St. Louis Outlet Mall was the site of Friday night’s planned protests, but after the mall closed early, protesters marched on St. Charles’ historic Main Street.
The mall formerly known as St. Louis Mills has only a few tenants remaining, including Cabela’s and an 18-screen theater. The mall announced earlier Friday that it would close at 5 p.m. after social media posts indicated it would be the site of Friday night’s protests. Individual stores with exterior entrances could choose to stay open later, but Cabela’s, Burlington Coat Factory and the movie theater all indicated they would close as well.
Later in the evening, social media discussion indicated protesters were marching down the historic brick-lined Main Street in St. Charles, chanting and carrying signs.
On Friday afternoon, St. Louis city alderman unanimously passed a resolution honoring Anthony Lamar Smith, the man who former police officer Jason Stockley shot in 2011. Stockley was tried for murder this summer in a bench trial, and last Friday a St. Louis judge issued a not-guilty verdict, sparking several days of protests.
The resolution focuses on Smith’s life, his childhood and desire to become an artist. It does not mention the exact circumstances of his encounter with Stockley or his death. “Regrettably Anthony Lamar Smith lost his life on December 20, 2011. His death has sparked a universal cry for justice and accountability throughout the city of St. Louis,” it reads. A copy was presented to Smith’s mother.
The St. Louis Police Officers Association denounced the statement, and a union leader said he believes police officers are “outgunned” and advocated more weaponry for police.
St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson has pledged to investigate police conduct during the protests last weekend, and to strengthen the city’s Civilian Oversight Board. The ACLU of Missouri announced Friday morning that it intends to sue the city over police tactics during the protests, which it declared to be unconstitutional. Specifically, the suit focuses on police use of chemical weapons, interfering with video of police activity, and violating due process during the “kettling” maneuver on Sunday night.
“While long shifts and being the subject of the protest is understandably challenging for police, that is no excuse for violating the Constitution,” said Tony Rothert, legal director of the Missouri ACLU.
On Thursday night, protesters blocked roads near the St. Louis Galleria and at Busch Stadium before the Billy Joel concert. No violence, vandalism or arrests were reported.
Meanwhile, St. Louis Post-Dispatch photographer Robert Cohen reported that a small demonstration of open-carry advocates were visited by a man wearing a shirt reading “Black Guns Matter.”