More Than 80 Arrested as Riot Police Break up St. Louis Protest Over Officer’s Acquittal

September 18, 2017 Updated: September 18, 2017

ST. LOUIS—More than 80 people were arrested on Sunday night as protests in St Louis over the acquittal of a white policeman who had shot a black man turned violent for a third night running.

Police in riot gear used pepper spray and arrested the demonstrators who had defied orders to disperse following a larger, peaceful protest.

After nightfall, a small group remained and the scene turned to one of disorder, following the pattern of Friday and Saturday. Protesters smashed windows and attempted to block a ramp to an interstate highway, police and witnesses said.

Officers tackled some protesters who defied police orders and used pepper spray before starting the mass arrests.

Police detain protesters arrested for causing damage to local businesses during the second night of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri on Sept. 16, 2017. (REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant)
Police detain protesters arrested for causing damage to local businesses during the second night of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri on Sept. 16, 2017. (REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant)

 

 

At a late-night news conference, Mayor Lyda Krewson noted that “the vast majority of protesters are non-violent,” and blamed the trouble on “a group of agitators.”

Acting police commissioner Lawrence O’Toole struck a hard stance, saying: “We’re in control, this is our city and we’re going to protect it.”

The protests in St Louis followed the acquittal on Friday of former police officer Jason Stockley, 36, of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.

Police reported confiscating weapons including handguns and recovered plastic spray bottles containing an unknown chemical that hit officers, who were then decontaminated.

 

“This is no longer a peaceful protest,” St. Louis police said on Twitter earlier.

Protesters broke large ceramic flowerpots and threw chunks of the ceramic at storefront windows.

Shopkeepers clean up shattered glass during the second night of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri on Sept. 16, 2017. (REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant)
Shopkeepers clean up shattered glass during the second night of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri on Sept. 16, 2017. (REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant)

Sunday’s gathering was the largest of the three nights with more 1,000 protesters.

Earlier in the evening a handful of demonstrators threw bottles in response to a police officer making arrests.

As people converged on an unmarked police car holding one suspect, an officer drove through the crowd in reverse to escape, police said. No injuries were reported.

The protests began on Friday shortly after the acquittal on Friday, when 33 people were arrested and 10 officers injured.

Violence flared anew on Saturday night when about 100 protesters, some holding bats or hammers, shattered windows and skirmished with police in riot gear, resulting in at least nine arrests. Sunday’s arrests again followed earlier peaceful, and far larger, protests.

 

By Valerie Volcovici and Kenny Bahr