More protests flare up in re­ac­tion to St. Louis po­lice ver­dict

Orlando Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - By Jim Sal­ter and Sum­mer Ballentine

ST. LOUIS — Noisy demon­stra­tors dis­rupted shop­ping at up­scale subur­ban malls Satur­day and later marched through a pop­u­lar district of bars and restau­rant to protest a white St. Louis po­lice of­fi­cer’s ac­quit­tal in the killing of a black man, mark­ing a se­cond day of mostly-peace­ful op­po­si­tion marred by spo­radic in­ci­dents of van­dal­ism and vi­o­lence

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 in Des Peres to de­cry the judge’s ver­dict Fri­day clear­ing for­mer Of­fi­cer Ja­son Stock­ley of first-de­gree mur­der in the 2011 shoot­ing of An­thony La­mar Smith.

A short time later, a group demon­strated at Ch­ester­field Mall and a re­gional food fes­ti­val. No ar­rests were re­ported at any of the demon­stra­tions.

It was a dif­fer­ent story the day be­fore. Po­lice said there were 33 ar­rests, 11 in­jured of­fi­cers and 10 busi­nesses were dam­aged. There also was prop­erty dam­age to Mayor Lyda Krew­son’s house dur­ing protests Fri­day.

“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 that read, “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 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.

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 event, or­ga­niz­ers said.

The band said on its web­site it couldn’t in good con­science risk its fans’ safety.

Po­lice gen­er­ally stayed a step ahead of pro­test­ers Fri­day, pre­vent­ing them from ef­forts to block an in­ter­state high­way or storm the city’s con­ven­tion cen­ter.

Pro­test­ers seemed to be tak­ing a dif­fer­ent tact on Satur­day. Dur­ing a morn­ing gath­er­ing in a subur­ban park they forced mem­bers of the me­dia to stand away from them, over the ob­jec­tions of re­porters, in­clud­ing one from The Associated Press. At that meet­ing, they de­vised the plan to meet at the malls.

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

SCOTT OLSON/GETTY IMAGES

Demon­stra­tors march through the West County Cen­ter, a mall in St. Louis, Mo., on Satur­day to protest the ac­quit­tal of for­mer St. Louis po­lice of­fi­cer Ja­son Stock­ley.

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