More than 80 arrested as riot police break up St. Louis protest over officer’s acquittal

Police detain protesters arrested for causing damage to local businesses during the second night of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 16, 2017.

By Valerie Volcovici and Kenny Bahr

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – More than 80 people were arrested on Sunday night as protests in St Louis over the acquittal of a white policeman who had shot a black man turned violent for a third night running.

Police in riot gear used pepper spray and arrested the demonstrators who had defied orders to disperse following a larger, peaceful protest.

After nightfall, a small group remained and the scene turned to one of disorder, following the pattern of Friday and Saturday. Protesters smashed windows and attempted to block a ramp to an interstate highway, police and witnesses said.

Officers tackled some protesters who defied police orders and used pepper spray before starting the mass arrests.

At a late-night news conference, Mayor Lyda Krewson noted that “the vast majority of protesters are non-violent,” and blamed the trouble on “a group of agitators.”

Acting police commissioner Lawrence O’Toole struck a hard stance, saying: “We’re in control, this is our city and we’re going to protect it.”

The protests in St Louis followed the acquittal on Friday of former police officer Jason Stockley, 36, of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24.

The violence evoked memories of the riots following the 2014 shooting of a black teenager by a white officer in nearby Ferguson, Missouri.

Police reported confiscating weapons including handguns and recovered plastic spray bottles containing an unknown chemical that hit officers, who were then decontaminated.

“This is no longer a peaceful protest,” St. Louis police said on Twitter earlier.

Shopkeepers clean up shattered glass during the second night of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 16, 2017.

Shopkeepers clean up shattered glass during the second night of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 16, 2017. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant

Protesters broke large ceramic flowerpots and threw chunks of the ceramic at storefront windows.

Sunday’s gathering was the largest of the three nights with more 1,000 protesters. Police in turn deployed their largest show of force, as officers in riot gear marched through the streets.

“Do they think this will make us feel safe?” said Keisha Lee of Ferguson, shaking her head.

Police ordered a group of news photographers to stand up against a wall. One, Kenny Bahr, was working on assignment for Reuters and posted the incident live on Facebook until he was placed in handcuffs when he turned off his video. The photographers were released after about 30 minutes.

Earlier in the evening a handful of demonstrators threw bottles in response to a police officer making arrests.

As people converged on an unmarked police car holding one suspect, an officer drove through the crowd in reverse to escape, police said. No injuries were reported.

The protests began on Friday shortly after the acquittal on Friday, when 33 people were arrested and 10 officers injured.

Violence flared anew on Saturday night when about 100 protesters, some holding bats or hammers, shattered windows and skirmished with police in riot gear, resulting in at least nine arrests. Sunday’s arrests again followed earlier peaceful, and far larger, protests.

Protesters participate in a "Die-In" on the third day of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, outside police headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 17, 2017.

Protesters participate in a “Die-In” on the third day of demonstrations after a not guilty verdict in the murder trial of former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, outside police headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 17, 2017. REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant

More serious clashes broke out in 2014 in Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis, following the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer who was not indicted.

The Ferguson protests gave rise to Black Lives Matter, a movement that has staged protests across the United States.

An informal group known as the Ferguson frontline has organized the protests, focusing on what it describes as institutional racism that has allowed police to be cleared of criminal wrongdoing in several shootings of unarmed black men.

“Windows can be replaced. Lives can’t,” said Missy Gunn, a member of Ferguson frontline and mother of three including a college-age son. She said she feared for him every night.

Smith was shot in his car after Stockley and his partner chased him following what authorities said was a drug deal. Prosecutors argued that Stockley planted a weapon in Smith’s car, but the judge believed the gun belonged to Smith.


(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici and Kenny Bahr in St Louis and Chris Michaud in New York; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Mary Milliken, Peter Cooney and Toby Chopra)


Police, protesters clash in St. Louis after ex-cop acquitted of murdering black man

Police, protesters clash in St. Louis after ex-cop acquitted of murdering black man

By Valerie Volcovici and Kenny Bahr

ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets during clashes with protesters in St Louis early on Saturday after a white former policeman was acquitted of murdering a black suspect.

A peaceful rally over Friday’s not guilty verdict turned violent after police confronted a small group of demonstrators – three years after the shooting of another black suspect in the nearby suburb of Ferguson stirred nationwide anger and debate.

Officers fired tear gas as people broke windows at a library and two restaurants and threw bricks and water bottles at officers. Protesters also threw rocks and paint at the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, said Acting Police Commissioner Lawrence O’Toole.

