At least ten law enforcement officers were injured and nearly three dozen people were arrested in connection with protests that turned violent on Friday in St. Louis. Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson’s decision on Friday to clear former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder sparked demonstrations that are expected to continue through at least Monday evening.
The popular music group U2 cancelled its show scheduled for this evening at the dome. Activists threatened to shut down the St. Louis concert. The group cited lack of security for cancelling the show.
The crowd swelled from about 250 demonstrators during the day to about 1,000 at night. A television reporter was surrounded by demonstrators during the day. Some got in his face, yelled at him to leave and threw water bottles at the man. Two protesters peacefully escorted the reporter to safety.
At one point, demonstrators marched up a ramp in an attempt to close Interstate 40/64. They were met by dozens of police officers at the top of the ramp, preventing them from entering the highway. At that point, the protestors turned around and headed back down the ramp.
Video that circulated on Twitter showed a couple of protesters who showed up openly carrying rifles and other firearms because Missouri laws allow law-abiding citizens to do so.
Protesting during the daylight hours on Friday was mostly peaceful. When night fell, however, it was a different story. In some cases, tear gas and mace were used by police to try and restore control.
Protesters threw rocks and bricks at officers. Most of the officers’ injuries are minor. However, one is suffering from a dislocated shoulder and another could have a broken jaw.
About 1,000 demonstrators converged on St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson’s house last night, throwing bricks at it, breaking at least two windows and throwing paint at her house.
Protesters tried to enter the Forest Park balloon race last night but police blocked them from going in.
Stockley was on trial for the shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. Stockley, 36, fatally shot Smith following a police chase in north St. Louis back in 2011.
“This court, in conscience, cannot say that the State has proven every element of murder beyond a reasonable doubt or that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self-defense,” Wilson wrote in his decision.
This ruling came down more than a month after Stockley’s bench trial ended.
Race is at the center of this civil unrest. The outcry is over Stockley being white a police officer who killed Smith, a black suspect.
Zaki Baruti, a prominent activist during the Ferguson protests, said he was outraged by the ruling, but not surprised.
“You have white police officers shooting black men down, they always exonerate them, so that’s not only reflective of the KKK mentality of many of the police officers in this city as well as this country, it’s also reflective of the judicial system.” Baruti said.
Mike Brown, Sr., the father of the Ferguson teen killed in a police shooting in 2014 was also at Friday afternoon’s protests. Brown said this has triggered the pain of losing own son.
“It’s a repeat of what I went through. I’m reliving what this family is going through.” Brown said.
Brown also offered words of encouragement to Smith’s family, “I would definitely tell them never give up. Stay in the faith and hopefully something else could change.”
Baruti said there will be more civil unrest. He claims some will be “planned, while others spontaneous. Stay tuned.”
Jill Enders contributed to this story.