St. Louis is not having it. For the second night in a row, protesters took to the streets in righteous anger over yet another acquittal of a police officer charged with first-degree murder in the death of yet another African American.
A total of 11 law-enforcement officers were injured in protests, according to St. Louis Metro Police Department Chief Lawrence O’Toole.
On both nights, the people spilled into the streets, some getting buck by destroying windows of retail shops and throwing rocks at the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.
Protests began Friday after a court decision to acquit former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley, who is white, in the December 2011 shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith, who was not.
As The Root’s Michael Harriot notes, the facts of the case are especially galling because the officer said he was going to kill Smith, did so on video, and by all accounts allegedly covered up the murder and got away with it (a gun allegedly attributed to Smith was never seen by any witnesses, and only the officer’s DNA was on the firearm recovered). He writes:
There was an injustice in St. Louis today. After hearing how St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley said he was going to kill Anthony Lamar Smith, chased him down and shot him at point-blank range even though Smith was not holding a weapon, Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson pronounced Stockley not guilty and slandered Smith in the process, reasoning that Smith was a dope boy and saying that an “urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly.”
On Saturday, protesters targeted retail stores as well as roads—ensuring that there would be no business as usual this weekend. They marched through West County Center Mall in Des Peres, Mo., chanting, “No justice, no profits,” for about an hour; they also marched through Chesterfield Mall near St. Louis.
U2 and Ed Sheeran canceled separate concerts Saturday night in St. Louis, saying that police could not provide enough officers as a security detail for the concert. NPR reports that the St. Louis Symphony also canceled Friday and Saturday performances of Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets—in Concert, also citing safety concerns.
On Friday, Smith’s mother went to the site of the deadly shooting.
“[My son] wasn’t wrong. I felt like the verdict was wrong,” Annie Smith told CNN affiliate KTVI-TV. “The judge made the wrong decision. ... Justice wasn’t served. I [didn’t] get ... justice. I could never be at peace.”
For those who say protests are useless, it should be noted that state and federal authorities did not initially prosecute Stockley, but in the aftermath of the Ferguson, Mo., protests following the police killing of unarmed teen Michael Brown, then-St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce charged Stockley with first-degree murder in May 2016, citing new evidence.
Of course, a trial does not mean conviction.
As per usual, the police get off and taxpayers get to foot the bill for their homicidal negligence: in 2013 the St. Louis police board settled a wrongful death suit with Smith’s survivors for $900,000.