St. Louis pro­test­ers tar­get up­scale malls, sub­urbs

Se­cond day of ral­lies in po­lice shoot­ing ver­dict more peace­ful

Albuquerque Journal - - NATION & WORLD - BY JIM SAL­TER AND SUM­MER BALLENTINE

ST. LOUIS — Noisy demon­stra­tors dis­rupted shop­ping at up­scale subur­ban St. Louis shop­ping malls and marched through a pop­u­lar district of bars and restau­rants Satur­day in peace­ful protests over the ac­quit­tal of a white St. Louis po­lice of­fi­cer who fa­tally shot a black man, and there was lit­tle sign of the spo­radic van­dal­ism and vi­o­lence that marred the ral­lies a night ear­lier.

A few hun­dred peo­ple shouted slo­gans such as “black lives mat­ter” and “it is our duty to fight for our free­dom” as they marched through West County Cen­ter mall in the city of Des Peres, west of St. Louis, to de­cry the judge’s ver­dict Fri­day clear­ing ex-of­fi­cer Ja­son Stock­ley of first­de­gree mur­der in the 2011 shoot­ing of An­thony La­mar Smith.

A short time later, a group demon­strated at Ch­ester­field Mall in the sub­urbs and a re­gional food fes­ti­val.

On Satur­day evening, hun­dreds of pro­test­ers marched through the Del­mar Loop of the St. Louis sub­urb of Univer­sity City — known for con­cert venues, restau­rants, shops and bars and in­clud­ing the fa­mous Blue­berry Hill where rock legend Chuck Berry played for many years. Af­ter three hours, or­ga­niz­ers asked pro­test­ers to dis­band and re­con­vene this af­ter­noon.

Small groups of pro­test­ers re­mained, but po­lice said they were not aware of any ar­rests on Satur­day.

The peace­ful protests fol­lowed rau­cous Fri­day marches in down­town St. Louis and through the city’s posh Cen­tral West End area dur­ing the night. Pro­test­ers wanted the en­tire re­gion, not just pre­dom­i­nantly black ar­eas, to feel the im­pact of the protests.

“I don’t think racism is go­ing to change in Amer­ica un­til peo­ple get un­com­fort­able,” said Kayla Reed of the St. Louis Ac­tion Coun­cil, a protest or­ga­nizer.

Su­sanna Prins, 27, a white woman from Univer­sity City, car­ried a sign read­ing “White si­lence is vi­o­lence.”

“Not say­ing or do­ing any­thing makes you com­plicit in the brutalization of our friends and neigh­bors,” Prins said.

Smith’s 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 an­gry and some­times vi­o­lent protests.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors said Satur­day they won’t open a new civil rights in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the killing, as the NAACP re­quested. Jus­tice Depart­ment spokes­woman Lau­ren Ehrsam said the depart­ment con­cluded in Septem­ber not to pros­e­cute, but didn’t an­nounce it then to avoid af­fect­ing the state crim­i­nal case.

Po­lice were pre­pared for a se­cond night of trou­ble af­ter Fri­day’s demon­stra­tions led to sev­eral clashes — in­clud­ing rocks thrown at a po­lice car and ob­jects tossed at of­fi­cers in riot gear — and cul­mi­nated when pro­test­ers broke a win­dow and spat­tered red paint on the home of Mayor Lyda Krew­son. Po­lice even­tu­ally used tear gas to clear the area.

Krew­son said she was not home at the time but her fam­ily was. She said it was “ir­ri­tat­ing” to have her house van­dal­ized. “This story is not about whether I got my win­dows bro­ken or not. This is about com­ing to­gether to have a bet­ter St. Louis for all of us,” she told a news con­fer­ence Satur­day.

Reed said pro­test­ers went to Krew­son’s house be­cause she was not in the streets with the peo­ple even though she had ex­pressed sup­port on so­cial me­dia.

Nearly three-dozen peo­ple were ar­rested Fri­day, po­lice said, mostly for fail­ure to dis­perse, re­sist­ing and in­ter­fer­ing.

Po­lice said 11 of­fi­cers were in­jured Fri­day, in­clud­ing a bro­ken jaw and dis­lo­cated shoul­der. Five of­fi­cers were taken to hos­pi­tals. Po­lice also said that 10 busi­nesses were dam­aged, mostly bro­ken win­dows.

Gov. Eric Gre­it­ens, a Repub­li­can, was highly crit­i­cal dur­ing last year’s cam­paign of how the Ferguson protests were man­aged. Gre­it­ens put the Na­tional Guard on standby be­fore the ver­dict Fri­day, and some troops were de­ployed to guard un­spec­i­fied “crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture.”

An­tic­i­pat­ing more demon­stra­tions, con­certs Satur­day by U2 and Sun­day by English singer-song­writer Ed Sheeran were can­celed be­cause the po­lice depart­ment said it wouldn’t be able to pro­vide its stan­dard pro­tec­tion for the events.

The civil dis­obe­di­ence fol­lowed the ac­quit­tal of Stock­ley for fa­tally shoot­ing Smith, 24, af­ter the sus­pected drug dealer fled from of­fi­cers try­ing to ar­rest him.

Stock­ley tes­ti­fied he felt he was in dan­ger be­cause he saw Smith hold­ing a sil­ver re­volver when the sus­pect backed his car to­ward of­fi­cers and sped away.

JEFF ROBERSON/ASSOCIATED PRESS

As po­lice of­fi­cers stand by, pro­test­ers march through West County Mall in Des Peres, Mo., in re­sponse to a not guilty ver­dict in the 2011 killing of An­thony La­mar Smith.

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