Second Night of Protests in St. Louis Devolves into Riot
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of St. Louis Friday and Saturday to protest the controversial acquittal of white former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, who was facing first-degree murder charges for killing a black heroin dealer named Anthony Smith in 2011.
The protests devolved into riots on both nights, with violence and mayhem breaking out in the streets.
Several protesters -- including a young child -- were filmed jumping on and smashing the windshield of a police SUV on Friday night.
A group surrounded the old court house guarded by park rangers, one of whom had to be pulled inside the building to avoid a clash.
One teenager threw cement chunks at officers.
On Friday night protesters burned American flags and shattered windows of the mayor's house and several store fronts.
A Fox 2 anchor was surrounded and assaulted by protesters in what he described on Facebook as "the scariest moment" in his news career.
A video, taken by the Fox 2 photographer, shows a large group of rioters harassing the anchor Dan Gray while others in the group tried to protect him.
One man can be heard angrily yelling, “You shouldn’t even be over here.… Get the f*ck out of our movement, motherf*cker!”
The group threw water and water bottles at Gray as he left.
At one point, as a police line was approaching some unruly rioters in the street, an elderly woman attempted to block them and was knocked over. Some in the media are reporting that the police “trampled a defenseless woman.”
The police blog Blue Lives Matters begs to differ:
The police officers were being belted with rocks and water bottles, prompting them to respond with pepper spray. Throughout this all, the woman in red can be seen standing with her hands up.
After continually having object thrown at them, the police officers issued a dispersal order and most of the crowd dissipated. The woman in red decided to remain along with some photographers and agitators.
St. Louis radio host Charlie Brennan was on scene and said that the police were telling people over megaphones “This is an unlawful assembly. You will be subject to arrest.”
The woman responded by telling others to get behind her “because the police won’t bother an old lady,” according to New York Post, who reported the incident as a trampling.
After giving the crowd plenty of time to disperse, the police line finally started forward, anybody who was close got pepper sprayed, except for the woman in red.
Officers continued moving their line forward and she stood her ground to try to hold them back. An officer held his hand out to drive her forward, then she appears to turn around and dramatically fell to the ground as officers largely ignored her and stepped over her.
She was then arrested for interfering and apparently uninjured.
One officer suffered a dislocated shoulder from a thrown brick. Another one's jaw was broken. There were several head injuries. All told, eleven police officers were injured during the riot on Friday night.
St. Louis PD also released a list of the property damage done to businesses on Friday night.
There were 33 arrests:
Saturday's protests also started out peacefully, but turned violent after dark.
Between 200 and 300 protesters disrupted shopping at upscale suburban malls and later marched through a popular district of bars and restaurants in an effort to make people in those areas feel "uncomfortable."
Via the Chicago Tribune:
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 mall 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.
On Saturday evening, they continued their protest, marching through the popular Delmar Loop in the St. Louis suburb of University City, known for its concert venues, restaurants, shops, and bars.
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.
It didn't take long for things to get "uncomfortable" for local businesses in the area.
After three hours of marching and chanting through the Delmar Loop, most protesters left with plans to gather and protest again Sunday afternoon in St. Louis.
A small but violent group remained, taunting and throwing projectiles at the police. They also broke the windows of local businesses and damaged at least one police vehicle.
Via ABC News:
They vandalized businesses and threw rocks, water bottles and garbage can lids at police officers, The Associated Press reported. A chair was thrown through the window of a Starbucks, and one protester was also spotted hitting a police SUV with a hammer, according to the Post-Dispatch.
As riot police marched down the street, an enraged bar owner stood among broken glass and screamed at the protesters.
There were nine arrests Saturday night between the St. Louis PD and the St. Louis County PD.
There were no reports of injuries Saturday night.
Once the rioters were cleared out, it was clean-up time for the vandalized establishments.
More protests are planned in St. Louis for Sunday.