St. Louis mayor’s house surrounded, officers injured during protests

Protesters prepare to throw back tear gas canisters during their march in the streets of St. Louis, hours after the announcement of a non-guilty verdict of a former white St. Louis policeman in the 2011 shooting of a black man, in St. Louis on September 15, 2017. Jason Stockley was acquitted of first degree murder charges in the fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith on Dec. 11, 2011 following a high-speed chase. Over 30 people were arrested by police. Photo by Lawrence Bryant/UPI

Sept. 16 (UPI) — More than 30 people were arrested and nine officers were injured, one seriously, during protests Friday in St. Louis after former police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of murder charges stemming from the shooting death of a black motorist in 2011.

About 1,000 protesters surrounded the house of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson and smaller groups of protesters clashed with police in other parts of the city, though officials said much of the protesting was peaceful.

In some cases, mace, tear gas and pepper balls were used to disburse crowds, including at a St. Louis public library and several locations around downtown St. Louis.

In his first interview since the acquittal, Stockley told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch it felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders, saying that though he understood the video of the shooting looks bad, he did nothing wrong.

“I can feel for and I understand what the family is going through, and I know everyone wants someone to blame, but I’m just not the guy,” Stockley said.

The protests started Friday afternoon after Stockley’s acquittal was announced, with protesters filling streets, stopping traffic on highways and shouting at police.

Police said 32 protesters were arrested over the course of the night, and nine officers were injured, including one with a dislocated shoulder and one with a broken jaw. Although no charges have been filed against the protesters, a police spokesperson said they would be forthcoming.

“Many of the demonstrators were peaceful,” said St. Louis Police Chief Lawrence O’Tool. “However, after dark many agitators began to destroy property and assault police officers.”

About 1,000 protesters were estimated to have surrounded Krewson’s home, though it is unknown if she was home, and were later broken up by about 200 police officers responding to the scene. The protesters threw paint at the house and broke at least two windows.

With protests expected to continue today, the city has continued to brace itself for unrest. The police department has gone so far as to warn the band U2 it would be unable to provide security for the band’s concert there, causing it to be canceled.

“We have been informed by the St. Louis Police Department that they are not in a position to provide the standard protection for our audience as would be expected for an event of this size,” the band said in a statement.

“We have also been informed that local crowd security personnel would not be at full capacity. In light of this information, we cannot in good conscience risk our fans’ safety by proceeding with tonight’s concert. As much as we regret having to cancel, we feel it is the only acceptable course of action in the current environment.”


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