Antonio French, a St. Louis politician, was released from jail Thursday morning after being arrested the previous night during a mass protest against the police killing of unarmed teenager Mike Brown. His wife, Jasenka Benac French, was the first to report his Wednesday arrest via Twitter. The St. Louis alderman captured nationwide attention by posting numerous videos of the protests in the suburb of Ferguson and the police department’s use of force against them following Brown's death.
After his release from jail, French posted the following message Thursday afternoon on Twitter:
After a night in the #Ferguson jail, I'm free. My staffers who were also arrested last night are also free. Thank you for all the support.
— Antonio French (@AntonioFrench) August 14, 2014
French was protesting with demonstrators Wednesday evening around 9 p.m. when police said they had to disperse, reports Fox2Now. French says he got into his car and rolled up his windows when police threw tear gas. He was then removed from his car and arrested.
“I don’t think they roughed me up, but I was dragged from my car,” he said. “I would call everyone in there a peacemaker, not a troublemaker. I saw some troublemakers and none of them were in that jail. We broke no laws.”
French has been posting powerful photos and videos of Ferguson residents and supporters as they demand for Brown, as well as photos of the police activity that has taken place since Brown’s shooting.
French, a Democrat, has gained sudden national attention for his commentary and photos on Ferguson since Brown's death. He published video reports of government and political activities before he was elected in 2009 and has lobbied for government transparency while in office, according to the Washington Post.
Brown, 18, was killed by a police officer on Saturday after he put his hands up during an alleged altercation with cops on a street in Ferguson, according to witnesses. Police said they had cause to shoot Brown. Authorities have refused to release the officer’s name.
Witnesses have said the unidentified officer, now on leave, was white, making the case similar to the shooting of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teen who was shot and killed by volunteer community watchman George Zimmerman in Florida in 2012. Since Brown’s death, the mostly black St. Louis suburb has become an area of contention, as people have been expressing their outrage through both nonviolent protests and riots.