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Government, Politics & Issues

St. Louis Police Clear City Hall Tent Encampment Again, Arrest Protesters

Live streams of the protest showed members of the Florissant Police Department hitting protesters with batons, spraying them with pepper spray and making arrests.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis police arrested several protesters outside City Hall on Sunday morning, and two officers were reported injured after barricades were pushed over where protesters have gathered for days calling for Mayor Lyda Krewson’s resignation.

KMOV-TV reported one officer possibly has a broken arm, while the condition of the other was not immediately available. The area was cleared early Sunday morning, and the barricades were put in place around City Hall. 

Police released a statement saying protesters became extremely aggressive,” so they established a line to stop the protesters from interfering with the city workers, who fenced off City Hall.

After the fencing was in place, the officers moved from the area, police said. Then, the protesters returned, pushed the fencing over and entered the area.

Police said the protesters also assaulted a reporter and camera operator. KMOV reporter Caroline Hecker said on Twitter that protesters grabbed a camera and threatened them. 

Six people were arrested, police said, on a variety of felony, misdemeanor and city ordinance violations. Police could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday afternoon for more details about the arrests and officers' injuries.

This is the second time in a week police officers have cleared a tent encampment outside City Hall, which activists that are part of the Occupy City Hall STL group reassembled Friday night.

Activists have been protesting for more than two weeks outside City Hall and Krewson’s home, sparked by a web livestream late last month in which Krewson read the names and street addresses of some protesters who have called on the city to defund the police department. She later apologized and deleted the video.

Two days later, the protests received national attention when a group of about 100 protesters marching in the Central West End neighborhood toward Krewson’s home faced a pair of personal injury attorneys, who stood outside their home brandishing guns.

In a Facebook post Friday, Occupy City Hall STL said protesters don’t plan on leaving City Hall until Krewson resigns. But Krewson spokesperson Jacob Long said in a statement Sunday morning that's not going to happen.

“Mayor Krewson isn’t resigning and isn’t going to be distracted from the job she was elected to do: Serve more than 300,000 St. Louisans who are currently counting on her administration to navigate multiple public health and economic crises, including a global pandemic. That’s what she’s focused on right now,” he said.

Over the weekend, activists have occupied the steps and the front of City Hall, showcasing black-owned businesses, projecting movies and playing basketball. They’ve also painted the words “resign Lyda” on the street, which city workers scrubbed off Friday. 

“We’ve held numerous events for our community in joyful resistance. We danced down a Soul Train line, played games, held group yoga sessions, fed our unhoused family and much more. This is who we are. This is how we resist — in community, in solidarity, and in struggle,” according to a Facebook post Friday.

Representatives of Occupy City Hall STL could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday.

Follow Corinne on Twitter: @corinnesusan

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