Jason Stockley | St. Louis Public Radio

Jason Stockley

On Sept. 15, a judge ruled that former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. 

Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Prosecutors alleged Stockley, who is white, executed Smith, a black man, after a car chase and then planted a gun in his car. Stockley maintained that Smith reached for the gun and that he shot Smith in self-defense.

The verdict immediately touched off protests in downtown St. Louis, which spread throughout the city, St. Louis County and St. Charles County in the following days.

Protesters have promised weeks of action and have made demands for changes, including the resignation of the interim St. Louis police chief and bringing in outside investigators to examine police-involved killings.

Already, three lawsuits have been filed against the city of St. Louis over allegations of excessive police use of force and violations of First Amendment rights at protests.

Find all of St. Louis Public Radio's coverage of the Stockley verdict and ongoing protests below:

Captain Perri Johnson of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department discusses cultural diversity with participants in the Ethical Society of Police pre-academy recruitment program at the Urban League on March 6, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Six months ago, the acquittal of a white police officer charged with the murder of an African-American man sparked widespread protests in St. Louis and put a spotlight on racial disparities in the police department.

About 47 percent of city residents are black, but just over 32 percent of city officers are non-white.

Recently appointed St. Louis Metropolitan Police Chief John Hayden, a 30-year veteran of the department, said it’s obvious they need to do more to increase minority recruitment. He’s now partnering with the Ethical Society of Police, a mostly African-American police association, to support their pre-academy recruitment program.

 

 


Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri Senate is considering legislation that would target protesters who block interstate highways.

The bill would make it a Class A misdemeanor to block lanes of interstate or other limited access highways, punishable by fines between $1,000 and $5,000 and up to 30 days in jail. And protesters could be held liable in civil suits filed by patients whose ambulances are delayed by blocked interstate highways.

James Fisher, a professor of marketing at Saint Louis University, said economic boycotts can be effective.  Nov. 21, 2017
Marissanne Lewis-Thompson | St. Louis Public Radio

While protests continue since the Sept. 15 verdict in the Jason Stockley case, activists have also launched an economic boycott in St. Louis. They said it’s in response to the treatment of African-Americans, who they believe are disproportionately experiencing economic and social disparities.

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2:10 p.m. Nov. 20 with comments from Chief O'Toole — The U.S. Department of Justice has agreed to investigate whether the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department violated the Constitution in the way it has handled recent protests demanding more police accountability.

Jeffrey Jensen, the federal prosecutor in St. Louis, announced the review in a brief statement Monday. It is based on a request made by Mayor Lyda Krewson and others, including U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay, D-University City.

Protesters stand together on Kingshighway Friday night as police officers in riot gear move toward them.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A common refrain among protesters who took to the streets of St. Louis in recent weeks has been “I know that we will win!”

Many are confident that the demonstrations that took place following a judge’s decision to find former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith will help win the fight to stop police from killing black people.

September 12, 2017 photo. Shakespeare in the Streets' "Blow, Winds," inspired by "King Lear," is staged on the steps of the St. Louis Public Library, Central Library, downtown.
Shakespeare Festival St. Louis

The cast and crew of this year’s Shakespeare in the Streets production worked for a year to bring its take on the Bard’s “King Lear” to the steps of the St. Louis Public Library’s Central Library, downtown.

But the Sept. 15 opening day of “Blow, Winds” coincided with another big event in St. Louis: Judge Timothy Wilson's non-guilty verdict in the murder case against Jason Stockley. Shakespeare Festival St. Louis canceled the weekend run amid protests against the verdict.

Theatergoers will have a chance to see it next summer. The festival plans to present “Blow, Winds” June 15-16, in connection with its annual event in Forest Park.

A street medic assists a protester after St. Louis police officers sprayed checmicals into a crowd of demonstrators near Busch Stadium on Sept. 29, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Nov. 15 at 2:00 p.m. with comments from ACLU, Mayor Krewson — A federal judge has ordered the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to alter tactics its officers use to respond to protests, especially demonstrations aimed at changing law enforcement policies.

In a 49-page opinion issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry blocked the department from ordering protesters to disperse unless there’s an immediate threat of violence. Perry also limited when officers can use chemical agents like pepper spray or mace.

St. Louis city police officers detain protesters downtown on Sept. 15, 2017 after the acquittal of Jason Stockley was announced.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis aldermen are weighing whether to put new limits on the way the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department interacts with protesters.

The Public Safety committee on Tuesday heard two hours of testimony in support of the bill sponsored by Alderwoman Megan Green, D-15th Ward. It’s modeled on an ordinance in place in Washington, D.C.

