St. Louis protests peaceful at malls, shopping district

Noisy demonstrators disrupted shopping at upscale suburban St. Louis shopping malls and marched through a popular district of bars and restaurants Saturday in peaceful protests over the acquittal of a white St. Louis police officer who fatally shot a black man, and there was no sign of the sporadic vandalism and violence that marred the rallies a night earlier.

A few hundred people shouted slogans such as “black lives matter” and “it is our duty to fight for our freedom” as they marched through West County Center mall in Des Peres to decry the judge’s verdict Friday clearing ex-officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith.

A short time later, a group demonstrated at Chesterfield Mall and a regional food festival.

On Saturday evening, hundreds of protesters marched through the Delmar Loop of the St. Louis suburb of University City — known for concert venues, restaurants, shops and bars and including the famous Blueberry Hill where rock legend Chuck Berry played for many years. After three hours, organizers of marching, organizers asked protesters to disband Saturday evening and reconvene Sunday afternoon.

No arrests were reported at any of the events on Saturday.

The peaceful protests followed raucous Friday marches in downtown St. Louis and through the city’s posh Central West End area during the night. Protesters wanted the entire region, not just predominantly black areas, to be upset with the verdict and feel its impact.

“I don’t think racism is going to change in America until people get uncomfortable,” said Kayla Reed of the St. Louis Action Council, a protest organizer.

Susanna Prins, 27, a white woman from University City, carried a sign reading, “White silence is violence.”

“Not saying or doing anything makes you complicit in the brutalization of our friends and neighbors,” Prins said.

Smith’s death is just one of several high-profile U.S. cases in recent years in which a white officer killed a black suspect, including the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson that sparked months of angry and sometimes violent protests.

Federal prosecutors said Saturday they won’t open a new civil rights investigation into the killing, as the NAACP requested. Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam said the department concluded in September not to prosecute, but didn’t announce it then to avoid affecting the state criminal case.

Police were prepared for a second night of trouble after…

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