ST. LOUIS — Hundreds of people protesting the acquittal of a white former St. Louis police officer in themarched for hours in mostly peaceful demonstrations, until a broken window at the mayor’s home and escalating tensions led riot police to lob tear gas to disperse the crowds.
For weeks, activists had been threatening civil disobedience ifwere not convicted of murder for killing Anthony Lamar Smith, prompting authorities to take precautions. With the large protests that followed the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson still fresh in everyone’s minds, barricades were erected around police headquarters and the courthouse, among other sites, in anticipation of the verdict.
“I’m very upset. This is like a repeat of my situation, you know,” Michael Brown Sr., the late teen’s father, told CBS affiliate KMOV-TV on Friday. “So I can understand how the family actually feels, you know. All I can do is just be here and support the family. I’m reliving right now what this family is going through.”
He added, “All I have to say is that I pray for my city.”
Within hours of St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson acquitting Stockley of first-degree murder, a racially diverse crowd of protesters took to the streets — some legally carrying weapons and others toting children and waving posters.
More than 20 arrests were made by early evening, and some protesters were pepper-sprayed during confrontations with authorities. St. Louis police reported that 10 officers had suffered injuries by the end of the night, including a broken jaw and dislocated shoulder, and some journalists reported being threatened by protesters.
Activists said they would meet again Saturday to plan further demonstrations. The band U2 canceled its Saturday night concert in St. Louis because the police department said it wouldn’t be able to provide its standard protection for the event, organizers said.
The 2011 confrontation began when Stockley and his partner tried to arrest Smith for a suspected drug deal in a fast-food restaurant. Smith sped off, leading to a chase that ended when he crashed.
At the trial, Stockley testified that he saw the 24-year-old Smith holding a silver revolver as he…