ST. LOUIS – Protests near St. Louis turned violent for the second night Saturday in reaction to the acquittal of a white former police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man, as a small group of demonstrators refused to disperse, breaking windows at dozens of businesses and throwing objects at police, who moved in with hundreds of officers in riot gear to make arrests.
The confrontation took place in the Delmar Loop area of University City, a suburb about 10 miles (16 kilometers) west of St. Louis near Washington University. The area is known for concert venues, restaurants, shops and bars and includes the Blueberry Hill club where rock legend Chuck Berry played for many years.
University City had been the scene of a tense but calm march earlier in the evening to protest a judge’s ruling Friday clearing ex-officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. That march ended with organizers calling for people to leave and reconvene Sunday afternoon.
But a few dozen protesters refused to go. Police ordered them to disperse, saying the protest was unlawful. Hundreds of police in riot gear eventually moved in with armored vehicles. The demonstrators retreated down a street, breaking windows with trash cans and throwing objects at police.
Several protesters were seen in handcuffs and city and county police tweeted that they arrested nine people. Police in riot gear were seen carrying one man away from the scene upside down in handcuffs. At least one demonstrator was treated after he was hit with pepper spray.
After the spasm of violence ended, a reporter for The Associated Press found at least half of the businesses on one side of the street with broken windows along a two block area.
Sam Thomas, who was helping his friend clean up the glass from the…