DeRay Mckesson free to return to Maryland, lawyer says

An excerpt from DeRay Mckesson's Periscope feed from Saturday, July 9, 2016, showing his arrest during a protest in Baton Rouge, La.

The lawyer for DeRay Mckesson, the Baltimore schools administrator and Black Lives Matter activist arrested during a protest in Baton Rouge, said Monday he is free to leave the state of Louisiana after the conditions of his bail were modified.

Mckesson, 31, who is the chief of human capital for the city school system, was among more than 100 arrested in Baton Rouge over the weekend amid nationwide protests against police violence. He had been barred from leaving Louisiana as a standard condition of bail, his lawyer said.


"He is free to leave the state," said the lawyer, Veronica "Vicky" Jones. "He's good."

The deaths last week of two black men at the hands of police officers in Baton Rouge and suburban St. Paul, Minn., sparked protests in those cities and across the country. Hundreds were arrested.


Jones said she believed the arrest of Mckesson was unconstitutional. He was charged with one count of obstruction of a highway, which is a misdemeanor.

"Baton Rouge right now is at a state of high alert," Jones said. "It's something we've never experienced here. There's a lot of unrest in the city of Baton Rouge right now."

Mckesson said he expected to return to work in the Baltimore school system Tuesday.

He rose to national prominence in 2014 during the protests in Ferguson, Mo., that followed the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer. Mckesson ran unsuccessfully in Baltimore's Democratic primary for mayor this year.

He was named to Baltimore Schools CEO Sonja Santelises' Cabinet last month. In his new role, Mckesson is earning $165,000 and manages a budget of $4 million and 56 employees.

Santelises said she supports Mckesson's activism.

"In his private capacity as an individual involved in community activism, City Schools staff member DeRay Mckesson participated in a weekend protest in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in the course of which he was charged with a misdemeanor offense," city schools spokeswoman Karen Parks said in a statement.

"Mr. Mckesson has brought his expertise, professionalism, and commitment to supporting City Schools' employees and to the critical work of ensuring that all district schools are fully staffed when the school year begins on August 29. We expect that work to continue under Mr. Mckesson's leadership."

Marietta English, the president of the Baltimore teachers union, declined to comment specifically on Mckesson.

"We support all peaceful, nonviolent demonstrators who engage in civil disobedience," she said. "We are confident peaceful demonstrations and responsible but fair policing not only can, but must, coexist."

Protests followed last week's fatal shooting of Alton Sterling by two Baton Rouge police officers outside a convenience store in an incident that was captured on video. The next day, an officer shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop outside St. Paul as he reached for his wallet, according to his girlfriend, who live-streamed video of the aftermath on Facebook.

Then on Thursday, five police officers were fatally shot and others were wounded during protests in Dallas. Dallas authorities said Micah Xavier Johnson, 25, an Army veteran, opened fire out of anger toward white officers.


In Baltimore, about 50 people held a candlelight vigil Sunday in Federal Hill for the slain officers. Hundreds of protesters decrying the deaths of Castile and Sterling marched through downtown Baltimore on Friday and Saturday nights.


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