Nine city officers and a state trooper were injured and at least 23 people were taken into custody, he said.

Former city policeman Jason Stockley, 36, was found not guilty of the first-degree murder of Anthony Lamar Smith, 24, shot to death on Dec. 20, 2011.

After the ruling, around 600 protesters marched from the courthouse through downtown St. Louis, chanting “No justice, no peace” and “Hey hey! Ho ho! These killer cops have got to go!” Some held “Black Lives Matter” signs.

“I’m sad, I’m hurt, I’m mad,” Reverend Clinton Stancil of the Wayman AME Church in St. Louis said by telephone. “We haven’t made any progress since Ferguson, that’s clear. Cops can still kill us with impunity.”

Men protest outside the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department after the not guilty verdict in the murder trial of Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Whitney Curtis

Men protest outside the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department after the not guilty verdict in the murder trial of Jason Stockley, a former St. Louis police officer, charged with the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, who was black, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S., September 15, 2017. REUTERS/Whitney Curtis


Ferguson became the focal point of a national debate on race relations after white officer Darren Wilson shot dead black teenager Michael Brown on Aug. 9, 2014. Protests and clashes broke out after a grand jury cleared the officer, giving rise to the Black Lives Matter movement.

After Friday’s verdict, one group of demonstrators tried to climb onto Interstate 40 but was blocked by police. Another group blocked an intersection by sitting down in the street for six minutes of silence.

After most protesters drifted away, a smaller group of people police described as “agitators” lingered on the streets in an upscale neighborhood near the mayor’s house. The group taunted officers who arrived in riot gear by the busload.

“Reports of bricks thrown at police. That’s not protest. That’s a crime. We stand behind our officers. This violence won’t be tolerated,” Missouri Governor Eric Greitens said on Twitter.

Smith was shot five times in his car after trying to flee Stockley and his partner, following an alleged drug deal, authorities said.

Prosecutors said that during the pursuit, Stockley could be heard saying on an internal police car video he was going to kill Smith.

At Stockley’s direction, his partner, who was driving, slammed the police cruiser into Smith’s vehicle and they came to a stop. Stockley then approached Smith’s car and opened fire with his service weapon, court documents said.

The former policeman believed Smith was armed, defense attorneys said, and a gun was found in the car. But prosecutors argued Stockley planted the weapon and that the gun had only Stockley’s DNA on it.

Stockley’s attorney, Neil Bruntrager, said his client was relieved at the verdict. “It’s been a long road for him,” Bruntrager said.

St. Louis prosecutor Kimberly Gardner called on protesters to avoid violence.

“I understand the verdict has created anger and frustration for many in our community,” she told reporters at the courthouse.

Stockley waived his right to a jury trial, allowing the judge to decide. He left the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department in 2013 and was arrested last year.

Smith’s family settled a wrongful death lawsuit against the city for $900,000 in 2013, according to Al Watkins, an attorney for Smith’s fiancée, Christina Wilson.

(Additional reporting by Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee, Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago, Chris Kenning in Louisville, Kentucky and Gina Cherelus in New York; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Andrew Heavens)

Video poses new questions about 2014 Ferguson police shooting

Police line up in front of the Ferguson Market Liquor during a protest, following a release of previously undisclosed video of Michael Brown

(Reuters) – Previously undisclosed video of Michael Brown, recorded hours before the unarmed black 18-year-old was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, has raised new questions about his final hours.

The footage shows Brown – whose death in 2014 prompted national protests and kindled a debate about how U.S. police treat minorities – at a convenience store the night before he was killed. It was unearthed by a documentary filmmaker, according to the New York Times.

Shortly after Brown’s death, local police released video of a later visit to the same store, Ferguson Market and Liquor, which showed Brown pushing a worker before walking out with cigarillos in an apparent robbery.

Brown’s family and protesters criticized the release of the video as an effort to demonize the teenager.

Witnesses have given conflicting accounts of his deadly encounter a short time later by police officer Darren Wilson. Local and federal investigations cleared Wilson of criminal wrongdoing.

The new video, which appears in the documentary “Stranger Fruit,” an extract of which was published by the Times, shows Brown in an earlier, seemingly more amicable exchange.

The video shows Brown giving store employees what appears to be a small bag, the contents of which the employees pass around and sniff. One employee gives Brown two boxes of cigarillos in a carrier bag.

Brown takes a few steps away before turning back and handing the bag back to an employee who appears to stash it behind the counter.

Jason Pollock, the documentary filmmaker, said the video shows Brown exchanging marijuana for cigarillos and undermines the police account that Brown may have robbed the store.

