St. Louis cleans up after weekend demonstrations
Protesters participate in a "Die-In" on the third day of demonstrations after a judge acquitted Jason Stockley, a white former St. Louis police officer, in the 2011 fatal shooting of a black drug suspect, Anthony Lamar Smith. (Lawrence Bryant/Reuters) September 17 at 7:07 PM
ST. LOUIS â" Suburban St. Louis shop owners Sunday swept up broken glass and boarded up storefront windows that were shattered overnight when a day of peaceful protests turned violent, as the city and its surrounding communities prepared for a third day of demonstrations.
Saturday nightâs clash between police and a few dozen protesters in the Delmar Loop area of University City, about 10 mil es west of St. Louis near Washington University, resulted in the arrests of at least nine people. At least half of the shops on one side of a two-block stretch of the popular nightlife district were damaged by the time the area was cleared.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) issued a warning Sunday on Facebook that anyone caught destroying property would be held accountable and could face felony charges.
âSaturday night, some criminals decided to pick up rocks and break windows. They thought theyâd get away with it. They were wrong. Our officers caught âem, cuffed âem, and threw âem in jail,â the first-term governor wrote.
The protests began Friday after a judge acquitted Jason Stockley, a white former St. Louis police officer, in the 2011 fatal shooting of a black drug suspect, Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.
Saturday nightâs violence ended a day of noisy but peaceful demonstrations at suburban shopping malls.
Protesters shouted slogans such as âBlack lives matterâ and âIt is our duty to fight for our freedomâ as they marched through West County Center mall in the suburb of Des Peres, west of St. Louis. A group also demonstrated at another suburban shopping center, the Chesterfield Mall, and at a regional food festival.
Organizers hoped to spread the protests beyond predominantly black neighborhoods to those that are mainly white.
Saturdayâs confrontation took place in an area known for concert venues, restaurants, shops and bars, and includes the Blueberry Hill club where rock legend Chuck Berry played for many years. There had been a peaceful march there earlier in the evening that ended with organizers calling for people to leave and reconvene Sunday afternoon.
But a few dozen protesters refused to go. Police ordered them to disperse, saying the protest was illegal. Hundreds of police in riot gear eventually moved in with armored vehicles. The demonstrators retreated down a street, brea king windows with trash cans and throwing objects at police.
Several protesters were taken away in handcuffs, including a man who was carried off upside down. At least one demonstrator was treated after he was hit with pepper spray.
Sam Thomas, who was helping his friend clean up the glass from the shattered windows of his clothing and accessories boutique, said he understood why people were angry. The U.S. justice system needs to be fixed, he said.
âIâm not saying this is the right way to fix it,â he said of the damage. âThe window isnât murdered. Nobody is going to have a funeral for the window. We can replace it.â
On Friday night, nearly three dozen people were arrested and 11 police officers suffered injuries, including a broken jaw and dislocated shoulder. Five officers were taken to hospitals. Police said 10 businesses were damaged that night, and protesters broke a window and spattered red paint on the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krew son (D).
Smithâs death is just one of several high-profile U.S. cases in recent years in which a white officer killed a black suspect, including the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson that sparked months of protests.
Stockley wasnât charged until May 2016, which was three years after he left the force and moved to Houston and more than four years after his December 2011 confrontation with Smith.
Stockley shot Smith after Smith fled from Stockley and his partner, who were trying to arrest him in connection with a suspected drug deal.
Stockley, 36, testified that he thought he was in danger because he saw Smith holding a silver revolver when Smith backed his car toward the officers and sped away.
Prosecutors said Stockley planted a gun in Smithâs car after the shooting. The officerâs DNA was on the weapon but Smithâs wasnât. Dash cam video from Stockleyâs cruiser recorded him saying he was âgoing to kill this [expletive] .â Less than a minute later, he shot Smith five times.
Stockleyâs lawyer dismissed the comment as âhuman emotionsâ during a dangerous pursuit. St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson, who said prosecutors didnât prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stockley killed Smith, said the statement could be ambiguous.
â" Associated PressSource: Google News