The Saint Louis Streets Protests
The Saint Louis streets protest are probably some of the fiercest rallies in the United States after the end of the divisive Jim Crow rules in the 1950s. The protesters were angry over the acquittal of former police officer Jackson Stanley, a white officer on trial for the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24-year-old black man (McLaughlin, & Cullinane, 2017). The demonstrators were gathered near the scene of the crime where they expressed their displeasure with the judiciary’s decision and the entire police department. Overall, this march showed the deep-rooted racial divide in the country and the distrust that most Americans have on the judiciary and the police departments.
The demonstrations began peacefully but became violent after nightfall. During the ensuing skirmishes, some rioters broke concrete pots and used the broken pieces as projectiles. Others damaged private property and had guns, which shows they were using the rally to conceal their criminal intentions (McLaughlin, & Cullinane, 2017). Consequently, the protesters were dispersed, and over 100 individuals were arrested to avoid further vandalism.
In December 2011, Stockley shot and killed Smith, after witnessing a suspected drug transaction (McLaughlin, & Cullinane, 2017). According to Bianchi, who was patrolling with the accused, the latter exited his police car after it rammed Smith’s vehicle and he ordered the young man to show his hands. Believing that Smith was reaching for his gun, and fearing for his safety, the defendant shot the plaintiff in the chest. He then proceeded to enter the plaintiff’s car where he located the weapon (McLaughlin, & Cullinane, 2017). Forensic analysis revealed that the gun he claimed to have found did not have Smith’s DNA. Consequently, the prosecutors alleged that Stockley had planted the gun, but the judge did not buy it (McLaughlin, & Cullinane, 2017). In his ruling, Judge Timothy Wilson acquitted Stockely and said the gun was too large to hide from the cameras at the scene.
The protests at Saint Louis Street shows the public’s distrust in the judiciary and the police department. Given that this demonstration came shortly after the fierce “Black Lives Matter” march, it shows the deep-rooted racial divide in the country. Further, it also heightens the topic on racial profiling on African Americans, where black societies feel targeted by both the police and judiciary. To avoid similar rallies in future, the United States should solve the underlying social and economic factors that have led to the public’s distrust of the legal systems.
McLaughlin, E., & Cullinane, S. (2017). Protesters back in St. Louis streets after night of violence. Retrieved from http://edition.cnn.com/2017/09/18/us/jason-stockley-st-louis-protest-arrests/index.html.