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Top Stories

Editor's picks for the top news stories of the day.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson
Gage Skidmore | Flickr

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is urging people in the St. Louis region to make sure protests do not disintegrate into violence.

During a stop Thursday in East St. Louis, Carson said he hoped the protests would generate a broader understanding of the challenges facing the St. Louis region.

Protesters faced off with police Friday afternoon just hours after ex-St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was found not guilty in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Originally published on September 20, 2017. Updated with audio from Don Marsh's discussion with Jeffrey Mittman on "St. Louis on the Air."

This past week, hundreds of people took to the streets to express outrage at a judge’s decision to find former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

The protests largely have been peaceful. But police have made numerous arrests since the demonstrations began. On Sunday alone, police made 123 arrests — largely on a charge of failure to disperse. They also charged a few people with the destruction of property or assault. 

A view of Highway K in O'Fallon in 1970.
Jim Karll

To grasp St. Charles County’s dramatic growth, one only needs to view two photos taken 47 years apart by Jim Karll.

Both show Highway K in O’Fallon, just south of Interstate 70. The first photo, taken in 1970, shows a remote road amid farmland and woods. In the second, Highway K is packed with traffic and flanked by shopping centers and businesses.

St. Charles County’s population skyrocketed from 90,000 in 1970 to almost 400,000 today — a pace unmatched anywhere else in the state. It also has the second-largest bloc of GOP voters in the state and attracts lots of businesses. But a few things threaten its upward trajectory, namely public transportation and a lack of diversity.

September 20, 2017 photo. About 100 people attended a town hall meeting at the O'Fallon Park Recreation Complex.
File photo | Mary Delach Leonard | St. Louis Public Radio

The next police chief of St. Louis needs to reign in a department that has allowed its officers to too quickly use deadly force and frequently mistreat African-Americans, residents said Wednesday night.

St. Louis is preparing to hire someone to replace former Chief Sam Dotson, who retired April 19, the day after Mayor Lyda Krewson was took office. Since then, Larry O’Toole has led the department as interim chief.

Protesters blocked Brentwood Blvd. outside of the Galleria mall on Wednesday night as they chanted “for Anthony Smith and Michael Brown, shut it down, shut it down.”
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 7:45 p.m. with mall closure — The advertised gathering spot Wednesday for people wanting to voice their displeasure with the Jason Stockley verdict was downtown Clayton.

That was a decoy, as protesters converged on the St. Louis Galleria and blocked traffic on busy Brentwood Boulevard in Richmond Heights, about a mile away. Both Clayton and the mall were targeted because of protesters’ strategy to disrupt business as usual in affluent communities.

Anthony Lamar Smith's mother, Annie Smith (center), watches a meeting of the St. Louis Board of Estimate and Apportionment. Smith's son was killed in 2011 by former St. Louis Police officer Jason Stockley.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ top elected officials said Wednesday they support a company’s offer to supply free body camera for police officers. But it’s not a sure thing that the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department will use them permanently.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, Comptroller Darlene Green and Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed approved a proposal from Axon, formerly called Taser, to provide police officers with the cameras. In April, Axon said it would offer body cameras to all police departments for a year for free.

The three officials also voted to request bids from companies that would permanently supply the devices.

Inmates at the Medium Security Institution in St. Louis look out during a protest on July 22, 2017.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Jail inmates at the St. Louis County Justice Center in Clayton stay for an average of 59 days before their cases are tried or dismissed. But 10 miles away, at the Medium Security Institution in the city of St. Louis, the typical prisoner waits for eight months.

The St. Louis jail, which does not have air conditioning in the men’s dorms, drew protests this summer after inmates cried for help during a heat wave. The city installed temporary cooling units at the facility, also known as the Workhouse, and extreme temperatures have since subsided. Inmates and their families say more must be done to improve conditions in the aging facility. But city officials say there isn’t much more they can do.

School Illustration
Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri education leaders want to spend about $121 million more on K-12 public schools next school year, they told the State Board of Education on Tuesday, though it’s not clear whether the state can afford it..

The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education outlined its proposed budget in Jefferson City, which would include a $98.9 million increase in the K-12 funding formula.

Image of a Ferguson Police car, January 2017
Paul Sableman | Flickr

Ferguson has made good progress in reforming its police department and municipal court, a federal judge said Tuesday, though it’s far from over.

Ferguson’s police and court have been operating under federal oversight for more than a year. The city has written new policies on things like use-of-force and recruiting new officers, but has missed deadlines to implement them.

The Rev. Linden Bowie holds his hands up for six minutes on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, to mark six years between the death of Anthony Lamar Smith and the acquittal of ex-St. Louis officer Jason Stockley during a vigil and march downtown.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

On the fifth day after the Jason Stockley verdict was announced, protesters mostly rested Tuesday while faith leaders converged on downtown St. Louis to call for change. And near the city’s jail, a half-dozen people are committed to camping out until everyone who was arrested Sunday night is released.

