Protesters And Police Clash In St. Louis

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The acquittal of a white former police officer in a black man's shooting death has sparked unrest and protests in St. Louis.

More than 120 people were arrested on Sept. 17 after protests turned violent, reports CNN. Ex-officer Jason Stockley was acquitted for the death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith, sparking protests in downtown St. Louis.

While the demonstrations began peacefully, after nightfall some protesters began to break pots and throw the pieces, among other reported acts of vandalism.

"Some criminals assaulted law enforcement officers and threw chemicals and rocks at them," said acting Police Commissioner Larry O'Toole. "All of the officers' injuries were minor or moderate. All will be returned to duty soon."

"We're in control," added O'Toole. "This is our city, and we're going to protect it."

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One Sept. 18, peaceful protesters gathered blocks away from where the previous night's violent protests took place.

"We want to achieve one goal -- an end to the disparate killings of black citizens at the hands of police," explained protester Bryan McClellan.

Stockley reportedly shot Smith in the chest in 2011, killing him. Stockley and partner Brian Bianchi had stopped the man after they saw what they suspected to be a drug deal.

Stockley was reported to have been carrying a personal AK-47 firearm -- in addition to his department-issued handgun -- in violation of the department's policies. The officer reportedly believed that Smith was armed when he shot him.

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A gun was found with Smith, but the only DNA found on the weapon belonged to Stockley. While prosecutors alleged that Stockley had planted the weapon, the judge at the trial said that the gun was too large to remain unseen by cameras.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson said that she wanted to come to an understanding with both sides of the protests.

"Frankly, I don't think those two positions are dichotomous," said Krewson, according to The New York Times. "It shouldn't be hard to understand what protesters are saying, and also at the the same time to support law enforcement."

Missouri Governor Eric Greitens issued a warning to demonstrators, saying that police would arrest those who looted or participated in violence, Breitbart reports.

"We had leaders who wanted to give people a safe space to loot and to burn," said Greitens. "Now in Missouri if you loot the only safe space you're going to have is in a jail cell."

"If you're going to riot we're going to cuff you," added the governor. "Violence and vandalism is not a protest. It is a crime."

Krewson said most of the protesters were not violent.

"The days have been calm, but the nights have been destructive," the mayor explained. "After the demonstrations, organizers announce that the daytime protests are over. But a group of agitators stay behind, apparently intent on breaking windows and destroying property. This is not acceptable."

"We have to work to do here in this city," admitted Krewson. "We need more and better opportunities for all our citizens."

Sources: CNN, The New York Times, Breitbart / Featured Image: Paul Sableman/Flickr / Embedded Images: Fibonacci Blue/Flickr, Dorret/Flickr

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