217 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

Antonio French, a St. Louis elected official who had been providing frequent updates about the protests and police action in Ferguson, Mo., was arrested late Wednesday for unlawful assembly.

French, alderman of the 21st ward in St. Louis, was taken into custody, said his wife, Jasenka Benac French, who uses the Twitter handle @senka.

She tweeted that "@antonioFrench is in Ferguson jail," and that he had been arrested. About 90 minutes later she tweeted, "@AntonioFrench being booked now. Not sure what the charge is yet. Was ordered out of his car and arrested because he "didn't listen.'"

Benac French, whose Twitter account is followed by President Obama, had directed some of those tweets at politicians including Sen. Claire McCaskill and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.

She later updated to say that her husband had been charged with "unlawful assembly." She said he expected to be held for 24 hours.

National attention

Antonio French had received national attention for his social media reports and interviews on the escalating racial and police tensions in Ferguson, which followed the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, by a police officer. African Americans are two-thirds of the population in Ferguson, but they account for nine out of 10 stops by police.

Media accounts from the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, where protests entered a fourth day Wednesday, have jolted the American public with images of Sunday's rioting and looting, and on Wednesday, with scenes that seem more at home in a war zone than in a U.S. city. A beefed-up police presence included military trucks, rifles and dozens of police in riot gear.

Many of the people gathered Wednesday were at pains to show their peaceful intentions— keeping their hands in the air, singing songs and carrying signs. But violence also broke out, with reports of Molotov cocktails thrown and the use of tear gas by police.

In the early hours of Thursday, the St. Louis County Tactical Police Operations told protesters outside the Ferguson police station they must leave or be arrested. Earlier in the evening, police had taken two reporters into custody after demanding they leave a local McDonald's.

French, who grew up in St. Louis, is one of the youngest city aldermans. A graduate of Auburn University, he's known in the North St. Louis community for arranging two summer jazz concert series and a comprehensive education program called The North Campus that he founded. He had been a prolific chronicler of the events unfolding in Ferguson, tweeting photos and Vines to his 52,200 followers.

His arrest was acting as focal point for protesters gathered outside the Ferguson Police Department in the early hours of Thursday morning, before the police orders to disperse. They chanted, "Hell no. We won't go, until you free Antonio."

Yamiche Alcindor in Ferguson, Mo., contributed to this report.

217 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://usat.ly/VofIpX