UPDATE: The F.B.I. arrested Michael Avery on Sunday, May 31 for allegedly inciting a riot, according to a F.B.I. spokeswoman.
Avery is currently being held at the St. Louis County Justice Services in Clayton. As of 2 p.m. on June 1, Avery had not received any information about his charges, said Avery’s attorney Marlene Suarez. She had not received the indictment or charging documents. Avery will make his first appearance in federal court tomorrow, June 2, where he will plead not guilty, Suarez said.
According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office , “The complaint will be unsealed after his court appearance tomorrow.”
Ferguson activist Mike Avery — who had just returned from police accountability protests in Minneapolis — was arrested at his St. Louis County home in front of his parents and children at around 1 p.m. Sunday, May 31, according to Avery’s own Facebook Live video.
The jurisdiction of the law enforcement officers is unclear from the video. They were armed but not in uniform, wearing khaki pants and blue shirts. Family members said the officers had F.B.I. on their clothing. The officers arrested him on a warrant for a minor traffic violation in University City, according to a legal team supporting him.
He is currently being held at the St. Louis County Justice Services. Protestors gathered in front of the county jail in Clayton to support him after his arrest.
Avery, 28, had just come back Saturday from Minneapolis, where he had live-streamed on Facebook on several occasions.
In the Facebook Live video of his arrest, Avery asked the officers to see some paperwork.
“You don’t have to see paperwork,” one officer said. “It’s been signed. We’re going to put handcuffs on you, we’re going to put you in the car, and we’re going to take you to the station, okay?”
Avery responded, “I have my daughter right here, so I don’t want to cause any problems.”
Avery asked if he could hand his phone to his mother. The officers said he could.
After a minute, Avery told his mother to keep the phone pointed on him because he was “live.”
At that point the officers came over to his mother and said, “We are going to need that phone back.”
His mother said, “No, you can’t confiscate my phone.”
But Avery calmly told his mother not to resist the officer, and she handed the phone over.
Avery is heard saying that he believed he was being taken into custody because he exercised his First Amendment rights.
“Because that’s all that I did out here is voice my opinion,” he said. “You all got a problem with me voicing my opinion?”
Then one officer is heard saying that they need to turn off the phone because it was live-streaming. The video shut off at about two minutes.