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:

File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Three St. Louis police officers told a federal judge on Thursday that the police response to protesters in St. Louis on Sept. 17 was handled lawfully under police policies.

Their testimony came on the second day of hearings on a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Missouri. The suit alleged that officers violated the constitutional rights of protesters when they used chemical agents and arrested protesters and bystanders without warning.

Sgt. Brian Rossomano told U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry that police ordered the crowd to to disperse. But ACLU officials say St. Louis police officers are allowed too much discretion when responding to the protesters.

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

People arrested in St. Louis during the first weekend of protests against the Jason Stockley verdict will have to wait longer to know if they’ll be charged.

On Wednesday, a judge sent home a group who appeared in her courtroom at the downtown City Justice Center.

City Court Judge Roberta Hitt told the protesters that they would be notified by mail if they face any charges.

Protesters linked arms on Sept. 15, 2017 in downtown St. Louis on Tucker St.
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.

The verdict immediately touched off protests in downtown St. Louis, which spread throughout the city, St. Louis County and to St. Charles County. The protests have continued almost daily

As you are making sense of what's happening in the region, what questions do you have about the ongoing protests? Share them here and we may consider your question in our reporting. 

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley shares evidence included in a motion to dismiss Backpage's lawsuit against him.
File photo I Durrie Bouscaren | St. Louis Public Radio

As protests over Jason Stockley’s acquittal continue in St. Louis, some activists and politicians have called for outside prosecutors to investigate police-involved killings.

That includes elected officials who were previously wary about the idea, including Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.

One specific proposal is to have the Missouri attorney general examine instances where a police officer uses deadly force. But the current inhabitant of that office, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley, is not particularly enthusiastic to the idea.

County police and their families help pack the room as the County Council considers a police pay raise.
Jo Mannies/St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 31, 2017: Before a packed crowd, the St. Louis County Council gave final approval to a pay hike for county police beginning Jan. 1.  The vote of 6-0, with one absent, came after no debate. The result touched off lots of applause from police and their families packing the audience.

Our earlier story:

The St. Louis County Council got an earful Tuesday before members unanimously gave initial approval to a measure increasing county police pay beginning Jan. 1.  

For almost two hours, council members heard mainly from St. Louis County police officers and their families concerned that the pay hike might be blocked by a pension dispute between Council Chairman Sam Page and County Executive Steve Stenger. 

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. leads a chant inside the St. Louis Galleria. Sept. 30, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

“No justice, no profits.”

That’s one of several chants protesters have used in nearly daily events since Sept. 15, the day a St. Louis Circuit judge acquitted former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. Activists have made it clear that economic disruption is a big part of their strategy.

And they’ve put a number on it. Rep. Bruce Franks, D-St. Louis, who has taken part in many of the demonstrations, told a crowd late last month the economic impact was $10 million to $11 million.

St. Louis County police officer Ben Granda trains in a simulator at the St. Louis County and Municipal Police Academy. The simualator, a gift from the Burges Family Foundation, helps officers practice the tactics that can keep them safe.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Use-of-force policies for both the St. Louis Metropolitan Police and St. Louis County Police departments say officers can shoot someone to “protect themselves or others from what is reasonably believed to be an imminent threat of death or serious physical injury.”

Protesters who have been marching throughout greater St. Louis, demanding greater police accountability for more than a month, say those policies give officers too much leeway. They want more limits on when officers can draw and fire their weapons. But an expert on deadly force says the solution isn’t more restrictions — it’s better training.

Ferguson police officers arrest a protester on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017
Vincent Lang | St. Louis American

 

Ferguson police arrested a handful of protesters late Friday during a demonstration in front of the city’s Police Department.

The arrests, made about 45 minutes into a demonstration billed as a “liberation party,” came after a Ferguson officer used a bullhorn to warn that protesters who were blocking traffic on the street were in violation of a city ordinance.

After the officer had given three warnings, two city police vehicles moved slowly down South Florissant Road with sirens blaring at about 8:40 p.m. As they stopped near the crowd, other officers rushed to the street. Protesters said officers took five people into custody.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Jimmie Edwards talks to reporters on Friday after being appointed as the city's public safety director.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson selected a nationally-renowned judge to head the city’s public safety agency, which oversees the police and fire departments.

Judge Jimmie Edwards’ appointment drew widespread praise, including from elected officials who have been supportive of the protests over former police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Audience members express dissatisfaction with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson's comments Wednesday at a meeting at Harris-Stowe State University. Oct. 11, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

During a frequently contentious forum Wednesday at Harris-Stowe State University, people who have been protesting for the past three weeks had choice words and asked pointed questions of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.