“Mike traded the store a little bag of weed and got two boxes of cigarillos in return,” Pollock says in the documentary. “He left his items at the store and he went back the next day to pick them up. Mike did not rob the store.”

Brown’s mother, Lesley McSpadden, also appears in the documentary, saying, “There was some type of exchange, for one thing, for another.”

Jay Kanzler, a lawyer for the convenience store, was quoted by the Times as disputing the filmmaker’s explanation, saying the store did not exchange anything with Brown.

“The reason he gave it back is he was walking out the door with unpaid merchandise and they wanted it back,” Kanzler was quoted as saying.

Kanzler did not respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

U.S. police body camera policies put civil rights at risk: study

By Gina Cherelus

(Reuters) – Police forces in 50 U.S. cities are failing to protect the civil rights and privacy of residents due to the inadequacy of programs that govern how their officers use body-worn cameras, a report by a coalition of rights groups said on Tuesday.

Many U.S. cities have approved or expanded the use of body cameras since August 2014, when a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. That incident triggered protests and a national debate about police use of force, especially against minorities.

The study was conducted for The Leadership Conference of Civil and Human Rights coalition by Upturn, a Washington DC-based company that studies how technology affects social issues.

“Body cameras carry the promise of officer accountability, but accountability is far from automatic,” Harlan Yu, principal of Upturn, said on a conference call with reporters.

The study focused on the nation’s largest police departments that have body-worn camera programs, as well as programs that have received federal funding, and those in cities that have had high-profile incidents involving law enforcement officers.

It judged them against eight criteria, including whether each department publishes its body camera policy, to what degree officers are allowed discretion about when they turn on and off their cameras, and whether officers involved in incidents are prohibited from watching the footage before they write reports.

The study found that none of the departments it analyzed met all the criteria, and that the police departments in Ferguson and in Fresno, California, failed all of them. Nearly half did not make body camera footage easily accessible to the public. (Link to the report:

Three major departments with programs – Detroit, Michigan, Aurora, Colorado, and Pittsburg, Pennsylvania – have not made their body camera policies public, the study said.

Representatives of the police departments in Aurora, Detroit, Pittsburg and Ferguson did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The coalition released an initial report in November 2015 that studied body camera programs from 25 departments.

The group said some issues have improved since that report, noting several departments, including Chicago, Washington D.C. and Cincinnati now provide individuals who are recorded the opportunity to view the footage.

“Without carefully crafted policy safeguards, these devices could become instruments of injustice rather than tools of accountability,” Wade Henderson, the coalition’s president and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

(Reporting by Gina Cherelus; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Dan Grebler)

Gunman Opens Fire at Ferguson Protest

A gunman hidden within a group of black protesters shot at St. Louis County police officers on Sunday night following a protest about the death of Michael Brown one year ago.

One of the protesters was shot by police after he fired a remarkable amount of gunfireusing a stolen handgun according to St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar.  

“We cannot continue, we cannot talk about the good things that we have been talking about, if we are prevented from moving forward with this kind of violence,” he said.

Belmar insisted the people conducting the violence were not protesters.

They were criminals; they werent protesters,Chief Belmar said of the groups exchanging gunfire. Protesters are the people out there talking about a way to effect change. We cant afford to have this kind of violence, not only on a night like this, but any point in time if were going to move forward in the right direction.

The gunfire began as Fergusons acting police chief, Andre Anderson, was speaking to reporters.  The gunman fired at police who pursued him following the initial volley of shots.

The weekends events were peaceful and promoted a message of reconciliation and healing,Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said in a statement. But incidents of violence, such as we saw last night, are contrary to both that message, along with everything that all of us, including this group, have worked to achieve over the past year.

Violent Protests Break Out Again In Ferguson

While most of the nation was focused on the unrest in Baltimore, the riots in Ferguson began again.

Police say three people were shot, over 100 shots were fired and multiple small fires were set last night as people protested against the Freddie Gray incident.

Acting Police Chief Al Eickhoff told reporters that two of the people shot were hit in the neck and the third hit in the leg.  A 20-year-old man is under arrest for one of the shooting incidents and five others were arrested on charges ranging from burglary to brandishing a weapon.

“This community is trying to move forward and there are people who are just set on violence,” Eickhoff said. “(The people who committed crimes) were not protesters, they were just a criminal element set on undoing all that this community has done to move forward.”

