The video of a Washington University student’s arrest has spread far and wide following destructive and violent protests in the Delmar Loop, but that student is speaking out about what really happened.
Jeffrey Blackman said he was on his way home that night when the sight of what he calls a militarized police force caught him by surprise.
“They really just looked like soldiers invading a country,” said Blackman, a senior at Washington University from Maryland.
Blackman turned his bike around and joined the dozens in the Loop protesting following the Jason Stockley verdict that has sparked 10 days of protest across the city.
He said he put himself in between the line of police and other protesters.
“I was acting as an ally,” he said. Blackman said he never considered himself an activist, although has long sympathized with the Black Lives Matter cause.
Blackman said he was told to leave the street, an order declaring it an unlawful protest was made, and at that time water bottles started flying towards police.
“Incoming water bottles started raining down like enemy fire,” he explained as he was standing right near police officers.
It was just a few moments later that he was once again told to leave the street.
“He asked me a few more times please leave the street, he said something like you’re illegally assembling, and then five cops just ascended on me” Blackman said.
News 4 video captured his arrest, and the next day the video was shared by Governor Eric Greitens in a tweet that said “Saturday, some criminals broke windows & thought they'd get away. They were wrong. Officers caught ‘em, cuffed ‘em, and threw ‘em in jail.”
But Blackman’s arrest happened before vandals ran down Delmar smashing windows. The student was charged with “failure to disperse” and “unlawful assembly.”
He said he doesn’t have a problem with the Governor’s tweet, and in fact hope others will see it, and see his participation in the protest and realize why people are risking arrest for change.
“People who show up at the Loop to protest in St. Louis and around the country, they’re not doing that because that’s how they want to spend their Saturday nights. It’s because enough is enough," he said.
Seven others were arrested and charged with vandalism, more than a dozen businesses were damaged during the protest.
Blackman has a court hearing in November.
News 4 reached out to the Governor’s office about his tweet but have not yet received a response.
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