BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The Baltimore pastor accused of attempting to incite a riot spoke out Monday with his attorney at his side. They’re accusing police of arresting the pastor simply to stop protests and keep him silent. WJZ was first to break the story.
Derek Valcourt has more on the arrest and the fallout.
West and his attorney say he was arrested on bogus, trumped up charges. That’s not how police see it.
Police say the video speaks for itself. Taken by police helicopter, they claim it shows Reverend Westley West stopping traffic in the middle of Pratt Street and slamming his megaphone into the hood of a red pickup truck during Freddie Gray protests at a court hearing on September 2.
WJZ obtained photos capturing a glimpse of West’s confrontation with the driver.
West went on to lead protesters in blocking traffic before police eventually forced them to move.
One week later, police locked up West, charging him with damaging the vehicle and attempting to incite a riot, among other things.
“I now can say that I really feel what Freddie Gray felt like the day of my arrest,” West said.
West, his attorney and his supporters held a press conference Monday insisting he did nothing wrong.
“Everything that went on out there and that he planned and that he actually did was peaceful, non-violent, in the tradition of Martin Luther King, of civil disobedience,” said attorney Donald Wright.
They argue police strategically timed the arrest on the night before another court hearing in the Freddie Gray case to silence him and keep him from leading more protests.
Police reject that argument. They say it took them a week to investigate and find West—who vows his fight is far from over.
“I will not lose my drive,” West said. “I will continue to protest peacefully.”
West’s attorney says not only do they plan a vigorous defense against the charges, they’ll pursue every legal avenue available to them.
West is set for his first court appearance on October 16.