Clayton, MO (AP) — St. Louis County police say they broke up a demonstration near an upscale mall because protesters weren’t listening to instructions and tried to evade two lines of officers blocking the on-ramp to a highway.
Department spokesman Sgt. Shawn McGuire says protesters walked by a line of uniformed officers blocking the entrance to Highway 40, then attempted to get past another line of officers in riot gear nearer the roadway. That caused the department to call for backup.
The protesters broke into groups, with some milling around near the highway entrance, some in the mall parking lot and others on a nearby street. McGuire says officers were concerned that with the protesters so spread out, police could have trouble blocking traffic and otherwise ensuring the safety of demonstrators and others.
Police asked the protesters to get out of the streets. In response, many of the protesters went to the mall parking lot. Then, mall management said they didn’t want the demonstrators on their property. McGuire says because it’s private property, the police were obligated to remove the protesters and they were given an order to disperse.
McGuire says there were no reports of violence or vandalism or arrests.
St. Louis County police ordered protesters to leave an area near an upscale suburban shopping mall, saying anyone who didn’t disperse could be arrested.
Protest organizers urged the demonstrators to leave and most complied. Police announced that the demonstration Wednesday evening had become an unlawful assembly.
Marching, chanting protesters near the St. Louis Galleria blocked an intersection to impede motorists from reaching the mall, then briefly moved toward an interstate on-ramp. But police blocked the entrance and pushed the protesters back.
Similar demonstrations had been allowed in the city of St. Louis and suburban University City.
Wednesday was the fifth day of protests since last week’s acquittal of white former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley for the fatal shooting of 24-year-old black drug suspect Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.
The protests have been largely nonviolent, but there was vandalism over the weekend after peaceful organized demonstrations ended.
In St. Louis and University City, crowds were ordered to disperse after vandalism or violence. There was no apparent vandalism or violence Wednesday evening.
Marching, chanting protesters near an upscale suburban mall outside St. Louis briefly moved toward an interstate on-ramp, but police blocked the entrance and pushed the demonstrators back.
Wednesday marks the fifth day of protests since last week’s acquittal of white former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley for the fatal shooting of 24-year-old black drug suspect Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.
A couple hundred protesters gathered near the St. Louis Galleria in Richmond Heights and blocked traffic. The protesters say their strategy includes disrupting business and causing discomfort to parts of the community that might not otherwise feel affected by the verdict.
The marchers’ chants included “no justice, no profits,” ”Whose streets? Our streets!” and “indict, convict, send those killer cops to jail.”
Protesters trying to bring attention to the not-guilty verdict issued last week in the trial of a white former St. Louis police officer charged in the shooting death of a black suspect have blocked an intersection to impede motorists from reaching an upscale suburban mall.
The demonstration had been announced for Shaw Park in the suburb of Clayton, and about 100 people gathered there. But they quickly left and a group formed at the St. Louis Galleria in nearby Richmond Heights.
Clayton had been preparing for the protests. St. Louis Public Radio reports the county offices and rec center closed early and evening court was called off. Some businesses posted signs saying they were closing early.
Protesters say their strategy includes disrupting business and causing discomfort to parts of the community that might not otherwise feel affected by the verdict.
Officials with the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association say vandals broke windows and spray-painted graffiti at the union’s headquarters.
The vandals also damaged a private security vehicle between late Monday and early Tuesday.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports union leaders responded with a message on plywood covering the broken windows: “We’re open, We won’t be defeated.”
The vandalism comes after days of protests following the acquittal of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.
Union business manager Jeff Roorda says the organization interpreted some of the graffiti left behind as threatening Stockley’s safety. He says stories about the union collecting food and water for officers preceded that vandalism.
Roorda says the vandals have “declared war on the police,” noting 32 officers were injured in the protests.
Police in Wisconsin are trying to find whoever spray-painted a message on the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Memorial calling for justice for a black man killed by a white former St. Louis police officer.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice issued a news release Wednesday saying someone spray-painted “#Justice4Anthony Smith” on the memorial outside the state Capitol on Saturday.
Jason Stockley shot and killed Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011. A judge acquitted Stockley of first-degree murder on Friday, prompting protests.
The Wisconsin Capitol Police are investigating the graffiti. Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel called the perpetrator a “coward” in the Department of Justice news release.
The memorial lists the names of 273 police officers killed in the line of duty.
St. Louis police say they’re investigating whether an officer responded to a protester’s Facebook post with a meme equating the Black Lives Matter movement with domestic terrorism.
City resident Lisa Clancy said Wednesday she reported the meme to police after it was posted in response to her reflections about participating in a Friday night protest in the Central West End district.
Protests have followed last week’s acquittal of white former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley for the fatal shooting of 24-year-old black drug suspect Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.
Clancy said her Facebook posting prompted “hateful” responses Saturday including the anti-Black Lives Matter meme. She said a Google search suggested the poster could be a police officer.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said during a news conference Tuesday that she disagreed with the meme’s message.
This update has been corrected to show that Clancy’s comments were made on Wednesday, not Tuesday.
Another demonstration is expected in suburban St. Louis to protest a judge’s acquittal of a white former police officer who fatally shot a black suspect.
Protesters say they will take to the streets again Wednesday to dispute the ruling Friday that found Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 fatal shooting of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.
Demonstrations since Friday have targeted affluent areas in and around St. Louis and places known to be economic drivers. Organizers say the goal is to draw attention to their cause by disrupting business. There were no protests Tuesday.
The protests have been largely nonviolent, but there was some vandalism over the weekend after peaceful organized protests ended.