Protests | St. Louis Public Radio


Tiana Bojorquez's paintings can be seen on the boarded up windows of the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy on Delmar Boulevard. June 29, 2020
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

Tiana Bojorquez has spent much of the past several weeks thinking about how she can capture what's going on in the streets on a special canvas.

On boarded-up windows of the Medicine Shoppe Pharmacy on Delmar Boulevard, she has fused art and activism to join the movement demanding that police stop killing black people.

It took her several days to paint the colorful and bold images that read “STL Strong” and "Black Lives Matter" in red and green with the letters outlined in black.

The statue of King Louis IX, the namesake of the city of St. Louis, has stood atop Art Hill in Forest Park since 1906. [6/29/20]
Colin Faulkingham | Wikimedia Commons

The Archdiocese of St. Louis released a statement Sunday responding to calls to remove the Forest Park statue of King Louis IX, the namesake of the city of St. Louis.

“We should not seek to erase history,” the unsigned statement reads, “but recognize and learn from it, while working to create new opportunities for our brothers and sisters.”

Provided by Tony Rice

Updated at 5:30 p.m. with no charges against other officers

The St. Charles County prosecutor will not charge two Florissant police officers who were with a detective who ran over a man with his car.

Earlier this month, St. Charles County Prosecutor Tim Lohmar charged former Florissant detective Joshua Smith with first-degree assault. He was the driver of an unmarked police car that ran over a man earlier this month.

Protesters on Lindbergh Boulevard decry police brutality as they shout at Florissant police on June 21, 2020.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Protesters angry at police use of force returned to Florissant on Sunday to again call for change and insist that they will not rest until police officers who harm people are held accountable.

Dozens of people gathered along Lindbergh Boulevard to decry police brutality in front of the Florissant Police Department, where some again attempted to paint “Black Lives Matter” after their earlier work had twice been painted over with blue paint by people who support police.

After protesters chalked the lines for the words, a police officer ordered them off the street. When they tried to paint the letters, police in riot gear pushed the crowd back and then arrested two people, who onlookers said were not among the painters. Police confiscated paint and brushes, returned later to order protesters to leave and arrested two others.

Protesters against police brutality again took to the streets near the Florissant Police Department on Saturday, as tensions again flared between demonstrators and police.

Florissant police in riot gear shouted at protesters to “move back,” and called the gathering an unlawful assembly.

The crowd grew late Saturday as people angry at how police forcefully stopped the previous day's protest took to social media to urge others to come to Florissant.

Belleville Plant Agrees To Cooperate With Employee Leading Black Lives Matter Protest

Jun 19, 2020
This is the January 2020 drawing on a safety-themed calendar that Empire Comfort Systems in Belleville had made for employees, whose children were invited to submit artwork. Names have been removed to protect privacy.
Provided via the Belleville News-Democrat

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the Belleville News-Democrat.

Organizers of a Black Lives Matter protest march set to begin at Empire Comfort Systems in Belleville on Friday have accused the company of allowing racial discrimination and recently producing a calendar that included artwork they deemed racist.

In a meeting Wednesday morning, the two sides came together and agreed to cooperate. An Empire executive plans to march with the crowd, and the company has offered to make signs in its print shop.

Protesters take to the streets in downtown Clayton. May 30, 2020

The average protester might seem like a young adult, but parents are also bringing out their children with them to demonstrate. 

On Wednesday’s St. Louis on the Air, host Sarah Fenske heard from parents about how they navigate the ongoing shift in culture when it comes to conversations about race, and making the decision to bring kids to protests. Joining the discussion were We Stories board members Jenna Voss and Pamela Washington. 

Deborah Krause, a long-time faculty member and former academic dean at Eden Theological Seminar, will become the school's 13th president on July 1.
Mia Smutz-Ulmer

Eden Theological Seminary is preparing to appoint its first-ever female president.

Longtime Eden faculty member and former academic Dean Deborah Krause will replace David Greenhaw, who has been president since 1997, in July. 

