A group of St. Louis area faith and elected leaders is outraged by reports of individuals being injured, some body-slammed, by police during Saturday protests. Demonstrators and customers were among at least 22 arrested at the St. Louis Galleria Mall.
Ongoing demonstrations have occurred in the St. Louis region since a judge’s ruling earlier this month acquitting Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Stockley, who is white, shot to death Smith, who was African-American, during a 2011 police chase.
Galleria Mall management asked that all of the protesters be removed on Saturday. Police ordered them to leave. Those who allegedly did not follow those demands were arrested.
A photo has circulated online of one of the individuals arrested. A St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer captured a photo of a 13-year-old boy being held down at the mall by law enforcement. Distraught family members were trying to help the boy. He was later released to his parents.
A St. Louis County Police Department officer was transported to a local hospital for a back injury.
More than 100 protesters also gathered outside America’s Center in downtown St. Louis. No one was arrested.
Among the group speaking out about the actions of officers involved in the protests include State Rep. Stacey Newman, D-Richmond Heights, St. Louis County Councilwoman Rochelle Walton Gray, D, Rev. Karen Anderson – Ward Chapel AME Church and Board Chair of Metropolitan Congregations United; Rev. Cassandra Gould – E.D. of Missouri Faith Voices and Religious Affairs Chair, Missouri NAACP; Rev. Steven Shepard – St. Peters AME Church; Rabbi Susan Talve – Central Reform Congregation.
Rep. Newman says “police riot” tactics during peaceful protests are unacceptable.
“The violence was from the police and that should alarm every single one of us,” says Newman. “That’s why we intend to investigate until we get these answers.”
The group wants investigations by the St. Louis County Councils, U.S. Department of Justice and Missouri Legislature.
“We need to be focusing on unity. We have to stand up against these extreme police tactics,” says Newman. “They need to know that this is not acceptable. This is not anti-law enforcement, but it’s holding them accountable for some of these tactics that are being used.”
Newman says some individuals were denied their medication and access to their attorneys while in jail. Some of those jailed are expected to file lawsuits.
Missourinet has requested a response from the St. Louis County police department.