Lyda Krewson speaks with reporters after winning the Democratic mayoral primary on March 7, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 4:55 p.m. with more from news conference — St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson canceled a town hall meeting Tuesday, instead holding a news conference to discuss the ongoing protests

She said she called off the town hall, the third of five she's had scheduled, because the discussions are “happening in the streets and in my inbox and on social media right now," she first said in a statement. "We are listening.”

Bits of glass covers a sidewalk in downtown St. Louis after people broke windows on Sunday. (Sept. 17, 2017_
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

The numbers aren’t in yet, but recent protests over the Jason Stockley verdict are clearly hitting the St. Louis region financially.

Two major concerts, U2 at the Dome at America’s Center and Ed Sheeran at Scottrade Center, were canceled on Saturday and Sunday. That meant a combined 100,000 concertgoers who were not in downtown St. Louis.

Sikeston farmer Trey Wilson said he saw substantial damage to his soybean crops this year. On the left is what a healthy soybean plant looks like; on the right is a soybean plant showing signs of dicamba damage.
Trey Wilson

Sikeston, Missouri — In front of several greenhouse scaffolds, Steve Hamra gestured to a metal cart containing trays of seedlings for bell peppers, tomatoes and romaine lettuce. About 150 miles south of St. Louis on a 10-acre site, Hamra is growing produce hydroponically, or in water instead of soil, for about 400 schools, in Missouri and other states.

Missouri state Rep. Rob Vescovo, R-Jefferson County
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. Rob Vescovo, R-Jefferson County.

A demonstrator chants toward St. Louis Metropolitan Police Headquarters Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017 before protests turned violent.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 11:40 p.m. with quote from protester released from jail — Hundreds of protesters redirected their efforts on a rainy Monday night to the St. Louis’ City Justice Center, where people who’d been arrested in recent days were being released.

Protesters marched peacefully and largely in silence throughout downtown St. Louis early Monday morning. 9/18/17
Brit Hanson | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:45 p.m. to recast throughout, add details about cleanup — When morning broke Monday, about 100 people already were in the streets of downtown St. Louis to silently protest the acquittal of former St. Louis officer Jason Stockley and high schoolers in the suburbs were walking out of classes.

It was the fourth day of action since a judge decided Stockley wasn’t guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith. More than 150 people have been arrested since Friday’s verdict, including 123 people Sunday night in downtown, where businesses mended broken windows Monday.

An evening protest took place in the Delmar Loop, which hosted a largely peaceful demonstration Saturday before a few people broke several windows.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks at a news conference Thursday night alongside Christina Wilson, the fiancee of Anthony Lamar Smith.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Republican Gov. Eric Greitens and St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, a Democrat, promised during their recent campaigns to make people feel safe.

Last week’s acquittal of a white ex-police officer of the first-degree murder of a black man is putting their words to the test, and activists and elected officials aren’t sure Greitens and Krewson are earning passing grades.

A demonstrator waves a flag from a minivan during protests Sunday evening over the acquittal of former St. Louis cop Jason Stockey. A third day of protests started peacefully before a smaller group smashed windows downtown.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:25 p.m. Sept. 18 with release of Post-Dispatch reporter — More than 80 people were arrested Sunday night, St. Louis police said, long after the official — and peaceful — protests ended. The last group of people to be arrested downtown were boxed in by police and sprayed with a chemical agent, a livestream showed, and a St. Louis Post-Dispatch staffer tweeted that one of their reporters was among them. A Post-Dispatch editor this morning announced that reporter Mike Faulk has been released.

Artist Cornell McKay paints plywood covering a broken window
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Restaurants and shops along the Delmar Loop in University City were bustling Sunday, hours after protesters took to the streets in the arts and entertainment district.

On Saturday night, Delmar Boulevard was packed with people expressing outrage over a judge’s decision to find former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith. The protests were peaceful, but after the official demonstration was over, there were some confrontations between protesters and police. Twenty-three businesses were damaged, with dozens of windows broken, according to the University City Police Department.

There were no serious injuries, but officers made 10 arrests and five people face various charges from looting to assault on a law enforcement officer, officials with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, St. Louis County police and University City police said. 

Illinois State Geological Survey

Homeowners in the metro-east who are concerned about mine subsidence can use an interactive mapping tool provided by the Illinois State Geological Survey to see if there's a coal mine under their property.

Protesters march on Delmar Boulevard
Lawrence Bryant | St. Louis American

 

 

Updated at 11:25 p.m. with new details from evening protests — A second full day of outrage over former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley’s acquittal in the 2011 fatal shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith took protesters to a St. Louis County mall, downtown St. Louis and a mass rally Saturday night in the Delmar Loop.

