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