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Pastor arrested for blocking traffic calls charges false

Pastor who led many of the #FreddieGray marches was arrested for "attempting to incite a riot" last week.

A Baltimore pastor who led many of the marches against police brutality after the death of Freddie Gray was arrested Wednesday night, a week after he stood in the way of traffic during a downtown march, police said.

Pastor Westley West, 27, of Faith Empowered Ministries, was charged with attempting to incite a riot, malicious destruction of property, disorderly conduct, disturbance of the peace, false imprisonment, and failure to obey, police said.

In video footage from the police Foxtrot helicopter West can be seen holding a megaphone and stopping a red pickup truck in the center lane of the 200 block of East Pratt St. with his hands on the hood of the vehicle.

"Mr. West appeared to be agitated and his observed actions were violent and hostile in nature," police said.

The protest had surrounded a pre-trial hearing in the Gray case, and more are planned Thursday as Judge Barry Williams decides whether the trial should be moved outside the city.

West was taken before a District Court Commissioner, who ordered that he be released from jail on his own recognizance, court records show. A preliminary court date was set for Oct. 16.

West, whose charges included attempting to incite a riot for stopping traffic, was released on his own recognizance.

West said he was involved in a "peaceful protest where I was targeted as a leader, and false charges were placed on me that I damaged vehicles, that I held people against their will."

"I think it was a way of keeping me from the protest today," he said of police.

West was arrested on Wednesday at his church, Faith Empowered Ministries in the city's Mondawmin neighborhood.

West said he will continue to protest. "I will be out with bells on. It will not stop me from being who I am and doing what I do," he said.

He said he is pleased with the judge's decision Thursday to keep the trials of the six police officers charged in Freddie Gray’s arrest and death in Baltimore.

“It was good news,” he said. “If it would have moved, we would have seen another unrest. The city is not playing.”

Gray, 25, suffered a fatal spinal cord injury in police custody in April, which set off protests and marches that erupted into riots that caused officials to declare a curfew and call in the National Guard.

 Baltimore Sun reporter Jessica Anderson contributed to this report.

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