Chicago Protester Discusses Ferguson Arrest

Musician turns protester spends night in Ferguson jail

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    NEWSLETTERS

    8/19/2014: Musician turns protester spends night in Ferguson jail. NBC 5's Tammy Leitner reports. (Published Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014)

    Chicago resident Charles Coffeen had no ties to Ferguson, Missouri. Until now.

    The 26-year-old musician is one of a handful of Chicago-area residents who have been arrested during the protests.

    "Up until the tear gas was thrown the march was completely peaceful," Coffeen said.

    Missouri national guard soldiers were brought in to help control the marchers after Missouri's governor declared a state of emergency over the weekend.

    Coffeen says police in riot gear asked the crowd he was with Sunday to disburse. Police held a line and that's when Coffeen says he decided to leave.

    "I stopped with my hands up, and one of the officers who was there motioned to the sidewalk and told me to go," Coffeen said.

    But it wasn't that simple.

    "Another group of officers had their guns drawn and pointed at me and said don't take another step or I'll shoot you," said Coffeen, who was now stuck.

    Police, Protesters Clash in Ferguson

    [NATL] Police, Protesters Clash in Ferguson
    After nightfall, police and protesters were again in a tense standoff Monday as crowds filled the streets. Officers used noisemakers, bullhorns and armored vehicles to push demonstrators back. (Published Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014)

    "A few seconds after that another group of officers came out of that all with their guns drawn yelling at me to get down, pointing their flashlights, pointing their guns at me, then threw me on the ground and got on top of me and put handcuffs on."

    Coffeen spent the night in jail but says he was not charged with a crime.

    Prior to his arrest, Coffeen was touring with his band in Portland, Oregon. He was so moved by what was happening in Missouri that he immediately caught a flight there. He arrived Sunday morning and started talking to people.

    "I think you can have people that are angry and still have a peaceful protest," he said. "The marches on Sunday were angry. People are angry. People are exhausted and tired of being disrespected."

    The frustration for many stems from the lack of answers surrounding the Aug. 9 shooting of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown.

    "Ninety-eight percent of the people out there are out there peacefully," he said. "They're out there to put a message out and they're out there to be respected and get justice, and all they want is justice and to be treated like human beings."

    Police arrested 78 people Monday and Tuesday. Six of those arrests were people from the Chicago area.

    "Personally I felt it's my cause as a citizen to speak out and act out against police brutality and police violence," Coffeen said.

    Attorney General Eric Holder is traveling to Ferguson on Wednesday to oversee the investigation into the shooting.