Another night of violence in St. Louis

A massive police presence on the streets of St. Louis failed to deter violence from breaking out for the second night in a row following the acquittal of a former St. Louis policeman on first degree murder charges.

During the day, about 300 people marched peacefully through the streets of the city, protesting the killing of a young black drug dealer who was shot by now retired police officer Jason Stockley. Recordings show that Stockley announced he was going to kill Anthony Lamar Smith less than a minute before he fired his gun into Smith's car. Prosecutors also allege that Stockley planted a gun in Smith's vehicle.

But when night fell, police had their hands full.

St. Louis Post Dispatch:

Shortly before 11 p.m. at Leland and Delmar, a small group of protesters threw chunks of concrete at police and broke windows at numerous Delmar Loop businesses. A chair was thrown through the window of a Starbucks. One protester was seen hitting a police SUV with a hammer. Police made more than a half-dozen arrests witnessed by reporters, including a protester who was carried away by officers by his arms and legs. 


As the chaos escalated, scores of police officers in riot gear pushed forward against the demonstrators just after 11 p.m. — about two hours after daytime protest organizers had congratulated their followers on keeping their demonstrations peaceful.

By 11:30, about 200 police officers had pushed most of the protesters out of the area and the violence and vandalism appeared to be dissipating. The sidewalks along the vibrant area of restaurants and shops were strewn with glass from broken windows. 

Earlier in the day, hundreds of protesters marched through the Delmar Loop near nightfall Saturday, as Mayor Lyda Krewson appealed to residents for calm and normalcy going into the second night of protests.

"These are not the images we want to see of our city," Krewson told reporters at an early evening news conference, referring to violence in the Central West End the night before that included damage to her house. "We have some work to do here."

She implored residents to "go about their lives" amid canceled events and uncertainty about how long the unrest would continue. "I know our small-business owners would appreciate seeing you again," she said. "Of course, go to work, of course go out to eat. We shouldn't be so fearful here."

By shortly after 7 p.m. Saturday, more than a thousand protesters carrying "Black Lives Matter" signs and chanting things like "No Justice, No Profits" were blocking the major intersection at Skinker and Forest Park Parkway near Washington University.

Police later closed Delmar for the marchers, who were relatively peaceful going into the evening. Some yelled "F--- the police!" while others shook officers' hands.

About 300 protesters showed up at a local mall, chanting "No justice, no profits!"

There are many troubling aspects to this case, not the least of which is the fact that Stockley's DNA was found on the suspect's gun, but no trace of the suspects DNA was discovered. There is also video from inside Stockley's police cruiser that shows him reaching into a gym bag and pulling something out. Did he plant the gun? The prosecutor failed to make that case.

First degree murder was almost certainly a stretch, but given the facts in the case, negligent homicide or voluntary manslaughter might have been in order.

There is little argument that police need to protect themselves. But they also cannot go around executing people, no matter how bad or evil they are. This incident may or may not have been justified. But the violence in response to it is never justified nor can it be tolerated.



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