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As tensions continue to rise in Ferguson following the death of Michael Brown, local police have made several civilian arrests overnight for protesting in the streets.

Meanwhile, St. Louis elected official Antonio French was released from jail Thursday morning after spending a night in the can for peacefully protesting on the streets of Ferguson. French was released around 7 a.m. without having to post any bail, but has yet to receive documentation saying why he was arrested.

No police spokesmen were available to explain the arrest. French told reporters that there was no reason for his arrest, nor for the dozens of others he shared a cell with that night.

“Inside that jail is nothing but peacekeepers,” he said. “They rounded up the wrong people … reverends, young people organizing the peace effort.”

Along with French, police arrested two national reporters at Wednesday night’s protest in Ferguson. Police used tear gas and sonic cannons to drive the crowds of people away. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is scheduled to visit Ferguson on Thursday amid the growing protests. 

French recounted his arrest, explaining that police had given them a final warning to disperse before throwing smoke bombs towards the protesters. People scattered and ran as police began to advance with riot gear and tear gas, and French made his way to his car to avoid it. When asked how he was arrested if he was in his car, he responded:

“They open your door and drag you out. They just rounded up anybody they could see.”

French had no complaints about how he was treated during his arrest, except that the zip ties used to hold his wrists were “pretty tight.” French also believes that the police officers’ “heavy-handed” approach is exacerbating the problem.

“In an American city, people are being tear-gassed and snipers are pointing rifles at them,” he said. “Everybody should be upset … heavy-handed police approach is actually making the situation worse.

Many people feel that the use of strong force on protesters interferes with their right to peacefully assemble, ultimately violating their First Amendment rights.

“We have a right to protest 24 hours a day,” French said. “Our constitutional rights don’t expire at 9 p.m.”

Stay tuned for more updates on the situation in Ferguson.

SOURCE: St. Louis Today | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty 

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