An ordained Presbyterian minister, Krause joined other religious leaders in Ferguson calling for justice after Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by a police officer in 2014 — an event she has called “an everyday occurrence that turned into an execution.” In the years since, she has worked closely with local activists in St. Louis and led efforts to boost on-campus diversity at Eden.

A peace march in Kirkwood June 6, 2020
File photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

After decades of protests against police brutality, 19-year-old Kenidra Adams thought stopping officers from killing black people would be a top priority for the country by now.

Then she saw how a white Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd last month when he pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes.

For Adams, that was a painful reminder that little has changed.

“I’m angry. I’ve been angry, and the fact that I’ve been fighting for almost seven years now and we are still here,” said Adams, of St. Louis. “We came a long way, but we still have some way to go.”

About 100 demontrators, many of them children, walk onto the Arch grounds Sunday June 14, 2020, to protest police violence. It was just one of several such protests over the weekend.
File Photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Activists again took to streets, parks and intersections across the St. Louis region this weekend to call for an end to heavy-handed policing tactics.

At one point Sunday, simultaneous demonstrations were underway in Ballwin, St. Ann and St. Louis. More protests took place at other times throughout the weekend, including a caravan of dozens of cars that drove through the city’s central corridor, and a march in Webster Groves. 

Jerryl Christmas, one of the lawyers defending the man who was struck by an SUV driven by former detective Joshua Smith demanded further action be taken against Smith during a protest held outside the Florissant Police Department.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 9:20 p.m. June 10 with additional information from the protest 

Florissant police detective Joshua Smith has lost his job, days after video of him hitting a man with an SUV sparked outrage throughout the region — and protests in one of St. Louis County’s largest municipalities.

Florissant Police Chief Timothy Fagan fired Smith on Wednesday, said Sgt. Craig DeHart. He had been suspended after Real STL News released footage from a residential video camera showing an unmarked police car that Smith was driving hit a man. 

Hundreds of activists gathered in downtown St. Louis to protest the death of George Floyd. May 29, 2020
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

As a professor of political science at Washington University, Clarissa Rile Hayward had a front-row seat for the protests and disruption that followed the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson in 2014. She paid attention as activists blocked highways, demonstrated at a symphony performance and even interrupted brunch at fancy restaurants to agitate for the Black Lives Matter movement.

And she found herself thinking about what tactics work, and why. She believed that the conventional wisdom about such protests — that they only work if they present a “stark confrontation … between good and evil” in the words of noted sociologist Doug McAdam — was incomplete. She set out to develop a new model, one that accounts for protests that disrupt “elites’ agenda-setting,” and thereby transform the political calculus.   

Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET

In wrenching testimony before a House panel Wednesday, George Floyd's younger brother Philonise declared, "They lynched my brother."

"That was a modern-day lynching, in broad daylight," Floyd said, adding, "I still need time to grieve."

Thousands demonstrated in from of St. Louis City Hall and marched through downtown Sunday June 7, 2020, with calls for police reform.
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Before 19-year-old Sydney Alexander goes out to protest in the St. Louis area, she makes sure she has all of the protective gear necessary to prevent contracting COVID-19.

That means wearing a mask and gloves and trying her best to remain socially distant from others. As an African American woman whose father contracted the coronavirus in April, she’s afraid. But she’s determined to make her voice heard because she’s tired of hearing about and watching horrific scenes.

For Alexander, this season of pain points to a difficult reality for black people.

“Are you going to be killed by the virus, and that’s a big if, or are you going to be hurt or brutalized or killed by the police?” Alexander asked.

Updated 7:28 p.m. ET

George Floyd, whose killing by police inspired worldwide protests calling for an end to systemic racism and police brutality, was taken to a cemetery for burial Tuesday in his hometown of Houston.

The black man died May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for nearly 9 minutes. A video captured by a bystander showed Floyd pleading for air and calling out for his mother.

Floyd, 46, was to be buried next to his mother.

