St. Louis protest turns violent after earlier peaceful march over police acquittal

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ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, UNITED STATES (SEPTEMBER 16, 2017) (NBC) – Clashes between demonstrators and riot-clad police marred the end of what had been a largely peaceful second day of protest rallies in St. Louis following the acquittal of a white police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man.

Several hundred people gathered near Washington University after dark as the main rallies and marches wound down on Saturday (September 16) evening. As the night wore on violence broke out between some of roughly 100 remaining protesters, some holding bats or hammers, and riot-clad police who ordered them to disperse. Shop and restaurant windows were smashed, including at businesses crowded with patrons, and demonstrators hurled trash cans at officers, who numbered about 200. Police declared the scene an unlawful assembly and threatened to deploy tear gas and arrested at least eight people.

The demonstrations began peacefully on Friday after Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson acquitted former St. Louis Police Officer Jason Stockley, 36, of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24. But as on Saturday, Friday’s protests ended in late night violence, with 33 arrests after clashes on which 10 officers were hurt.

The verdict came about three years after rioting broke out in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson when a black teenager was shot dead by a white police officer. That incident touched off nationwide soul-searching over law enforcement’s use of force against African-Americans, the mentally ill and other groups.

Smith was shot five times in his car after attempting to elude Stockley and his partner, who had chased the suspect after an alleged drug deal, authorities said. During the pursuit, Stockley could be heard saying on an internal police car video he was going to kill Smith, prosecutors said.

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