Riot police deployed as protests continue in St Louis at former officer’s acquittal over death of black suspect

St. Louis police in riot gear broke up a protest that turned rowdy on Sunday night with property damage including broken storefront windows, ordering protesters to disperse and making several arrests.

Demonstrators gathered in central St. Louis for the third straight night to protest the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley, 36, of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.

As it had on Friday and Saturday nights, the protest started peacefully but turned disorderly after dark. Demonstrators broke windows and attempted to block a ramp to an interstate highway, police and witnesses said. Police also reported confiscating weapons including at least one handgun from protesters.

The violence evoked memories of the riots following the 2014 shooting of a black teenager by a white officer in nearby Ferguson, Missouri.

People run as demonstrators march in response to a not guilty verdict in the trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley Credit: Jeff Roberson/AP

Police confiscated plastic spray bottles containing an unknown chemical that was on officers, who were then decontaminated, police said.

“This is no longer a peaceful protest,” St. Louis police said on Twitter, adding that one officer was injured.

“Police continue to make arrests after property damage in Downtown #STL,” another tweet said.

Sunday’s gathering was the largest of the three nights with more 1,000 protesters. Police in turn deployed their largest show of force.

Officers in riot gear marched through the streets. Others in large vehicles ordered people to leave over a loud speaker.

“Do they think this will make us feel safe?” said Keisha Lee of Ferguson, shaking her head.

Police arrive as demonstrators march in response to a not guilty verdict in the trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley,  Credit: Jeff Roberson/AP

Police ordered a group of news photographers to stand up against a wall. One of them who posted the incident live on Facebook was placed in handcuffs when his video cut out. The photographers were released after about 30 minutes.

Earlier in the evening, a handful of demonstrators threw bottles in response to a police officer making arrests, the first indication that the protest could turn violent.

“Agitators are breaking multiple windows at Olive & 10th. Officers are heading to scene,” police tweeted.

Protesters broke large ceramic flowerpots at the entrances to several downtown buildings. A few took chunks of…

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