RT, September 21, 2017
The St. Louis Galleria mall in an upscale suburban area of the city went into lockdown and nearby traffic was blocked as hundreds of protesters chanted slogans including, “Shut it down,” before police eventually cleared away demonstrators.
The protesters came together late Wednesday afternoon around 5:30pm Central time, nearly one week after a verdict cleared a former police officer of murder charges. Demonstrators were met with a heavy police presence, as patrol cars and officers formed a road block between the protesters and Interstate 64 nearby.
Protesters yelled “No justice, no profits,” aimed at thwarting sales at the mall, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Several shoppers and an employee inside the Galleria took to social media to say the mall had been shut down and they were being told they could not leave due to protests outside the facility.
Officers with shields and masks arrived on the scene just after 6pm. At around 6:30pm, the St. Louis County Police Department texted media outlets that they were asking protesters to leave the roadways they were occupying. A little before 7pm, demonstrators dispersed from the area after the police declared the protests an unlawful assembly, according to the Washington Post.
Protests started on September 15 after former officer Jason Stockley was acquitted in a trial related to his part in the 2011 shooting death of 24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith. Protests have been both peaceful and violent in the last week.
Mass arrests occurred Sunday, and police were accused of using a technique known as “kettling,” or boxing in a large number of people into one area to arrest them. Police had asked the protesters to disperse or face arrest before the incident happened.
Before Wednesday’s protests, the advertised gathering spot for demonstrators was supposed to be downtown Clayton. But that appeared to be a decoy, as the protests emerged about a mile away at the Galleria. The Galleria and Clayton were targeted to disrupt the established order in affluent communities, St. Louis Public Radio reported.
Officials and business owners in Clayton had prepared for large crowds on Wednesday after recent protests in downtown St. Louis, the Delmar Loop and the Central West End.
Earlier on Wednesday, County Executive Steve Stenger commented in a statement that police were ready to “protect the public, the businesses of Clayton and any demonstrators planning to gather here in order to lawfully exercise their right of free speech,” according to St. Louis Public Radio.