Protests over St Louis police shooting turn violent for third day

Chicago (AFP) – Protesters hurled debris at police in St Louis, Missouri Sunday and smashed store windows as demonstrations over the acquittal of a former police officer in the shooting death of a black man turned violent for a third straight day.

“Agitators are breaking multiple windows at Olive & 10th. Officers are heading to scene,” said on its Twitter account.

Hundreds of protesters earlier staged a “die in” outside a police headquarters and marched through St Louis before returning to the headquarters building.

Peaceful demonstrations had turned violent on the two previous nights, with the city on edge since Friday’s acquittal of white former police officer Jason Stockley.

The case — the latest high-profile incident of police using violence against a black suspect — has touched a nerve in St Louis, where racial tensions were heightened by the 2014 killing of a black man, Michael Brown, in the suburb of Ferguson by a white police officer.

Rock giants U2 and pop star Ed Sheeran called off scheduled weekend concerts in St. Louis, saying police had advised them that security could not be assured.

The first sign of violence after Sunday’s peaceful protest was a police tweet that a group was “throwing debris” at officers following a traffic stop near the police headquarters.

“If group cannot be peaceful they will be ordered to leave,” the tweet said.

St Louis Post-Dispatch reporters on the scene reported soon after that vandals were breaking store windows, targeting small businesses and a restaurant.

“Protest is a mess now. People running everywhere, bike cops in pursuit,” tweeted Mike Faulk, a Post-Dispatch journalist on the scene.

At least 35 people have been arrested since Friday, and 11 police officers were reported to have been injured in the clashes with stone-throwing protesters.

Store windows were smashed by vandals during the worst of the violence on Friday night.

– 2011 shooting –

Stockley shot to death Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man, in 2011 after a car chase that followed an attempt to arrest Smith for a suspected drug deal.

Stockley maintained he shot Smith in self-defense, but he was caught on an in-car camera video telling his partner, Brian Bianchi, “Going to kill this (expletive), don’t you know it.”

Prosecutors brought first degree murder charges in 2016, alleging that Stockley’s comments showed premeditation and that he had planted a silver revolver in Smith’s car.

But Judge Timothy Wilson acquitted Stockley, finding that the evidence on the gun,…

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