Third Night of Violent Demonstrations Protesting Police Officer Acquittal, 80+ Arrested


Third night of violence as police confiscate several weapons from demonstrators

More than 80 demonstrators were arrested after a third night of violent protests in St. Louis Sunday night September 17, 2017 following the acquittal of a former police officer who had been charged with first-degree murder.

Arrests occurred after police officers were assaulted and “a concentrated area” in the city was hit with vandalism.

Protesters smashed windows, broke sidewalk flower pots and overturned trash cans.

“Some criminals assaulted law enforcement officers and threw chemicals and rocks at them. All of the officers’ injuries were minor or moderate. All will be returned to duty soon,” Police Commissioner Larry O’Toole told media at a briefing late Sunday.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson blamed the vandalism on “agitators.”

“The days have been calm, but the nights have been destructive. After the demonstrations, organizers announce that the daytime protests over. But a group of agitators stay behind apparently intent on breaking windows and destroying property. This is not acceptable.”

— St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson

The demonstrations began Friday after a former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted in the shooting death of a motorist.

In December 2011, then St. Louis officer Jason Stockley shot and killed motorist Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, after a police chase regarding a suspected drug deal. Stockley is white; the man he killed was black.

Stockley left the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in August 2013, and also in 2013, the St. Louis police board settled a wrongful death suit with Smith’s survivors for $900,000. State and federal authorities did not initially prosecute Stockley, but in the aftermath of St. Louis suburban Ferguson protests, then-St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce charged Stockley with first-degree murder in May 2016. Joyce cited new evidence was discovered.

Stockley’s defense stated that before firing he had ordered Smith to show his hands and believed the suspect was reaching for a handgun. He said he entered Smith’s car to locate the weapon and render the handgun safe. Prosecutors argued that a revolver found in Smith’s car had been planted by Stockley to justify the shooting.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson said the prosecution’s argument was “not supported by the evidence.” The gun was too large, Wilson said, for Stockley to hide it from the cameras at the scene. Stockton was acquitted and Smith’s family immediately voiced their opposition to the decision.

On Friday protesters began by locking arms and praying together, but later and into Friday night, other protesters smashed the windshield of a police vehicle and threw bricks, rocks and water bottles at law enforcement.

St. Louis police said the demonstrators also threw rocks at Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home and that 11 law enforcement officers were injured.

Video images showed officers using tear gas to disperse the crowds after police declared an unlawful assembly. Police Commissioner Larry O’Toole said police officers used pepper balls.

At least 33 people were arrested on Friday September 15, 2017, according to a police tweet.

On Saturday, peaceful protests escalated to violence with a group of protesters throwing bricks, rocks and projectiles with paint at police. Nine people were arrested.

Demonstrators also entered two area shopping malls over the weekend. Many chanted, “Black lives matter,” video on social media shows.


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