Attempt to block Siegen Lane causes stalemate between marchers, law enforcement

Attempt to block Siegen Lane causes stalemate between marchers, law enforcement
Demonstrators remained peaceful. (Source: WAFB)

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - A march along Siegen Lane late Sunday, May 31 was interrupted as East Baton Rouge Parish deputies and participants sought a compromise on whether or not the march could take place in the street.

For the majority of the march, participants traveled up and down the shoulders of Siegen Lane while carrying signs objecting to the excessive use of force by members of law enforcement.

Deputies helped block the lanes closest to the shoulders to give the marchers room.

Some marchers then branched off and began blocking traffic lanes.

Deputies dressed in tactical gear arrived at the scene and formed a line near the marchers to stress that blocking traffic was not acceptable.

Some marchers used the opportunity to approach the deputies and throw rocks and water bottles, but were threatened and chased from the area by other participants who did not want the situation to escalate.

Marchers and deputies stood on opposite sides of the road to prevent any further confrontations.

The road was briefly closed to prevent any injuries caused by passing cars and allow time for both sides to cool off.

Community leaders and East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office leaders present at the march frequently met in the middle of the road to discuss a resolution to the stalemate.

The march did not continue and the roads were no longer blocked, but a crowd remained on the shoulder, refusing to leave unless the deputies left first.

Deputies eventually complied and left the area. The crowd dispersed almost immediately afterward.

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux released the following statement Monday, June 1 in response to George Floyd’s death and the protest on Siegen Lane:

"I share in the outrage, frustration and sadness of the treatment and tragic death of George Floyd. I was sickened and heartbroken to see such callous disregard for another human being. I have always said that if you do not have a heart for service, there is no place for you in law enforcement. Unfortunately, such reprehensible behavior undermines the important relationship and trust between law enforcement and the community we serve. Most of us share the same desires for peace, security and equality. Now, more than ever, we must do the work needed to repair and strengthen that relationship and restore trust through respect and compassion.

I want to thank those in our community that have peacefully protested. I respect and appreciate your right to be heard. I personally value your voice and your input. As leaders we must humbly listen and committedly learn and grow.

Last night on Siegen Lane our deputies worked with the many peaceful protesters and spent hours helping facilitate and keep them safe as they walked. We did, however, have to step in at one point when some lay down in the roadway. While the vast majority of those present were peaceful, a small group threw water bottles and rocks at law enforcement, breaking a window.

I want to reassure any protesters that we will continue to ensure your safety and protect your right to peacefully assemble and speak freely, as we will ensure the safety of all of our residents and their property. We will not allow any acts of violence, destruction of property or obstruction of our roadways. Standing or walking in the road not only obstructs traffic, potentially blocking life-saving first responders, it is dangerous to the pedestrian as well as those in vehicles.

I pray that as a community and as a nation we will continue to come together and listen to each other with compassion and treat each other with respect and kindness."

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