ST. LOUIS – Police in St. Louis protected in riot gear arrested dozens more criminals Sunday night. This followed the latest round of clashes with demonstrators protesting the acquittal Friday, of former St. Louis police officer, Jason Stockley.
Fox News reports that at least 80 arrests were made in what was the third night of violence in the city.
Acquittal of Former St. Louis Police Officer
Stockley, a white man, was on trial for murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. Stockley shot Smith at the end of a vehicle pursuit. Prosecutors alleged that Stockley planted a gun in Smith’s vehicle to justify the shooting.
Stockley requested that a judge rather than a jury, despite objections from prosecutors, hear the case. Therefore, Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson oversaw the bench trial. As a result, he ultimately ruled that Stockley was not guilty of the charge of murder in the first degree.
Protests Have Turned into Weekend of Violence
The verdict has enraged some of the city’s residents, prompting daily protests that at times turned violent. Both Friday and Saturday, the protesters got agitated and confronted the police officers. Thirty were arrested on Saturday night. On Sunday, hundreds marched through the downtown streets of St. Louis. Despite the march remaining peaceful in the early hours amid the deployment of massive police forces, the protest turned violent by nightfall after roughly 100 protesters became confrontational while marching towards the center of downtown.
The lawless-violent agitators, broke business windows, damaged property, and sprayed unknown substance on police officers. One Middle Eastern business in particular was highlighted as having its’ street side windows smashed.
One officer sustained a leg injury and was taken to the hospital, the police said. This is in addition to ten others injured earlier.
Order to Disperse
As a result of the violence, the St. Louis Police Department issued an order to disperse at 8:50 p.m. Sunday.
Police giving order to disperse immediately at Tucker and Pine. This is no longer a peaceful protest. #stlverdict
— St. Louis, MO Police (@SLMPD) September 18, 2017
Officers Reclaim the Streets
After ignoring the call to disperse, arrests were made before midnight by officers donning riot gear. As a result, they successfully cleared the streets of protesters. “Whose streets, our streets,” some cops shouted as they liberated the streets from violent agitators.
Support From Governor
Republican Gov. Eric Greitens told Fox News reporter Griff Jenkins, in these circumstances, the police need to be actively engaged. In the past, leaders have given protesters a “safe space to loot and to burn.” He emphasized that criminal acts would not be tolerated in Missouri while they protect citizens, businesses, and non-violent protesters.
“When people decided to vandalize vehicles, they were arrested. When they assaulted our law enforcement officers, they were arrested,” said Gov. Greitens.
“In Missouri, now, if you loot, the only safe space you’re going to have is in a jail cell.”
Greitens wanted to be clear. The peaceful protesters would be protected, while those perpetuating violence would be arrested.
Organizers of the protest fear that violent marchers are giving a bad name to the cause, making it harder to spread the message.
Mayor Lyda Krewson told reporters at a late-night news conference that “the vast majority of protesters are non-violent,” and the violence was perpetrated by “a group of agitators,” Reuters reported. And that is in the aftermath of her personal residence being vandalized.
State Representative Participates in Protest
Bruce Franks, Democratic State Representative, who participated in the march, seconded the Mayor, saying people who engage in violence “are not protesters” but rather a distinctive group from the actual marchers.
Protest organizer Anthony Bell, however, said that while he believes non-violence is the best way to achieve change, he does not condemn the violent protesters, citing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“I do not say the demonstrators are wrong, but I believe peaceful demonstrations are the best,” he said.
Some protesters have sounded foolish by trying to defend their actions. They claimed the violence was perpetuated by police showing up in riot gear and armored vehicles. Even the casual observer can conclude the safety measures are prudent. Police have been subjected to violence as bricks and bottles were thrown at them, injuring several officers already.
As a result of the violence, there has been at least 10 St. Louis police officers and a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper that have been injured. The injuries were sustained when assaultive protesters threw bricks at the police. Chief O’Toole indicated the injuries range from a possible broken jaw to a dislocated shoulder.
(Photo: Screenshot Fox News broadcast)