Dozens arrested as St. Louis readies for more protests

Hundreds of police officers in full riot gear responded to the streets of downtown St. Louis after another day of peaceful protests over an ex-police officer’s acquittal in the death of a black man gave way to property damage and dangerous encounters with officers.

Police made dozens of arrests shortly before midnight when people ignored orders to disperse.

More protests were expected starting Monday morning, with demonstrators planning to gather downtown.

A judge ruled Friday that Jason Stockley, a 36-year-old who left the department and moved to Houston three years ago, was not guilty in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith. The ruling set off raucous protests throughout the weekend.

Hundreds of people marched through downtown streets, the posh Central West End, and the trendy Delmar Loop area of nearby University City. Protesters also marched through two shopping malls in a wealthy area of St. Louis County.

Sunday’s protest began at the police headquarters downtown. Following the same pattern of the previous days, well over 1,000 people marched peacefully for several hours. By nightfall, most had gone home. The 100 or so demonstrators who remained grew increasingly agitated as they marched toward the core of downtown. Along the way, they knocked over planters, broke windows at a few shops and hotels, and scattered plastic chairs at an outdoor venue.

According to police, the demonstrators then sprayed bottles with an unknown substance on officers.

One officer suffered a leg injury and was taken to a hospital. His condition wasn’t known.

Soon after, buses brought in additional officers in riot gear, and police continued to search downtown deep into the night, making arrests shortly before midnight when people ignored orders to disperse.

Later, officers in riot gear gathered alongside a city boulevard chanting “whose street, our street,” a common refrain used by the protesters, after successfully clearing the street of demonstrators and onlookers.

Protest organizers said they were frustrated that a few people who have caused trouble at night could make it harder to spread their nonviolent message.

State Rep. Bruce Franks, a Democrat who has participated in the peaceful protests, said those who are violent “are not protesters,” but a group separate from those marching in organized demonstrations.

Others, though, said they understood why some act out. Protest organizer Anthony Bell said that while he believes change is made through…

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