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St. Louis protest turns violent after earlier peaceful march over police acquittal

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People march day after the not guilty verdict in the murder trial of Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 16, 2017.

ST. LOUIS  - Clashes between demonstrators and riot-clad police marred the end of what had been a largely peaceful second day of protest rallies in St Louis following the acquittal of a white police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man.

Several hundred people had gathered near Washington University after dark as the main rallies and marches wound down on Saturday evening.

And, as the night wore on violence broke out between around 100 chanting protesters, some holding bats or hammers, and police who ordered them to disperse.

Several shop windows were smashed and trash cans were hurled at officers clad in riot gear, who moved the protesters back, having declared the scene an unlawful assembly and threatening to deploy tear gas.

At least seven people were arrested.

The demonstrations began peacefully on Friday after Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson acquitted former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley, 36, of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.

But as on Saturday, Friday’s protests had also ended in late night violence, with 33 people arrested following clashes on which 10 officers were hurt.

“We don’t want to see property destruction or see people getting hurt,” Elad Gross, a 29-year-old St. Louis civil rights attorney, told Reuters as activists gathered peacefully at another protest site in a park on Saturday.

“But this is a protest that addresses injustices not only happening here in St. Louis but around the country.”

The classic rock band U2 canceled a concert scheduled for Saturday night in St. Louis, and singer Ed Sheeran did the same for his show on Sunday, citing security concerns.

“Deeply saddened at what has happened in St. Louis and having to cancel our show tonight,” U2 singer Bono said in a post on Instagram that cited civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King.

“I found myself reading Dr. King’s speech from the National Cathedral and asking myself is this 1968 or 2017?”

The latest verdict came about three years after rioting broke out in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson when a black teenager was shot dead by a white police officer. That incident touched off a nationwide soul-searching over law enforcement’s use of force against African-Americans, the mentally ill and other groups.
REACTION TO VERDICT


After Friday’s ruling, some 600 chanting protesters marched from the courthouse through downtown St. Louis, some of them holding “Black Lives Matter” signs.

Later, some broke windows at a library and two restaurants and threw bricks and bottles at officers, who used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the throng. At one point, demonstrators threw rocks and paint at the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, police said.

Smith was shot five times in his car after attempting to elude Stockley and his partner, who had chased the suspect after an alleged drug deal, authorities said.

During the pursuit, Stockley could be heard saying on an internal police car video he was going to kill Smith, prosecutors said.

Stockley believed that Smith was armed, defense attorneys said, and a gun was found in the car. But prosecutors argued Stockley planted the weapon and the gun had only Stockley’s DNA on it.

Stockley, who left the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in 2013 and was arrested last year, had waived his right to a jury trial, allowing the judge to decide.

“This court, as a trier of fact, is simply not firmly convinced of defendant’s guilt,” Judge Wilson wrote in his ruling.

Smith’s family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the city for $900,000 in 2013, according to Al Watkins, an attorney for Smith’s fiancĂ©e, Christina Wilson.

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Muslim Global: St. Louis protest turns violent after earlier peaceful march over police acquittal
St. Louis protest turns violent after earlier peaceful march over police acquittal
Clashes between demonstrators and riot-clad police marred the end of what had been a largely peaceful second day of protest rallies in St Louis following the acquittal of a white police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man.
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