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80 Arrested, More Than 30 Injured As St. Louis Protests Enter 3rd Night

Police in St. Louis say they arrested around 80 protesters this weekend, after demonstrations turned violent Sunday night.

Activists marched all weekend, after a St. Louis judge acquitted Officer Jason Stockley of murder charges in the shooting death of a black man, 24 year old Anthony Lamar Smith, following a high speed chase in 2011.

St. Louis Police Commissioner Larry O’Toole says the violence is “contained” in a small area away from most of the protests, and that the vast majority of demonstrators were peaceful and have complied with police orders and directions. However, a handful of individuals decided, over the weekend, to ruin it for everyone, attacking cops with bricks, rocks, and “chemicals,” sending ten officers to the hospital.

Rioters threw rocks and bricks through storefront windows, damaging several downtown St. Louis businesses.

“The days have been calm, but the nights have been destructive. After the demonstrations, organizers announce that the daytime protests are over. But a group of agitators stay behind, apparently intent on breaking windows and destroying property. This is not acceptable,” mayor Linda Krewson told media in a press conference Sunday evening.

She went on to say that St. Louis city officials have heard the demonstrators and intend on making changes to city policy – but that every violent incident sets the mission further back.

Even St. Louis activists are trying to calm the violence, distancing themselves from the rioters and looters and calling on individuals causing trouble to back down. “All we want is peace,” one of the march leaders, a St. Louis pastor, said in a a video posted to YouTube Sunday. “If you can’t come here peacefully, don’t come at all.”

Officer Stockley and his partner were cleared of wrongdoing in 2011, when the pair cornered Smith after witnessing what the two officers say was a drug transaction. Stockley told police that Smith backed into his police vehicle several times before speeding away. After a high speech chase, that ended when Stockley rammed Smith’s vehicle, Stockley and Smith had a confrontation. Stockley claims Smith reached for a gun; Stockley fired, killing Smith. A weapon was found at the scene, but Smith’s DNA wasn’t on it – only Stockley’s.

St. Louis settled a wrongful death case with Smith’s family in 2013, paying out nearly a million dollars. Stockley left the St. Louis police department that same year. But in 2016, St. Louis prosecutors claimed new evidence had come to light showing Stockley had intended to kill Smith, and charged the former cop with first degree murder. After Friday’s aquittal, the city says it’s looking to appeal.

(First reported by The Daily Wire)   (September 18, 2017)

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