Misery in Missouri
CHANTING DEMONSTRATORS marched through the upscale St. Louis suburbs Saturday night in a fresh wave of protests over the acquittal of a white cop in the fatal shooting of a black man.
The rallies in the streets of Des Peres and University City were free of the vandalism and violence that marred the protests on Friday night.
Ten police officers suffered injuries including a broken jaw and dislocated shoulder during demonstrations in downtown St. Louis that began Friday and stretched into the early hours of Saturday.
The mayor’s home was damaged by protesters who threw rocks and paint.
Demonstrators were furious over a judge’s decision to acquit former Police Officer Jason Stockley of murder in the 2011 death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith (photo, holding daughter).
The officer was also accused of planting a gun in Smith’s car following a high speed chase.
By noon Saturday, as shopkeepers boarded up their broken windows, several dozen demonstrators were again marching through the West County Center mall chanting “Black lives matter!” and “No justice, no profits!”
No injuries or arrests were reported as panicked workers at Macy’s and other retailers closed their doors and security shutters. A second protest was held at the nearby Chesterfield Mall.
The chaos Friday began when hundreds of protesters turned out in the upscale Central West End section, chanting and carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs with anti-police slogans on them.
The protest seemed relatively peaceful until, during a rally outside of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home, the house was pelted with rocks and paint. Another rock was thrown through a restaurant window and two American flags were burned.
Several people were filmed jumping and dancing on the hood of a police car, with one man breaking the windshield.
Cops in riot gear fired tear gas pellets and pepper balls into the crowd after an unlawful assembly was declared at 11 p.m.
“The mayor’s home sustained damage,” St. Louis Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole said in a video posted on Twitter late Friday.
“Windows were also broken in the West End and at the St. Louis library. Orders to disperse (were) given numerous times and tear gas was ordered after officers were assaulted with bricks and bottles.”
Krewson, who wasn’t home at the time, called the vandalism “irritating.”
“This story is not about whether I got my windows broken or not,” Krewson said at a news conference Saturday.
“This is about coming together to have a better St. Louis for all of us.”
Friday’s unrest filled streets less than 15 miles from suburban Ferguson, Mo., where protests sparking the Black Lives Matter movement erupted in 2014 following the death of unarmed teen Michael Brown by a police officer. Stockley, 36, resigned from the St. Louis Police in 2013 and was charged last year with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. He pleaded not guilty and waived his right to a jury trial.
Prosecutors argued that the Smith shooting was premeditated, and that Stockley, who can be heard in a dash-cam video saying he’s “going to kill this motherf----,” planted a gun in Smith’s car, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
In an exclusive interview with the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Stockley said he understands the anger over the shooting but insists he did nothing wrong.
“I did not murder Anthony Lamar Smith. I did not plant a gun,” Stockley said. “I can feel for and I understand what the family is going through, and I know everyone wants someone to blame, but I’m just not the guy.”
Most protests in St. Louis began peacefully after acquittal of white officer in 2011 killing of a black driver, but later Friday night there were clashes and 10 cops were hurt.