Seven people were taken into custody in downtown St. Louis on Sunday night as demonstrators broke windows and uprooted plants. Peaceful protests were held earlier over a white police officer’s acquittal in the shooting death of a black man. (Sept. 18)
ST. LOUIS — More than 100 protesters peacefully marched arm-in-arm to City Hall on Monday, hours after a third night of violence resulted in 80 more arrests following the acquittal of a white police officer in the fatal shooting of a black motorist.
The protesters marched through the streets for about an hour before clearing the area. Police escorted the group while stopping and rerouting traffic, and no injuries or arrests were reported.
If the pattern holds, however, Monday night could see more chaos. Earlier Monday, Mayor Lyda Krewson said the vast majority of protesters continue to be non-violent. She said a peaceful protest had wrapped up Sunday night when “agitators” became destructive.
“A group of agitators stayed behind, apparently intent on destroying property,” she said. “It is not acceptable.”
Krewson acknowledged that the city must provide more opportunities “for all our citizens. But destruction cannot be tolerated.”
More: Protests turn violent again in St. Louis after ex-cop acquitted of murder
More: Jason Stockley verdict shows how rare officer convictions are in police shootings
Some protesters became upset Sunday night after an unmarked police vehicle backed quickly through the crowd. Police, who said some bottles were thrown at officers after the incident, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch the car had to back through the crowd because of road closures.
It was not clear how much of the violence was sparked by that incident.
When the streets had finally calmed early Monday, Interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole said more than 80 arrests had been made and five weapons confiscated. He said several officers suffered minor or moderate injuries and all would soon return to work.
“I’m proud to tell you the city of St. Louis is safe and police own the night,” O’Toole said. “We are in control of this city and we are going to protect it.”
Earlier Sunday, hundreds of protesters marched in a third consecutive day of demonstrations since a judge acquitted former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.
Stockley, 36, shot Smith while officers were attempting to arrest him and another man accused of involvement in a drug deal. Stockley testified at his trial that he felt threatened because Smith was holding a gun.
Prosecutors claimed Stockley planted the gun at the scene, and only Stockley’s DNA was found on the weapon. Stockley’s dashcam video, recorded seconds before the shooting, also showed him saying he was “going to kill this (expletive).”
Stockley waived his right to a jury, instead opting for a bench trial. Judge Timothy Wilson ruled Friday that prosecutors failed to prove the shooting was premeditated.
The decision prompted peaceful protests Friday. But that night, 11 police officers were injured in violence that led to dozens of arrests. About a dozen businesses were damaged, and protesters also vandalized Krewson’s home.
Saturday saw more peaceful protests, and Saturday night saw mayhem. The suburban University City Police Department said 23 businesses and five police vehicles were damaged by people throwing rocks, bricks and other debris. At least nine arrests were made that night.
Anthony Bell, one of the organizers of the protests, blamed the unrest on years of discrimination and oppression.
“I do not say the demonstrators are wrong, but I believe peaceful demonstrations are the best,” Bell said.
Bernhard reports for KSDK-TV in St. Louis, Bacon for USA TODAY in McLean, Va. Contributing: Associated Press
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