Protests have gone on for a second day in St Louis after a white, former police officer was acquitted of the fatal shooting of a black suspect in 2011. Despite the tension between demonstrators and police, no major incidents were reported.
Hundreds of people briefly marched through the upscale West County Mall Center mall in Des Peres Saturday, chanting “shut it down!”. Authorities were taking steps to close the mall before protesters arrived, and many shops had already metal security screens over their store fronts. Unlike Friday, however, there were no reported incidents between protesters and police.
“We don’t want to see property destruction or see people getting hurt,” Elad Gross, a civil rights attorney, told Reuters. “But this is a protest that addresses injustices not only happening here in St Louis but around the country.”
On Friday, former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of shooting dead Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, in 2011. Smith was shot five times in his car after being chased by Stockley and his partner on suspicion of being involved in a drug deal. A gun was later found in the car.
Stockley claimed he thought Smith was going to shoot him, but it was only the officer’s DNA was found on the weapon and being heard on an internal police car video saying he was going to kill Smith, which led prosecutors to claim the gun was planted.
Stockley waived his right to a jury trial, allowing Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson to consider the verdict instead. In his ruling, Judge Wilson wrote that he was “not convinced” of Stockley’s guilt.
After the verdict was read out, around 600 people marched from the courthouse to center of St Louis, some waving Black Lives Matter placards. Some of the demonstrators started breaking windows and hurling bricks and bottles at police, and in the resulting chaos nine officers were injured and 23 protesters arrested.