Acquittal of Officer Leads St. Louis Into Days of Protests

A city of continual chaos

Fatimah Dixon, Staff Writer

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In the past few years, shootings nationwide have become a persistent problem, especially those of police towards African Americans. However, for many, the dilemma arises when the officers who are charged with shooting African Americans are acquitted of their crimes, often leading to civil unrest, such as what has happened in St. Louis.

The protests in St. Louis, Missouri began Friday when a judge ruled Jason Stockley, a former white police officer, not guilty in the 2011 first-degree murder of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man. The diverse demonstrations continued throughout the weekend, eventually turning violent at night.

The violence begin after a day of peaceful demonstrations beginning at the police headquarters and ending in downtown St. Louis. However, after most of the crowd left, the 100 or so protesters that remained turned violent, breaking windows of shops and knocking down newsstands. These protesters were met with law enforcement, who were dressed in their riot uniforms and used pepper spray to make the protesters comply. On Sunday night, officers said to have arrested 80 protesters.  

For the residents of St. Louis, Missouri, an occurrence of this nature comes as an unfortunate pattern. Before the protests that occurred this past weekend, another set of demonstrations were held in 2014 for the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri at the hands of another white police officer. It is from these protests that a controversial national movement was started in opposition of police brutality, called the #BlackLivesMatter movement, which came forth after the increasing publicity of police brutality towards African Americans.  

Critics of the movement believe that it separates races by putting an emphasis on black lives when it should be about everyone, and in turn, came up with another saying: #AllLivesMatter. However, when there seems to be a steady increase of black people dying by the hands of aggressive police officers who believe that they were simply killing in the name of ‘self-defense’, it becomes necessary to emphasize. The #BlackLivesMatter movement is not intended to separate different races, but to speak out against police brutality, which becomes necessary when officers are killing 12-year-olds and choking unarmed men to death. The movement brings awareness to the injustice of these killings, killings such as Anthony Lamar Smith and Michael Brown in Missouri.

Lately, it has become such a common occurrence to hear about another black person that has been fatally shot by a police officer, leading many people to become desensitized to the fact that another life was lost. Cases such as Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Freddie Gray, Philando Castile, Dante Price, Alton Sterling, Amadou Diallo, and Michael Brown, are just some examples of an officer fatally shooting a black person and getting acquitted for it.

 

This information was provided by the New York Times. 

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