Protest against acquittal of officer turns violent

Pablo Tucker
September 18, 2017

Protests over a United States circuit court judge's decision to acquit a white former police officer of murder in the shooting death of a black man caught on tape have spread in St Louis, Missouri.

ST LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 16: Demonstrators march through the West County Mall protesting the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley on September 16, 2017 in St. Louis, Missouri. The department said "agitators" descended on the home of the city's mayor, Lyda Krewson, and threw rocks, breaking windows. They eventually got up, left police headquarters and began marching in the streets, chanting "we fight back!"

Former police officer Stockley was found not guilty of first-degree murder and armed critical action on Friday, nearly six years after the incident happened when he shot Smith five times after a high-speed vehicle chase that ended with a collision. The group taunted officers who arrived in riot gear by the busload.

Around 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, protest organizers "had congratulated their followers on keeping their demonstrations peaceful". "If group can not be peaceful, they will be ordered to leave", the St. Louis Police Department said on Twitter. A total of 11 law enforcement officers were injured in protests, according to St. Louis Metro Police Department Chief Lawrence O'Toole. There was much anticipation of protest and violence as authorities have been preparing for the finality of the case days before the decision was announced. At least one demonstrator was treated after he was hit with pepper spray.

In other words, the police say they have their hands full with demonstrations through other parts of the city. The band told disappointed concert goers "we can not in good conscience risk our fans' safety by proceeding with tonight's concert".

Suburban St. Louis shop owners on Sunday swept up broken glass and boarded up storefront windows that were shattered overnight when a day of peaceful protests turned violent.

St. Louis is not having it.

Mr Stockley shot Mr Smith after he and his partner fled from police on a high-speed chase as they tried to arrest him for a suspected drug deal.

Events, including concerts by Ed Sheeran and U2 have been cancelled because police say they can not provide aqequate security resources given the levels of unrest.

"In the past we've had leaders who've said "Well, it's okay, we're going to give people a safe space to loot", Greitens said. Stockley maintained that Smith reached for the gun and that he shot Smith in self defense. Prosecutors said the officer planted a gun in Smith's auto after the shooting.

Stockley was also accused of planting a gun on Smith.

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