ACLU sues St. Louis alleging police misconduct during protests

Frederick Owens
September 24, 2017

Protests have occurred around the St. Louis area since a judge ruled September 15 that Jason Stockley was not guilty in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

At noon, protesters began gathering at the America's Center on Washington Avenue, where protest leaders say clergy from various faiths and denominations will call on Joyce Meyers to speak out against police shootings of unarmed black people.

The St. Louis police department has faced other criticism for how it handled the aftermath of the Stockley verdict, including after officers were accused of chanting, "Whose Streets?" The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Alderman John Collins-Muhammad said he invited Annie Smith to show her that aldermen "share her pain, frustration and dissatisfaction".

While Americans take pride in their ability to take to the streets and protest, when it comes to St. Louis, nearly half of Americans think the civil unrest is being fueled by opportunistic criminals.

The ACLU announced the lawsuit in a Friday press release after a full week of violent protests in St. Louis over the acquittal of former officer Jason Stockley in the 2011 shooting of Anthony Lamar Smith.

"I think everyone deserves the same rights as I do", plaintiff Maleeha Ahmad, who said she was pepper-sprayed by police, told the ACLU.

Protesters believe prosecutors' claims that Stockley planted a gun in Smith's vehicle immediately after the shooting.

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Jason Stockley and his partner sought to question Anthony Lamar Smith after witnessing what they thought was a drug transaction.

A spokesman for Mayor Lyda Krewson says the mayor's office has not seen the lawsuit, and declined comment.

United States rights activists have sued the city of St. Louis, Missouri, over police's violent treatment of protestors during a series of rallies sparked by the acquittal of a white officer accused of killing an African American man.

The suit filed Friday accuses police of misconduct by using chemical weapons, interfering with video of police activity and violating due process. Most of those arrests were on Friday and Sunday nights.

"While long shifts and being the subject of the protest is understandably challenging for police, that is no excuse for violating the Constitution", said Tony Rothert, legal director of the Missouri ACLU.

A St. Louis County outlet mall is being targeted by protesters one week after a judge acquitted a former police officer in the shooting death of a black man.

A hundred twenty people were arrested Sunday night during a demonstration in downtown St. Louis, when police used "kettling" - a method of grouping protestors in a small area for crowd control - to box in protesters. Watching them from inside glass doors to the facility were people attending a conference organized by evangelist Joyce Meyer. Individual stores with exterior entrances could choose to stay open later, but Cabela's, Burlington Coat Factory and the movie theater all indicated they would close as well.

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