Jason Barney, center, locks arms with fellow protester Sunday June 7, 2020, in downtown St. Louis. He was among thousands who continued days of protests against police brutality.
File photo | Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Kyla Hawkins sat on the steps of St. Louis City Hall and tried to wipe the sweat off her face and the emotion off her mind. 

She leaned her forehead against her cardboard sign and collected herself.

Hawkins, who goes by Sunshine, had just walked nearly two miles Sunday afternoon under a 93-degree June sun along with thousands of others who gathered in downtown St. Louis to protest police brutality toward minorities, sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on Memorial Day.

A peace march in Kirkwood June 6, 2020
File photo | David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:30 p.m. with a march in St. Charles.

Hundreds of people took to the streets of Kirkwood on Saturday morning to protest police brutality and the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others killed by law enforcement.

The protest was among several in the St. Louis region Saturday, including demonstrations in St. Charles, University City, Clayton, Freeburg and O'Fallon, Illinois.

Protesters March Against Racism Through Freeburg, O'Fallon, IL

Jun 6, 2020
People prepare for a Black Lives Matter protest, June 5, 2020
Lexi Cortes | Belleville News-Democrat

Editor's note: This story was originally published in the Belleville News-Democrat. Updated 3 p.m. with O'Fallon protest information

High school students flying Confederate flags at their graduation parade this week added to Lily Reaka’s urgency to organize a Black Lives Matter protest in Freeburg, her small and predominantly white hometown, for Saturday morning.

Reaka is a 2019 Freeburg Community High School graduate. She called the video “appalling.”

Sen. Roy Blunt answers questions in a press conference on Friday about adding apprenticeships to diversify education opportunities in America. 2/21/2020
File photo I Kayla Drake I St. Louis Public Radio

With protests surging throughout the country decrying police killings of African Americans, U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt wants the Department of Justice to resume action that was taken after the Ferguson unrest.

Blunt, R-Missouri, wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr asking the Department of Justice to pursue more “pattern-or-practice” reviews of police departments — and, when necessary, enter into consent decrees with law enforcement agencies. He said such moves would have more impact than any legislation Congress could pass in response to George Floyd’s death.

Protesters marched down Main Street in St. Charles Wednesday to condemn the recent killing of an unarmed black man at the hands of Minneapolis police.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Hundreds of protesters marched in St. Charles on Wednesday, blocking traffic on Route 94 and later filling Main Street with a crowd that stretched more than three blocks long. 

The demonstrations were among several held in the St. Louis region to condemn police brutality toward African Americans following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Others on Wednesday included a candlelight vigil in midtown St. Louis and a march in Ballwin. 

Protestors gathered Monday, June 1, at the City Justice Center in St. Louis for a protest for social justice, ignited by the recent killing of George Floyd.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson announced Tuesday he will deploy more than 1,000 additional members of the National Guard to assist local law enforcement statewide after four police officers were shot in St. Louis on Monday. 

After a day of protests in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, the city experienced an outbreak of violence and looting. Parson said this will not be tolerated. 

Missouri Rep. Rasheen Aldridge speaks at the protest in St. Louis County on May 30, 2020.
Lara Hamdan | St. Louis Public Radio

Six summers ago, protests against police brutality and racism brought the eyes of the nation to Ferguson. Now the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis has set off another round of protests around the world — including Ferguson and St. Louis.

“[There] is a lot of build up and frustration and anger” in the St. Louis region, state Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis, said. “Seeing these images again and then having to relive it. Seeing how this criminal justice system has constantly told black people that their lives don't matter.”

Aldridge was active in the 2014 protests that followed the death of Michael Brown. He has continued to lead protests in the years since, including the weeks of action that followed the “not guilty” verdict of a St. Louis police officer charged with murder in 2017, and now, in the wake of Floyd’s death, four consecutive nights of local protests.

On Monday, Aldridge helped to lead a protest that drew hundreds to the Arch grounds and the streets of downtown St. Louis. 

