Third day of protests expected in St. Louis over police acquittal


ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – A third day of protests were expected in St. Louis on Sunday after the acquittal of a white former policeman in the fatal shooting of a black man, demonstrations that evoked memories of riots following the 2014 shooting of a black teenager by a white officer in nearby Ferguson.

Protesters were to hold a rally outside police headquarters at 3 p.m. CDT (2000 GMT) and deliver a single demand, one of the organizers, Tory Russell, said without giving details.

“We are going to disrupt and be very innovative. The world will see,” said Russell, who is with the International Black Freedom Alliance, one of the organizers of the protest.

The protests started on Friday after Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson acquitted former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, 36, of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.

Protesters clashed with police that night, leading rock band U2 to cancel its Saturday concert in St. Louis.

In the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson the killing of a black teenager by a white police officer in 2014 triggered sometime violent protests that spread around the United States, fueled by police killings of unarmed black men. It also helped spark debate about racial bias in the U.S. justice system.

Thirty-three people were arrested and 10 officers injured by early Saturday morning in St. Louis. Police said protesters also damaged Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home.

Red paint is splattered on the shield of a policeman during the second night of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 16, 2017. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant

Violence flared anew on Saturday night when about 100 protesters, some holding bats or hammers, skirmished with police in riot gear.

Store and restaurant windows along a commercial strip in west St. Louis were smashed, and police said they arrested at least nine people.

In the Loop district where Saturday’s skirmishes broke out, the Sunday brunch scene was bustling and some shop owners painted murals on the plywood used to board up smashed windows.

Lamar Williams, 65, stood outside a book shop whose windows were smashed, selling newspapers to raise money for a local charity.

“Back in my day, we used to link arms in peaceful marches. We didn’t get into this kind of destruction,” Williams said.

Smith was shot in his car after Stockley and his partner chased him following what authorities said was a drug deal. Prosecutors argued that Stockley planted a weapon in Smith’s car, but the judge said be believed the gun belonged to Smith.

Stockley left the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in 2013. Smith’s family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the city for $900,000 in 2013.

An informal group of St. Louis-based activists known as the Ferguson frontline have organized the protests. The group has focused on what it describes as institutional racism since Ferguson.

Additional reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Jeffrey Benkoe

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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