St. Louis cop’s ac­quit­tal trig­gers sec­ond day of protests

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Jim Sal­ter and Sum­mer Ballentine

ST. LOUIS » Noisy demon­stra­tors marched through two malls in an up­scale area of sub­ur­ban St. Louis Satur­day to protest the ac­quit­tal of a white former St. Louis of­fi­cer in the shoot­ing of a black man, pick­ing up af­ter a night of mostly peace­ful demon­stra­tions that es­ca­lated into scat­tered acts of van­dal­ism and vi­o­lence.

A few hun­dred peo­ple walked through West County Cen­ter in Des Peres, an up­scale com­mu­nity west of St. Louis, loudly chant­ing slo­gans such as “black lives mat­ter” and “it is our duty to fight for our free­dom” to de­cry the judge’s ver­dict Fri­day clear­ing exSt. Louis po­lice of­fi­cer Ja­son Stock­ley of first-de­gree mur­der in the 2011 shoot­ing death of An­thony La­mar Smith. A short time later, they demon­strated at Ch­ester­field Mall and at a fes­ti­val fea­tur­ing res­tau­rant food from across the re­gion. No ar­rests were re­ported at any of the demon­stra­tions.

The mall protests fol­lowed rau­cous day­time marches in down­town St. Louis and through the city’s posh Cen­tral West End area dur­ing the night. Pro­test­ers were mak­ing it clear, they said, that the en­tire re­gion, not just pre­dom­i­nantly black ar­eas of St. Louis, should feel un­com­fort­able with the ver­dict and its im­pact.

“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, a 27-yearold white woman from Univer­sity City, an­other St. Louis sub­urb, 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.

The U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice said Satur­day it will not open a new civil rights in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the case. The head of the NAACP St. Louis had asked for a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Jus­tice De­part­ment spokes­woman Lau­ren Ehrsam said the de­part­ment con­cluded in Septem­ber 2016 that ev­i­dence did not sup­port pros­e­cu­tion un­der crim­i­nal civil rights statutes, but did not an­nounce it pub­licly un­til now to avoid im­pact­ing the state crim­i­nal case.


Pro­test­ers march through West County Mall in re­sponse to a not guilty ver­dict in the trial of former St. Louis po­lice of­fi­cer Ja­son Stock­ley Satur­day in Des Peres, Mo. Stock­ley was ac­quit­ted on Fri­day, in the 2011 killing of An­thony La­mar Smith, a black man, fol­low­ing a high-speed chase.

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