Pastor West speaks out about arrest

Posted at 6:43 AM, Sep 15, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-15 06:43:46-04

During the first of two pre-trial hearings for the six officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray, Pastor Westley West was one of dozens of protestors who took to the streets.

The pastor stood outside his church Faith Empowered Ministries beside his attorney Donald Wright Monday afternoon, talking about his arrest last week.

"You cannot judge me if you were not there," he said.

West and his attorney said West is innocent of "bogus and trumped up" charges, which include disorderly conduct and attempting to incite a riot.

"If anybody incited a riot or attempted to incite a riot, I've said it before, it was the police officers. They come to test their brand new riot gear. They came dressed. They had helmets . It was no riot at all," West said.

Video from the police aviation unit captured West standing in front of a red pickup truck in the middle of East Pratt Street with a bullhorn in his hand.

Police said West appeared to be agitated and his actions were violent and hostile.

"You should not mistake emotional and vibrant demonstrations with something that's violent," Wright said.

The two also question the timing of the arrest, which came one week after the protest and one day before the second pre-trial hearing and more scheduled demonstrations.

"The police swarmed this area. They surrounded his church. They came in with a display of force that's more common when serving murder warrants than something like this. ... It's not even a veiled attempt at trying to silence him. That was the obvious attempt at what they were trying to do," Wright said.

"They did not stop my passion. In fact they made it that much greater," West added.

Wright said the next court date is set for Oct. 16.

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