More protests fol­low ac­quit­tal

The Columbus Dispatch - - Not To Be Missed - By Tom O’Neil and Vi­vian Wang

ST. LOUIS — On edge af­ter a night of protests that led to dozens of ar­rests and a bro­ken win­dow at the mayor’s home, more demon­stra­tions came Satur­day af­ter the ac­quit­tal of a white for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer who shot and killed a black driver.

Busi­nesses and com­mu­nity groups an­nounced clos­ings, can­cel­la­tions and post­pone­ments af­ter protests ran deep into the night Fri­day, and demon­stra­tion lead­ers, out­raged by the ac­quit­tal, said more marches were planned.

Ten­sions here have seemed es­pe­cially high, in part be­cause the re­gion has been at the cen­ter of the na­tion’s de­bate over po­lice treat­ment of black peo­ple. St. Louis is about 10 miles south of Fer­gu­son, where un­rest erupted three years ago af­ter another po­lice shoot­ing.

City and state law en­force­ment of­fi­cials re­peat­edly struck a note of warn­ing Satur­day, promis­ing that they would not tol­er­ate vi­o­lence dur­ing the protests. But as of Satur­day af­ter­noon, the protests had un­folded with­out in­ci­dent.

In the morn­ing, about 200 peo­ple gath­ered in a park in Univer­sity City, out­side St. Louis, pre­par­ing to march. Joan Bray, 72, a for­mer state law­maker who was in the crowd, said she was dis­tressed “that the ver­dict was so in­evitable,” adding, “It’s so sided to the po­lice.”

Protesters con­verged on West County Cen­ter, a subur­ban mall about 20 miles from St. Louis. At the mall, which was also a site of Fer­gu­son protests, demon­stra­tors chanted, “You can’t stop rev­o­lu­tion” and “No jus­tice, no prof­its.”

A few stores closed their se­cu­rity gates but re­opened af­ter the demon­stra­tors had passed. Po­lice of­fi­cers stood nearby.

The demon­stra­tions con­tin­ued at var­i­ous re­tail sites in the af­ter­noon. Protesters marched through the Ch­ester­field Mall, another subur­ban shop­ping cen­ter west of St. Louis, and then to the Taste of St. Louis, an out­door ex­hi­bi­tion for lo­cal restau­rants.

Mike Ko­ciela, the pro­ducer of the Taste of St. Louis, wel­comed the marchers, who cheered. Some protesters were al­lowed to take the mi­cro­phone at the band­stand.

“We love you. Whether you love us back is ir­rel­e­vant,” Cori Bush, 41, an AfricanAmer­i­can ac­tivist from the sub­urb of Floris­sant, told the mostly white pa­trons. “We are not try­ing to take any­one hostage. We are here to let you know that black lives mat­ter.”

The band U2 can­celed a con­cert sched­uled for Satur­day night at the Dome at Amer­ica’s Cen­ter in St. Louis be­cause the city’s Po­lice Depart­ment could not pro­vide enough of­fi­cers for se­cu­rity, a state­ment on the band’s web­site said.

[JEFF ROBERSON/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS]

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

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