Questions are being raised about the way police handled about 100 protesters on Black Friday at the St. Louis Galleria. State Rep. Bruce Franks Junior, D-St. Louis, is among seven people arrested after the event to protest police brutality. He tells Missourinet that a lot of unnecessary force was used.
According to Franks, protesters complied with the directions given by police. They were leaving when some protesters noticed police trying to arrest an innocent bystander.
“I ran back and others ran back because we don’t leave anybody behind,” says Franks.
Franks explained to an officer that the spectator was not a part of the protest. He volunteered to be locked up instead of the onlooker. That’s when another protester came up to Franks and said “Don’t worry, we got it all on tape talking to the officers. We filmed you.”
Franks says an officer thought he heard the man say an obscenity – prompting the officer to arrest the man.
“He (the officer) started to advance on him. I just took two steps back,” says Franks. “When he (the officer) grabbed him, he (the officer) grabbed me and took me down to the ground.”
Franks says the zip ties used to restrain him were so tight that they were cutting off his circulation – causing him to start losing feeling in his thumbs.
“The reason we ended up (being arrested) is because the officer didn’t like what he heard, which is a problem within itself,” says Franks.
Some critics say they are fed up with the protesting in the St. Louis area.
You say this as if someone besides you and your thug friends care. I have yet to have someone block my path or threaten me while shopping but if it ever does happen the last thing you will have to worry about is the police.
— DKL (@yelldaniyell) November 25, 2017
If someone came into your office and yelled at the top of their lungs what would you do
— Make STL Great Again (@MSTLGA) November 27, 2017
Franks was an active protester in Ferguson and after a judge’s ruling in September that freed a former St. Louis police officer of a first-degree murder charge in the shooting death of a black drug suspect. He says the fight will continue for racial equality.
“If they’re exhausted because we’re protesting, imagine how exhausted we are from protesting. It’s not like we wake up every day and say ‘Hey this is what we want to be doing right now.’ It’s the fact that it has to be done. So, we’re more exhausted than everybody else that might be inconvenienced for a couple hours,” says Franks.
Franks says many people his age or older have been raised to be careful about what they say. But, not Franks.
“A lot of times, that hinders you from telling the truth and speaking up,” says Franks. “One thing my mother taught me is say what’s on your mind. You might get in trouble, but staying silent isn’t worth it.”
That’s the message he teaches his children and the youth that he mentors.
“You’ve got to speak up. Don’t just speak up. Speak loudly. That way, nobody has to wonder where you stand,” says Franks.
He would not say whether he plans to file a lawsuit claiming police mistreatment during the Black Friday protest.
View video of the Black Friday incident: