Peaceful protests turn violent by nightfall in St. Louis

A white police officer was acquitted in the shooting death of a black suspect, and the protests began.

What started, by day, as peaceful demonstrations, turned violent by night, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Saturday night marked the second night in a row that protests “descended into late-night violence with broken windows and thrown rocks, water bottles and garbage can lids.” One small faction of protestors “threw chunks of concrete at police,” breaking windows of several businesses. Reporters saw police arrest at least six people.

The shooting in question, from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Former St. Louis Patrolman Jason Stockley, who is white, was found not guilty of first-degree murder Friday after an August bench trial in the 2011 shooting of drug suspect Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black. Prosecutors alleged Stockley executed Smith following a car chase and then planted a gun in his car. Stockley maintained that Smith reached for the gun and that he shot Smith in self defense.

According to prosecutors, ABC reported, “Stockley planted a gun in Smith’s car after the shooting. The officer’s DNA was on the weapon but Smith’s wasn’t. Dashcam video from Stockley’s cruiser recorded him saying he was “going to kill this (expletive).” Less than a minute later, he shot Smith five times.”

Around 9:00 p.m. on Saturday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, protest organizers “had congratulated their followers on keeping their demonstrations peaceful.” More than a thousand protestors had marched through the streets, chanting “no justice, no peace” and carrying “Black Lives Matter” signs.

Protesters gather, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, in St. Louis, after a judge found a white former St. Louis police officer, Jason Stockley, not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of a black man, Anthony Lamar Smith, who was fatally shot following a high-speed chase in 2011. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

A six-minute “die-in” was held at the intersection of Skinker and Delmar boulevards, marking the six years since Anthony Lamar Smith, who was 24 years old when he died, was shot and killed by police.

Organizers told the crowds to leave that evening and return Sunday afternoon, but a small group refused to leave, ABC reported. Just two hours later, amid vandalism and violence, police officers in riot gear were on the scene.

Cory Bush, the social worker who organized the die-in, told the crowd assembled Saturday that media reports focused too heavily on the vandalism from the night before.

“None of it could’ve happened at all, had there not been a dead body, had there not been a police officer who did something absolutely horrendous,” she said. “The message is simple: stop killing us. Black folks say, stop killing us.”