“We’ve got a certain amount of a criminal element that do not want to see the community move forward. We’ve got a completely new face on the city council and we’re changing things. I’m not sure if they’re just resisting it or what. The three shooting victims we had were rioters, and while we’re trying to take care of the victims, they’re intent on damaging the policemen who are trying to help the rioters that have been shot.”

In a scene reminiscent of the earlier Ferguson riots, a convenience store was looted by a mob. At least two dozen people ransacked the store just after 1:30 a.m. taking liquor, cigarettes, candy, lottery tickets and about $80 from a cash drawer.

The store was a block away from where the gunshot victims were hit.

Police were on the streets to stop rioters until 3:30 a.m. according to Eickhoff.

Social Media Shows Link Between Ferguson & Baltimore Violence

Fox News discovered a report that shows a link between the violence in Ferguson, MO and the violence that is burning Baltimore.

A government related data mining firm has found between 20 and 50 social media accounts in Baltimore that were connected to the peak of the violence and rioting in Ferguson.  The discovery suggests that “professional protesters” are taking advantage of the Baltimore situation in an attempt to cause anarchy and violence.

Fox reported that the data mining company said the locations could be spoofed, but that they can’t fully explain away the massive numbers if that would be the case.

The launching of the Monday rioting began via social media when calls were placed for a “purge” starting at the Mondawmin Mall and moving downtown.  The reference was to a movie called “The Purge” where for 12 hours there is no police or emergency response, allowing citizens to commit acts of crime and violence with immunity.

While gang members are denying they were working together to focus on white police officers, texts through social media did show accounts calling for people to “kill all white police officers” in response to the death of Freddie Gray.

A 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. curfew for all Baltimore citizens goes into effect tonight and will last for one week.

Ferguson Protesters Shoot Two Police Officers

Two police officers were shot early Thursday morning outside the Ferguson, Missouri police department.

Police described the attack as “an ambush” and that either officer could have been easily killed in the attack.  One officer was hit in the face below the right eye and the other officer was hit in the shoulder.  Both are expected to recover with any long-term damage.

However, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar focused on the fact the officers could have been killed.

“We could have buried two police officers next week over this,” he said.

Belmar said the shots came from about 120 yards away and were clearly aimed at the police.

“This is really an ambush,” he said. “You are basically defenseless. It is hard to guard against.”

Witnesses say there was no warning before the attack.

“I saw the officer go down and the other police officers drew their guns while other officers dragged the injured officer away,” protester Marciay Pitchford said. “All of a sudden everybody started running or dropping to the ground.”

The crowd was protesting following the announcement that the police chief of Ferguson was resigning after a Justice Department report regarding problems within the Ferguson P.D.

Justice Department Will Not Bring Charges Against Darren Wilson

In the wake of the violent protests in St. Louis and Ferguson, Missouri over the decision by the grand jury not to charge officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, it’s reported the Justice Department will not be filing any charges against the former officer.

The prosecutors within the Justice Department did not find sufficient evidence to support any charges, including civil rights charges.

The FBI’s investigation into the incident destroyed many of the claims that Michael Brown had his hands up in surrender when he was shot by Officer Wilson.  The FBI’s investigation showed Brown was actually charging toward Officer Wilson in a manner consistent with the officer’s report of the incident.

The Justice Department plans to release a report explaining the decision but spokeswoman Dena Iverson would not tell the New York Times when that might be released to the public.

A larger investigation into the Ferguson police department remains open and active according to Justice Department officials.

NYPD Finds Arsenal After Capturing Man Who Talked Of Killing Police

A Queens, New York man was arrested after he was overheard talking about killing police.  A witness called the NYPD after hearing 38-year-old Elvin Payamps talking in a TD Bank line about having guns at his house to commit the crime.

“I’m going to kill another cop. We should do it before Christmas. The cop should have been white that was killed. I always have a gun on me,” the witness said Payamps told a friend on a phone call.

The witness called 911 but Payamps left before police arrived at the bank.  He was found getting into a car near the bank.  After finding marijuana in the car, he was arrested.

“They should have killed two white cops instead of the Hispanic and Asian if the guy really wanted to send a message,” Payamps allegedly told police after his arrest.

At Payamps home, officers found a 9mm pistol and a 12-gauge shotgun with serial numbers scratched off them.  He also had two bulletproof vests and a set of brass knuckles.

He is being held on $500,000 bail.

Police praised the witness for reporting the threat.  They called on all New Yorkers to take seriously anyone who talks about killing police officers in the wake of the murder of two officers by someone seeking retribution for Eric Garner and the events of Ferguson, MO.