Protestors gathered Monday, June 1, at the St. Louis Justic Center for a protest for social justice, ignited by the recent killing of George Floyd.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis will impose a curfew at 9 p.m. to clear city streets and defuse the violence that has followed protests in recent days, Mayor Lyda Krewson announced Tuesday.

Krewson said the curfew will be in effect until 6 a.m. Wednesday to help authorities restore order. It will resume each evening “until further notice,” according to Krewson’s executive order authorizing the curfew. People who violate it will be subject to arrest and prosecution.

Protestors gathered Monday, June 1, at the City Justice Center in St. Louis for a protest for social justice, ignited by the recent killing of George Floyd.
David Kovaluk | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 2:35 a.m. with comments from Police Chief John Hayden

Four St. Louis police officers were shot late Monday night during protests in the city over the killing of George Floyd.

Two were shot in the leg, one in the arm and one in the foot, said Police Chief John Hayden. He was visibly frustrated as he gave an update on the shootings shortly before 2 a.m.

“Folks came down just to steal, just to destroy property and just to hurt officers,” Hayden said.

Protesters used a sustained volley of fireworks against police Saturday night at a protest in downtown Ferguson May 30, 2020. Police eventually fired smoke grenades back.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7 a.m. May 31 with police information.

Protesters brought havoc and destruction to Ferguson’s police headquarters and the city’s downtown at the end of a night of protests against police brutality mirrored around the nation Saturday.

The demonstrations and their ensuing vandalism were sparked by the death last week of George Floyd, a black man who died after a Minneapolis police officer restrained him by kneeling on his neck. Protests began in that city and have since spread across the country.

Mike Faulk is now a freelance journalist based in Washington state.
Mike Faulk

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled on the City of St. Louis’ motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a former St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter. The decision went mostly in the reporter’s favor and allows the lawsuit to proceed.

Now based in Washington state, journalist Mike Faulk filed the suit following a September 2017 protest related to the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley. Faulk was reporting on the protest when he alleges police officers unlawfully assaulted and arrested him.

On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jeremy D. Goodwin went behind the headlines to talk with Faulk about where things stand.

The Christopher Columbus statue in Tower Grove Park is the site of controversy. The statue was dedicated in 1886.
Chad Davis | St. Louis Public Radio

This Columbus Day, the fate of a monument to the explorer in St. Louis’ Tower Grove Park remains unclear.

A protest is planned at the base of the statue on Monday at noon. It comes as the park is looking into whether to remove the monument to Christopher Columbus, whose legacy has become increasingly controversial in recent years.

DeRay Mckesson poses in the trademark blue vest that he first wore in the early days of the Ferguson protests.
Adam Mayer

An educator who quit his job to join the Ferguson protests, and then became a nationally known activist is coming back to St. Louis on Thursday.

DeRay Mckesson will appear at Union Avenue Christian Church to talk about his book, “On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope.”

Police arrested two employees of the convenience store on the corner of Goodfellow and Delmar on July 24, 2018.
St. Louis American

Yellow police caution tape barred people from entering the Gas Mart at the corner of Delmar and Goodfellow boulevards on Tuesday. No one could buy gas. No one could shop at the store.

The temporary closure came after a woman was kicked by two store employees outside the business on July 24. The woman has been identified as Kelli Adams. Protests ensued a few hours after a video of the incident went viral on social media.

Police arrested two employees of the convenience store on the corner of Goodfellow and Delmar on July 24, 2018.
St. Louis American

On Tuesday, July 24, two St. Louis convenience store employees, later identified as Jehad Motan and Ahmed Qandeel, were seen on video kicking a black woman, Kelli Adams, who some describe as homeless, in front of the Gas Mart at Goodfellow and Delmar.

“This is a cornerstone to the neighborhood,” said Wiley Price IV, a community activist who is running for state representative in the district. “Everybody from near and far comes to this gas station, especially since they shut down the gas station on Delmar and Skinker.”