St. Louis pro­test­ers go to up­scale malls, sub­urbs

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - NATION | WORLD - BY JIM SAL­TER AND SUM­MER BALLENTINE

ST. LOUIS — Noisy demon­stra­tors dis­rupted shop­ping at up­scale sub­ur­ban malls on Satur­day and later marched through a pop­u­lar dis­trict of bars and restau­rants 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 ex­of­fi­cer 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.

As dusk neared, hun­dreds of pro­test­ers gath­ered in the Del­mar Loop of the St. Louis sub­urb of Univer­sity City, known for con­cert venues, restau­rants, shops and bars and in­clud­ing the fa­mous Blue­berry Hill where rock leg­end Chuck Berry played for many years.

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.

Su­sanna Prins, 27, a white woman from Univer­sity City, car­ried a sign read­ing, “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 just 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. Jus­tice De­part­ment spokes­woman Lau­ren Ehrsam said the de­part­ment con­cluded in Septem­ber not to pros­e­cute, but didn’t an­nounce it then to avoid af­fect­ing the state crim­i­nal case.

[AP PHOTO]

Pro­test­ers march Satur­day through West County Mall in Des Peres, Mo. in re­sponse to a not-guilty ver­dict in the trial of former St. Louis po­lice of­fi­cer Ja­son Stock­ley.

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