What was billed as a forum to discuss how to transfer the activism of the protests into policy turned into more of a question-and-answer session with audience members demanding to know why it’s so hard to get a new police chief; why the city isn’t investing more in communities of color and why the city hasn’t followed the recommendations of the Ferguson Commission.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens sits  for an interview with St. Louis Public Radio in downtown St. Louis on July 17, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said Tuesday he’s willing to consider proposals to require outside law enforcement agencies to investigate police-involved killings.

It’s a proposal that’s gaining more attention amid protests over Jason Stockley’s acquittal of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Kris Kleindienst, co-owner of Left Bank Books, stand next to the ResiSTL display table.
Maria Altman | St. Louis Public Radio

The protests in St. Louis over the last three weeks have topped the news almost daily.

Even for those who stay up on what’s happening, there may be questions about how this came to pass again, just three years after race-related protests in Ferguson.

Delving into St. Louis’ history of racial division and relations between police and black people can seem overwhelming. St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman set out to make a reading list with recommendations from people who are used to being asked.

Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Don Marsh discussed how protests over the Stockley verdict have evolved.

Earlier this week, St. Louis police arrested 143 demonstrators after Interstate 64 was blocked for a time.

Rep. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, is sponsoring legislation that would implement a photo ID requirement for voting.
File photo I Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Justin Alferman back to the program.

The Hermann Republican represents Missouri's the 61st House District, which takes in portions of Gasconade, Franklin and Osage counties. Alferman is vice chairman of the powerful House Budget Committee, which is in charge of shaping the state’s spending priorities every year.

The Rev. Starsky Wilson former co-chair of the Ferguson Commission
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

After the demonstrations that followed a Ferguson police officer’s fatal shooting of Michael Brown in 2014, the 16-member Ferguson Commission came up with a list of recommendations to address policing and the region’s disparities in jobs, education and policing. But many African-Americans say elected leaders have yet to adopt those proposals —and that has helped fuel a new wave of protests.

In the three weeks that followed a judge’s decision to acquit former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith, people have again taken to the streets. The Rev. Starsky Wilson and others say the latest protests — including Tuesday night’s shutdown of Interstate 64 — are acts of social disruption aimed at compelling regional leaders to act.

Police arrested dozens of people on Oct. 3, 2017, after they blocked part of Interstate 64.
File photo | Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated Oct. 4 at 9:55 a.m. with the number of arrests — The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department arrested 143 people protesting Jason Stockley’s acquittal  Tuesday night after they blocked a section of Interstate 64 in St. Louis.

It’s the latest demonstration after a judge found Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, on Sept. 15. Demonstrators aredemanding police officers stop killing black people throughout St. Louis.

Rep. Jeff Roorda, D-Barnhart
File photo I Chris McDaniel I St. Louis Public Radio

Jeff Roorda, the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association, is running to become the next county executive of Jefferson County.

It’s the latest electoral pursuit for Roorda, a former Democratic state representative who has attracted local and national attention, and controversy, for his law enforcement advocacy after several police-involved killings in the St. Louis area.

Stockley protesters turn their eyes to political action

Oct 2, 2017
Protester Nicole Greer helps Penrose resident Antoine Jones register to vote Oct. 1, 2017 in St. Louis.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

After more than two weeks of protesting the Jason Stockley verdict in the streets, in malls and in business districts, protest organizers implemented a different tactic Sunday. They’re encouraging political engagement as well.

Demonstrators gathered at Wohl Community Center in north St. Louis Sunday afternoon to register voters.

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. told a crowd of a few hundred people that the protests won’t end, but it’s time to put a new tool in place.

Demonstrators march through the St. Louis Galleria on Saturday evening as they continue protests against the acquittal of Jason Stockley and police violence against black people. Sept. 30, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A week after St. Louis County police arrested 22 people following a peaceful demonstration at the Galleria mall, protesters returned to the shopping center in a short and tightly executed display of resistance they vowed to continue.

Dozens of protesters went to the mall at about 6 p.m. to let police, business leaders and others know that they would not be deterred in their fight to end police violence against black people. They gained a diverse group of followers inside the mall before heading to the intersection of Brentwood Boulevard and Galleria Parkway.

“If people are a little uncomfortable, cool. If people are stuck in traffic, cool. If they’re mad because they can’t buy something, cool,” Democratic state Rep. Bruce Franks said. “We’re going to keep affecting the economy. We’re going to keep disrupting.”

Rasheen Aldridge, activist and democratic committeeman for the 5th Ward, wipes his eyes after police officers sprayed chemicals at protesters near Busch Stadium. Sept. 29, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

A three-hour protest late Friday in downtown St. Louis ended in a tense confrontation between police and demonstrators.

People in the crowd of protesters said police used chemical agents on some protesters and shot one person with a Taser. Police confirmed they made at least two arrests.

The turmoil followed a night of peaceful demonstrations that took protesters from Kiener Plaza to Busch Stadium, where they chanted at police behind barricades. The protesters demanded that police stop using deadly force on black people.

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