Protests continue in St. Louis after officer’s acquittal in slaying
ST. LOUIS — Noisy demonstrators disrupted shopping at upscale suburban malls on Saturday and later marched through a district of bars and restaurants to protest a white St. Louis police officer’s acquittal in the killing of a black man. It marked 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 ex-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.
Later, hundreds of protesters gathered in the Delmar Loop of the St. Louis suburb of University City, known for concert venues, restaurants, shops and bars.
The 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 be upset with the verdict and feel 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.
Federal prosecutors said Saturday that they won’t open a new civil rights investigation into the killing, as the NAACP requested. Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam said the department decided earlier 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 protests 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.
Reed said protesters went to Krewson’s house because despite her support on social media, she was not in the streets with the people.
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.
Democratic St. Louis Rep. Michael Butler said police were aggressive and antagonized protesters who were largely nonviolent. Both he and Reed said violence by a few was unfairly used to describe protests as a whole.
The rock band U2 canceled Saturday’s concert in St. Louis because police said they wouldn’t be able to provide their standard protection for the event, organizers said.
In Des Peres, Mo., a protester yelled as a woman rushed to close a store’s doors as demonstrators marched through West County Mall in response to Friday’s verdict.