St Louis has seen two nights of street protests following the not guilty verdict for police officer Jason Stockley for the killing of Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011.
Stockley killed Anthony Lamar Smith in 2011 but was found not guilty by a judge, having waived his right to trial by jury and citing self-defense. After shooting at Smith’s car with his personal AK-47 (a weapon banned by police department policy) he pursued Smith in a car chase, then shot through the car door with his service revolver. Bodycam footage then suggested that Stockley planted a gun at the scene, it was found to have only Stockley’s DNA and none of Smith’s.
People immediately took to the streets on Friday evening, in protests that have continued through Saturday day and evening. There have been multiple protests at multiple locations, so this is a partial account written around 3am on Sunday St Louis time.
Protestors marched shortly after the verdict was announced, with one elderly lady being knocked to the ground and trampled by police, she was arrested for ‘interference’ and handcuffed.
Police attacked protesters with tear gas and shot rubber bullets, as was seen in the Ferguson protests of 2014.
On Saturday there was a shift from street protests to economic disruption via blockades. Several hundred people participated in flash protests at two St Louis malls.
In both cases police arrived to shut the mall down, and the protesters moved on to the next location. These protests are interesting because they cause immediate economic disruption, make any potential police violence highly visible to staff and shoppers, and in Chesterfield allowed protestors to directly communicate with bystanders as they took over a podium and mic to address shoppers.
Meanwhile STL Today reported that concerts by U2 on Saturday and Ed Sheeran on Sunday had both been cancelled due to ‘safety concerns’. While the only real safety concern in STL is the continued violence by police departments against its residents this shows that street protests themselves can cause economic disruption too. It is only when business as usual is disrupted that concessions can be won.
The cycle of protests against police killings from Ferguson for Mike Brown in August 2014, New York for Eric Garner in 2015, Baltimore for Freddie Gray in April 2015, Twin Cities for Philando Castille and Baton Rouge for Alton Sterling in July 2016 with many flashpoints in between has returned to St Louis.
Many have argued that the street movement against police killings has already been co-opted into the Democratic Party apparatus, but this analysis relies on following only the self-appointed leaders on social media while ignoring local activists who haven’t become celebrities. While the conditions that created the uprising in Ferguson persist, with over 1,000 police killings in the US every year, and the Democrats having neither interest nor capability to resolve this there is still the potential for a mass movement against police.
Photo credit: @Rebelutionary_Z
Edited for mb3-org.com