Violent rioters in St. Louis were looking to cause as much chaos and mayhem as possible when they threw bricks, rocks and other objects at police.
Law enforcement wasn’t having it and arrested over 80 people, according to Independent Journal Review. Witnesses of the riots say St. Louis police officers were there to send a message, chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!”
According to St. Louis Post, the violence lasted three nights as peaceful protests during the day made way for violent thugs at night. The protests were in response to the acquittal of former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley who was charged with the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith, a drug suspect.
Stockley says after a car chase, he was forced to shoot when Smith reached for a weapon. Prosecutors claimed Stockley planted a gun in the car after murdering Smith for racist reasons. Stockley was found not guilty on Friday, which sparked the protests.
On Sunday, peaceful protesters staged a “die-in” with protesters lying on the street in front of the police station in mock death before marching through the nearby St. Louis University campus.
Many of the peaceful protesters dispersed following a statement by one of the organizers, Pastor Doug Hollis, who said the protests achieved its purpose. “We met our goal. We are dispersing. This was a great, peaceful protest. That’s what we want,” Hollis said.
Despite the call for dispersal from leaders, many stayed behind to continue the protests. Things became heated when two arrests were made near police headquarters. The driver of a car was arrested for assault, and the passenger was arrested for terroristic threats. Upon seeing the arrests, a third individual threw rocks at police officers, and when he was placed in an unmarked police car, the crowd grew visibly angry.
According to a statement by police, the protesters weren’t happy about the arrest. “The crowd started moving in a threatening manner toward the Impala [unmarked car] and because of road closures, the car could not go forward. The officer driving the blue Impala backed down the street to safety,” police said.
As night fell, things grew tense. What was once a peaceful protest turned violent as rioters began throwing bricks, rocks, and bottles filled with unknown liquids at officers. Reports noted that rioters were also smashing windows of nearby businesses, knocking over concrete planters, and tossing trash cans.
Mayor Lyda Krewson said in a press conference that the violence wasn’t to be tolerated: “For the third day in a row, the days have been calm and the nights have been destructive. This is unacceptable. Destruction cannot be tolerated.”
Fortunately, the St. Louis police were prepared and willing to put a stop to the violence. Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole stated, “I’m proud to tell you the city of St. Louis is safe, and the police owned tonight.”
Reporters and other witnesses say the police did indeed own the night, chanting at protesters and making arrests whenever they were attacked.
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O’Toole said while some of the officers were injured by rocks and other objects, the injuries were minor, and police controlled the situation. “We’re in control. This is our city, and we’re going to protect it.”
The no-nonsense attitude by St. Louis police should set the example for other police departments that encounter riots and violence by protesters. These men and women in blue should not have to tolerate the threat of violence against them and are owed a great deal for putting their lives on the line to keep the streets safe.
These officers showed us that the streets do not belong to violent criminals, but to the people.