Largely peaceful protests Friday afternoon in St. Louis gave way to nighttime clashes between demonstrators and police in response to Friday’s acquittal of a white police officer for shooting and killing a black motorist in 2011. Roughly 1,000 protestors gathered around the house of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and broke two windows and threw paint on the house, before police intervened, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Nine officers were hurt and 32 people were arrested during the skirmishes, according to the St. Louis Police Department.
The demonstrations were in response to Friday’s acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, who faced first-degree murder charges for the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. The failure to convict Stockley sparked outrage because of the mountain of evidence that indicated Stockley manipulated the crime scene after saying explicitly, on tape, “we’re killing this motherfucker, don’t you know,” minutes before approaching Smith’s car and shooting him to death.
“Many of the demonstrators were peaceful,” Acting Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole said early Saturday morning. “However, after dark, many agitators began to destroy property and assault police officers.” Police used pepper spray on protesters and deployed tear gas to disperse the demonstrations.
Here’s more from the scene from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
After the large group of protesters was able to march unimpeded to [the mayor’s] home, gather on the lawn and knock on the door — a process that took some 30 minutes — the first police finally arrived and began pushing them back, firing canisters of tear gas. Journalists witnessed at least one arrest…
Earlier, police pepper-sprayed demonstrators Friday afternoon as they declared the ongoing protest at Tucker Boulevard and Clark Avenue downtown as “no longer peaceful”. By early evening, protesters had dissipated from downtown and were gathering in the Central West End. They filled the streets there as they marched through the neighborhood, their number growing to what appeared to be more than a thousand. At one point, they tried to enter Forest Park but were stopped by police. By nightfall, protesters were marching south on Kingshighway toward Highway 40 (Interstate 64), some chanting: “If you kill our kids, we kill your economy!”
… Later, protesters in the Central West End were pulling down American flags that lined the streets on Euclid, and burned several of them. At least one of the flag burning incidents, on a knoll near the interstate, led to a heated argument between factions of protesters.