Demonstrators disrupted shopping at upscale suburban malls Saturday and later marched through a popular district of bars and restaurants to protest a white St. Louis police officer’s acquittal in the killing of a black man, but the second day of protests was peaceful following sporadic vandalism and violence a night earlier.
A few hundred people shouted slogans such as “black lives matter” and “it is our duty to fight for our freedom” as they marched through West County Center mall in Des Peres to decry the judge’s verdict Friday clearing ex-officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the December 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith.
A short time later, a group demonstrated at Chesterfield Mall and a regional food festival. No arrests were reported at any of the demonstrations.
Protesters move to the Delmar Loop
As dusk neared, hundreds of protesters gathered in the Delmar Loop in University City. Demonstrators chanted “the whole damn system is guilty as hell,” and “no justice, no peace” as they marched.
The protests followed raucous Friday marches in downtown St. Louis during the day and through Central West End at night. Protesters wanted the entire region, not just predominantly black areas, to be upset with the verdict and feel its impact.
“I don’t think racism is going to change in America until people get uncomfortable,” said Kayla Reed of the St. Louis Action Council, a protest organizer.
Susanna Prins, 27, a white woman from University City, carried a sign reading, “White silence is violence.”
“Not saying or doing anything makes you complicit in the brutalization of our friends and neighbors,” Prins said.
Smith’s death is just one of several high-profile U.S. cases in recent years in which a white officer killed a black suspect, including the 2014 killing of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson that sparked months of angry and sometimes violent protests.
Federal prosecutors said Saturday they won’t open a new civil rights investigation into the killing, as the NAACP requested. Justice Department spokeswoman Lauren Ehrsam said the department concluded in September not to prosecute, but didn’t announce it then to avoid affecting the state criminal case.
Concerts canceled amid security concerns
Irish rock band U2 canceled its concert scheduled for Saturday night at The Dome at America’s Center in downtown St. Louis amid reports that the venue could become a target of protesters.
“We have been informed by the St. Louis Police Department that they are not in a position to provide the standard protection for our audience as would be expected for an event of this size,” the band and concert promoter Live Nation said in a statement. “We have also been informed that local crowd security personnel would not be at full capacity.
“We cannot in good conscience risk our fans’ safety by proceeding with tonight’s concert. As much as we regret having to cancel, we feel it is the only acceptable course of action in the current environment.”
According to the statement, fans who bought tickets through Ticketmaster will be automatically issued a refund on the credit card used to purchase tickets. Refunds for in-person ticket purchases will be issued beginning 10 a.m. Monday at the point of purchase.
The band also posted the following photo and message on Instagram:
Also canceled were the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra’s performance of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets — In Concert,” originally scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday, and Ed Sheeran’s concert at Scottrade Center, originally scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Sunday.
Security concerns were cited as the reason for cancellation in both cases.
Messina Touring Group, which is handling Sheeran’s tour, said it hopes to return to St. Louis “as soon as Ed’s schedule will allow in 2018.”
Fans who bought tickets through Ticketmaster will receive an automatic refund on the credit card used to purchase tickets, according to Scottrade Center’s website. Refunds for fans who purchased tickets at Scottrade Center’s box office will be issued in person beginning 10 a.m. Monday.
The SLSO said it would work to reschedule the Saturday night performance for later in the season and asked people to hold onto their tickets. The group’s Friday night performance was also canceled as a result of the protests.