St. Louis County declared a state of emergency as prominent civil rights activists were arrested during a Black Lives Matter protest Monday.
Noted academic and activist Cornel West was the most well-known demonstrator taken into custody outside a St. Louis federal courthouse. Civil rights activists DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie of We the Protesters were also among the dozens arrested.
Officers with the Federal Protective Service could be seen surveying the protesters, who had locked their arms together as they sat in solidarity on the steps of the Thomas F. Eagleton federal courthouse.
Before leaving for the protest, Elzie tweeted, "If I'm arrested today please know I'm not suicidal. I have plenty to live for. I did not resist, I'm just black."
The day of civil disobedience comes a day after the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death in the nearby suburb of Ferguson, Mo. The previous night of protests had been marred by gunfire.
“In light of last night’s violence and unrest in the City of Ferguson, and the potential for harm to persons and property, I am exercising my authority as county executive to issue a state of emergency, effective immediately,” St. Louis County Executive Steve Stenger said in a statement Monday afternoon.
The recent acts of violence, he said, would not be tolerated in communities that have worked hard over the last year to rebuild.
“The time and investment in Ferguson and Dellwood will not be destroyed by a few that wish to violate the rights of others,” he continued.
Stenger commended the St. Louis County Police Department, the Missouri Highway Patrol and other law enforcement agencies for their professionalism and dedication to law, order and peace.
In line with the executive order, he said, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar will exercise all powers and duties needed to protect lives and property in Ferguson and surrounding areas.
Many demonstrators took to social media to document what was happening outside the courthouse as police prepared for the evening.