at the weekend after allegedly ignoring officers’ orders to stay out of the road, and was charged with ‘simple obstruction of a highway of commerce’, before being released after spending 16 hours in cell, according to the Washington Post.

In a telephone interview with the New York Times conducted after his release, Mckesson suggested that the police were unfairly conducting mass arrests and that his own arrest was “unlawful”. He also believes that these mass arrests were a tactic to try and silence protesters.

“The police want protesters to be too afraid to protest, which is why they intentionally created a context of conflict, and I’ll never be afraid to tell the truth…” he said.

“What we saw in Baton Rouge was a police department that chose to provoke protesters to create, like, a context of conflict they could exploit”.

Alton Sterling is one of over 120 black people to die following a police shooting in America this year. His death was followed days later the killing Philando Castile, who was shot by an officer during a traffic stop for a broken tail light in front of his girlfriend and her young daughter.

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