St. Louis police made several arrests and one officer was injured Sunday night after an afternoon of nonviolent protest over the acquittal of a white former police officer charged in the shooting death of a black man gave way to broken windows and a police response of several hundred officers in full riot gear.
Following the same pattern as the previous two days, Sunday’s protests began as marches of hundreds of people chanting in opposition to the not-guilty verdict released Friday. But after organizers declared the demonstration a success and urged participants to head home, several dozen remained and grew increasingly agitated as the evening wore on.
By the time buses carrying hundreds of officers arrived, windows were broken at several businesses, plants were pulled from decorative downtown planters and police said they were sprayed with an unknown chemical.
At least seven people were taken into custody.
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Heading into a third night of protests, organizers said they were frustrated that a few people who have caused trouble at night could make it harder to spread their nonviolent message.
Missouri state Rep. Bruce Franks, who has participated in the protests, said those who are violent and vandalizing “are not protesters,” but a group separate from those marching in organized demonstrations.
Sunday protest began at police headquarters
Sunday’s crowd began peacefully protesting in the afternoon as demonstrators gathered in front of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department headquarters in downtown St. Louis at about 3 p.m.
They chanted “hey ho, hey ho, these racist cops have got to go” and “black lives matter,” while also staging a die-in, in which participants lie down on the ground as if dead to protest police violence.
There was also a six-minute silence in remembrance of Smith, who was killed nearly six years ago.
At about 5 p.m., protesters began marching west on Olive Street toward the main campus of Saint Louis University, continuing to chant along the way. Protesters gathered on Grand Boulevard and Laclede Avenue, while police blocked off the streets, monitoring the situation without intervening.
SLU students gathered at the clock tower on the west side of campus before moving to the Busch Student Center, according to the University News.
By 6:30 p.m. protesters had marched back to the police headquarters, at which point organizers said the official protest was over.
Dozens arrested after Saturday night vandalism
Sunday’s protests followed several acts of vandalism Saturday night in the Delmar Loop in University City, Mo. After peaceful protests disbanded, remaining agitators smashed storefront windows up and down Delmar Boulevard.
SLMPD released the identities of 33 people who were arrested Saturday night. Two of those arrested were from Illinois: Jonathan Heise, 29, of Waterloo and Maheep Pannu, 30, of Troy. Both were charged with interfering.
Protests are expected to continue Monday morning.
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