- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2020

FLORISSANT, Mo. (AP) - Seventeen people were arrested Sunday night during a protest outside a suburban St. Louis police department, but police and protesters disagree over the actions that led to the arrests.

Police said the arrests came after protesters blocked a street, damaged property, threw objects at officers and refused orders to disperse. But protesters say police rushed protesters without provocation.

The Rev. Darryl Gray, who helped organize the protest, said he was targeted with pepper spray and hit with a baton.

“Medics trying to assist injured protesters were tear gassed,” Gray said in a written statement. “At no time were police threatened nor did they come under attack in any way.”

Gray said protest organizers will hold a news conference Monday to dispute “the lies and misinformation” given by Florissant police.

Florissant police said in a Facebook post that the department recognizes people’s right to peacefully protest.

“Unfortunately, the peaceful protesters’ message is continuing to be stolen by aggressive individuals in the protest crowds,” the department said.

Protesters have gathered outside the Florissant Police Department for weeks following the release of video showing a black suspect being struck by a white detective’s sport utility vehicle. The detective was fired after the violent June 2 arrest, and he has been charged with felony assault, felony armed criminal action and misdemeanor assault.

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