ACLU sues St. Louis police over handling of 2015 protest
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A week after approving a resolution remembering a man who was fatally shot by St. Louis police, the city’s Board of Aldermen considered — but did not pass — a resolution Friday honoring police for their handling of demonstrations that arose after the officer was acquitted.
With protesters outside City Hall, the board voted to send to committee a resolution commending “the men and women of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department for their steadfast dedication to safeguarding the well-being” of city residents.
Protesters outside the building said they were there to make city officials aware demonstrations that began Sept. 15 when former officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith are not winding down, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported .
Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. promised that the demonstrations will continue, saying “this is not a fly-by-night movement” that will end in the next month.
“One thing we have to get set straight first is black folks will stop being disproportionately affected by this system,” he said. “We’ll set the tone and we’ll set the time and we’ll set the place when it’s time to come to that table. Until then, they have to get used to everything that’s going on. Every single one of them that thinks we’re tired, we’re not.”
The board acknowledged the protesters efforts last week, when aldermen approved a resolution remembering Smith, in part to acknowledge the grief of Smith’s mother, Annie Smith.
″(Smith’s) death has sparked a universal cry for justice and accountability throughout the City of St. Louis,” read the resolution.
But the resolution upset police, who said it honored a man who tried to kill an officer. Some residents also felt Smith shouldn’t be honored because he had a criminal record.
Alderman Joseph Vaccaro introduced Friday’s resolution recognizing police.
“There are two sides to every story,” said Vaccaro, who has children working in law enforcement, “I’m here on behalf of the parents, grandparents and children worried about their moms and dads.”
Small-business owners who sat in a gallery Friday said they were there in solidarity with Stockley protesters and signed a letter to that effect.
Eliza Corriell, who owns The Crow’s Nest in Maplewood, said she and other business owners wonder whether they have more to fear from police than from vandals.
“Vandalism isn’t good. Nobody wants a broken window. But nobody’s dead because of a broken window,” she said.
Also Friday, the ACLU filed a second lawsuit in a week over the handling of protests after the fatal shooting of a different black suspect in 2015. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court stems from a protest in 2015 after the death of Mansur Ball-Bey. It claims police used tear gas without warning.