The Missouri Attorney General wants anti-rioting laws to be enforced, after this weekend’s vandalism across the St. Louis region.
The vandalism began Friday, after the Jason Stockley verdict.
Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) has written a letter to Democratic St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner, saying that he is “committed to upholding the constitutional rights of all Missourians, including the fundamental rights of peaceful protesters to engage in free speech and peaceable assembly. However, no person has the right to engage in violence or crime.”
Hawley tells Missourinet he’s offered all available resources to Prosecutor Gardner’s office.
“Missouri has laws against rioting, against vandalism, against assaulting police officers and those laws need to be enforced,” Hawley says. “And local prosecutors, local officials have the responsibility to enforce the law.”
Hawley says citizens who demonstrate peacefully must be protected, adding that vandals and looters must be prosecuted.
“Violence is not protected by the First Amendment,” says Hawley. “Violence is not a form of protest. That’s a crime and so we need to be crystal clear on that and then those who commit criminal acts need to be prosecuted.”
Gardner’s office has not responded yet to Missourinet’s inquiry of whether they plan to seek Hawley’s assistance.
St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson found Stockley not guilty on Friday of first degree murder and armed criminal action, for the December 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith during a police chase.
Meantime, St. Louis Police say they made 123 arrests on Sunday.
St. Louis Police say demonstrators gathered outside the St. Louis City Justice Center on Monday evening. The “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” reports there were about 1,000 protesters at the jail on Monday night.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol is assisting St. Louis Police, after the Stockley verdict. Highway Patrol Captain John Hotz tells Missourinet the Patrol is charged with protecting interstates and keeping them open.