U2 in concert
Danny North

 

The ongoing protests over a judge’s decision to find former police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of murder in the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith have led major entertainment venues to cancel events.

Tonight’s scheduled concert by U2 at the Dome at America’s Center has been canceled, as has Sunday’s show by singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran at Scottrade Center.

 The St. Louis Symphony also has canceled its concert for tonight.

Protesters march through the Central West End on Friday night.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 1 a.m. with updates on number of officers injured — People protesting the not-guilty verdict in the Jason Stockley trial moved west out of downtown St. Louis on Friday night and into the Central West End, targeting Mayor Lyda Krewson's home.

Several hundred protesters started at Euclid and Maryland avenues before trying to shut down Interstate 64, but police blocked off all highway access ramps. By 9:45 p.m., some went to Krewson's house and threw rocks, which broke windows. Officers in riot gear showed up and the St. Louis Police Department tweeted that tear gas was used. 

HARRIS COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

Updated at 9:20 p.m. with the Post-Dispatch interview with Stockley — A former St. Louis Metropolitan Police officer is not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith, a judge ruled Friday.

"This Court, as the trier of fact, is simply not firmly convinced of defendant's guilt," St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson said in his verdict. "Agonizingly, this Court has poured over the evidence again and again."

Immediately, protesters, who promised weeks of protests, amassed downtown. The St. Louis chapter of the NAACP called for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department to review the case.

Protesters wait outside a news conference held by Gov. Eric Greitens on Thursday, Sept. 14, 2017. The region awaits a judge's ruling in the case of ex-officer Jason Stockley, who is charged with murder in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 8:15 p.m. Sept. 14 with Greitens' meeting — Though there’s no official word on when the Jason Stockley verdict will be announced in St. Louis, city and state leaders made it clear the time is soon.

A few hours after activating the National Guard, Gov. Eric Greitens met Thursday night with the fiancee of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man who was fatally shot by Stockley, an white ex-St. Louis officer, in December 2011. Earlier in the day, Mayor Lyda Krewson issued a video in which she said the city is preparing to quell any disorder. And the city and county police departments said they’d start 12-hour shifts starting Friday morning.

Activists have promised days of protests if Stockley, who resigned in 2013 and now lives in Texas, is acquitted.

Two grizzly bear cubs arrived at the Saint Louis Zoo in the summer of 2017.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Visitors to the St. Louis Zoo will be able to watch two grizzly bear cubs from Montana starting Friday.

The male, Huckleberry and female, Finley, are both 2 1/2 years old. They and their mother were found disturbing residences and livestock, posing a risk to public safety. Montana wildlife officials killed the mother and sent the cubs to St. Louis Zoo, because zoo officials already had plans to revamp the grizzly bear exhibit.

Sept. 11, 2017 photo. Prison Performing Arts Sescond Acts Ensemble members Robert Morgan (left) and Lyn O'Brien are buddies as well as fellow actors.
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ Prison Performing Arts serves 1,000 inmates every year, some as actors, others as audience members. But leaving prison doesn’t have to mean saying goodbye to the program.

Through its Second Acts Ensemble alumni troupe, PPA provides a theatrical outlet on the outside for those who honed their acting skills behind bars.

In our latest Cut & Paste podcast, we talk with Robert Morgan and Lyn O’Brien, two Second Acts members, about how PPA and recently deceased founder Agnes Wilcox changed their lives.

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

More than 1 million of us call the St. Louis area home.  But depending on whether you live in Affton, Ladue, Wellston or any other of the 90 municipalities — and where you went to high school — the experience varies widely.

A new play puts a Shakespearean spin on living in St. Louis. “Blow, Winds,” inspired by “King Lear,” is this year’s production of Shakespeare Festival St. Louis’ Shakespeare in the Streets.

Vitaly Neimer teaching a child to play.
powerfulchess.com

I took my first steps in chess in St. Petersburg when I was 5 years old. In cold Russia, chess is considered one of the mainstream sports to follow. Then, my family and I moved to Israel and discovered that chess was not any less popular.

Chess followed me through school, military service and even to a university in the United States.

Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City, speaks during a 2016 candidate forum for candidates in the 1st Congressional District.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

 

Updated 7:25 p.m. with exclusive comments from Chappelle-Nadal — Maria Chappelle-Nadal won’t lose her seat in the Missouri Senate, the chamber decided Wednesday. But the Democrat is being censured — a move that apparently hasn’t happened before and is little more than a written reprimand.

Gov. Eric Greitens and Lt. Gov. Mike Parson said last month that the University City Democrat should be expelled for posting a Facebook comment in which she wished for President Donald Trump’s assassination. There wasn’t enough support among Senate members for that to happen Wednesday during the otherwise-quiet veto session. Instead, the GOP majority censured her by a 28-2 vote for her now-deleted post.

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