St. Louis protesters make way into suburbs, shopping malls
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 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.
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.
Protesters march Saturday through West County Mall in response to a not guilty verdict in the trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley in Des Peres, Mo. Stockley was acquitted Friday in the 2011 killing of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man, following a high-speed chase.