Second day of protests after ex-officer cleared of black man’s murder
Activists had threatened civil disobedience if Jason Stockley was not convicted over the 2011 death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.
Activists have held a second day of protests after the acquittal of a white former St Louis police officer over the fatal shooting of a black man.
Noisy demonstrators disrupted shopping at suburban malls and marched through a district of bars and restaurants on Saturday, but the protests were peaceful following sporadic vandalism and violence a night earlier.
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 Centre mall in Des Peres.
No arrests were reported at any of the demonstrations on Saturday.
Activists had for weeks threatened civil disobedience if Jason Stockley was not convicted over the 2011 death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.
The ex-officer was cleared of first-degree murder by a judge on Friday.
On Saturday evening, hundreds of protesters marched through 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 marches in downtown St Louis on Friday and through the city’s posh Central West End area during the night.
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, while nearly three-dozen people were arrested, police said, mostly for failure to disperse, resisting and interfering.
A total of 11 officers were injured on Friday, with injuries including a broken jaw and dislocated shoulder. Five officers were taken to hospital.
Police also said that 10 businesses were damaged, with mostly broken windows.
Anticipating more demonstrations, a U2 concert scheduled for Saturday and an Ed Sheeran gig on Sunday were cancelled because the police department said it wouldn’t be able to provide its standard protection for the event.
The protests follow the acquittal of Stockley for fatally shooting Smith, 24, after the suspected drug dealer fled from officers trying to arrest him.
Stockley insisted he saw Smith holding a gun and felt he was in imminent danger. Prosecutors said the officer planted a gun in Smith’s car after the shooting.
Stockley, 36, who left the force in 2013 and moved to Houston, told the St Louis Post-Dispatch after the verdict: “I know everyone wants someone to blame, but I’m just not the guy.”
Smith’s death is just one of several high-profile US 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.
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