State Rep. Joe Adams, D-University City
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Missouri state Rep. Joe Adams, a Democrat from University City.

It’s the first appearance on the podcast for Adams, who has been involved in area politics for more than three decades.

State Rep. Bruce Franks answers reporter questions outside City Hall on Sept. 29, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A diverse crowd of Democrats packed a recent party meeting in Richmond Heights to hear from state Rep. Bruce Franks, a St. Louis Democrat who’s become a prominent voice for police accountability amid protests throughout the St. Louis region.

You could hear a pin drop when Franks bluntly asked his audience, “Can somebody tell me how black folks are supposed to vote for Claire McCaskill?”

Jeff Roorda, the St. Louis Police Officers' Association's business manager, and Alderman Joe Vaccaro, receive the news that Prop P passed. Nov. 7, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 12:15 a.m., Nov. 8, with additional comments — Police and firefighters in St. Louis will get a $6,000 raise in July, after voters on Tuesday easily approved a half-cent sales tax hike.

The tax increase measure, known as Proposition P, passed with close to 60 percent of the vote. It will kick in in early 2018, and is expected to generate about $20 million a year. Most of the money will go toward the raises, though the circuit attorney’s office will receive about $1.3 million.

State Rep. Shane Roden, R-Cedar Hill
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest episode of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome Missouri state Rep. Shane Roden to the program for the first time.

The Cedar Hill Republican represents portions of northwest Jefferson County in the Missouri House. He was first elected in 2014, a year when the GOP took control of most of that county’s legislative offices.

Protesters chant outside Busch Stadium during a Cardinals game on Sept. 29.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

On Sept. 15, St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson ruled that former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith.

St. Louis voters will decide next Tuesday whether to boost the sales tax a half cent to fund raises for police and firefighters.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Voters in St. Louis will go to the polls next week to decide whether to give the city’s police officers and firefighters a raise by boosting the city’s sales tax by a half-cent.

Proposition P is the second sales tax on the ballot in six months. Approval would push the rate to nearly 12 percent in some parts of the city. And the current climate around policing in St. Louis is making the measure a tough sell.

Protesters walk down Olive Street in downtown St. Louis after the People's Town Hall event. Sept. 28, 2017
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Mary Ann Tisdale’s 20s lined up with the peak of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and the struggle for black empowerment.

Tisdale didn’t participate. She said she was scared of getting hurt, but she followed the movement closely — reading “everything there was to read.”

“You could say physically, I’m a coward, but I know what’s going on,” she said.

s_falkow | Flickr

The city of St. Louis has pledged to let most people charged with municipal offenses go home without having to pay bail.

These changes are part of a court order finalized earlier this month. They were prompted in part by a federal lawsuit from the MacArthur Justice Center over the way people protesting Jason Stockley's acquittal of first-degree murder were treated by the police and courts. That lawsuit has since been dismissed.

LaShell Eikerenkoetter addresses police officers after protesters saw them use a Taser on a demonstrator.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The search for a new chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department — underway since Sam Dotson retired in April — is into its sixth month.  Applications were due on Thursday, and a new chief should be in place by January.

The final steps of the process are taking place with the department under a bright spotlight from protesters demanding more police accountability, and the scrutiny could impact the way the rest of the search plays out.

LaShell Eikerenkoetter and Rev. Darryl Gray have each been arrested during the Stockley protests.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The Rev. Darryl Gray marched alongside iconic civil rights figures, including Ralph Abernathy, who succeeded Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as head of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

St. Louis police arrest a protester in September, 2017.
File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Two protesters testified on Monday that they did not receive a warning before St. Louis police deployed pepper spray on them on Sept. 15.

The American Civil Liberty Union of Missouri claims that police officers violated the constitutional rights of protesters following St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson's Sept. 15 decision to find former police officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the 2011 murder of Anthony Lamar Smith.

The ACLU has asked U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry to order police to limit when officers can give dispersal warnings or use chemical agents.

"Right now in St. Louis, pepper spray is the new fire hose," Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said during his closing argument.

Arlene Holt Baker, executive vice president emerita of the AFL-CIO, joins state Rep. Bruce Franks outside America's Center on Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7:25 p.m. Oct. 21, with details from Galleria mall protest — Missouri state Rep. Bruce Franks urged members of the AFL-CIO on Saturday to stand with protesters in St. Louis who are fighting to end police killings of black people.

A group of about 25 protesters gathered outside America’s Center, where the union is holding its convention. Franks had been invited to speak, but protesters were not allowed in until the national union’s leaders assured the convention center there would be no problems. A few hours later, protesters returned to the Galleria mall in Richmond Heights, where police declared their demonstration an unlawful assembly, but left without incident.

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