Police in the US state of Louisiana have arrested several people during a confrontation with a group of protesters, who were enraged by the Department of Justice’s decision to clear two officers in the killing of Alton Sterling, an African-American man.
The DOJ announced on Tuesday that it would not press charges against the two white officers, who shot Sterling dead while apprehending him in front of a store in Baton Rouge last July.
The ruling set off fresh protests in the city, raising alarms among officials about another wave of protests similar to the ones that followed Sterling’s death.
Police arrested three women on Tuesday night, charging them with felony charges for blocking a highway. The arrestees were demonstrating on Airline Highway across from Baton Rouge Police headquarters.
Sterling’s shooting death, which was captured on mobile cameras, led to major demonstrations across the US. Police arrested over 200 people in the following days.
The footage showed the two officers tackling Sterling as he lay on the ground. Then, one of the officers pulled a gun from his holster and shot the victim five times at close range.
The DOJ argued that the officers were acting reasonably as Sterling was armed and refused to follow commands.
The Sterling family called the ruling “unfair” and was hopeful that state officials would help them get justice.
The family’s lawyer called the officers’ actions “outrageous” and “inappropriate” and said they “did not follow procedures.”
On Tuesday, more than 100 people held a vigil outside the grocery store where Sterling was killed.
Meanwhile, rights advocacy group Together Baton Rouge said the DOJ’s decision was unfair not only to the Sterling family, but to the officers involved because it denied them the chance to have their names cleared, if they were indeed acting reasonably.
“If not now, when? If not, who? I think we’re the ones to make it happen, but we have to be vigilant, we have to be vocal, we have to be focused, we have to be clear, and we have to demand those things as citizens of EBR Parish, including a thorough investigation of the killing of Alton sterling, by our State Attorney General,” said Lee Wesley, a member of the group.