Last night, following a peaceful prayer vigil for the armed man killed by an off-duty city police officer Wednesday evening in return fire, protesters who have been plaguing the St. Louis region for two months since a black man was killed in an incident with a white police officer in the North St. Louis County suburb of Ferguson, marched, walked, and otherwise drifted to Grand Avenue, a major thoroughfare on the south side of the city and that is when things turned ugly.
The St. Louis Metropolitan Police, a presence there to keep the peace and be sure that the protesters right to be heard in the streets were defended, very much do not want a repeat of the scenes that captured the world’s attention in August. Â In thanks for their restraint, bricks were thrown at them and this, according to Matt Sczesny of local CBS affiliate KMOV:
According to the StLToday website:
Police Chief Sam Dotson was at the protest scene late Thursday and into early today….
Dotson saidÂ his officers were being respectful of the protesters’ right to gather and make their voices heard, but he said they in turn needed to be respectful of the businesses on South Grand and nearby residents.
He said the demonstrators had broken an agreement to disperse if police let an isolated group join the larger one.
“I’m very disappointed,” Dotson said. “We acted in good faith. It just shows how unorganized the protest leadership is.”
At 1 a.m., the St. Louis police called the party over, and brought in the armored vehicles and riot gear to disperse the crowd. Â But not before:
- An American flag was stolen from a nursing home and burned.
- A brick was thrown through the window of a home. Â It is not clear if it was a house or duplex.
- A Medicine Shoppe building was vandalized, windows being broken out.
- One officer was injured.
- Two more police vehicles were damaged.
And all the police did was pepper spray those being disorderly. Â Eight were arrested for various charges including marijuana possession.
According to local reports, the crowd was approximately 200-300 people and full of the professional agitators who have decided to make an example of St. Louis and the racial polarity that the people gravitated to once official segregation was over. Â The stark lines have been slowly dissipating in the last fifteen years. Â South Grand is one of the neighborhoods that very much rose from the dead in the last twenty years with a diverse group of residents, including quite a few Vietnamese. Â The only reason why South Grand and Shaw have been targeted is because of Wednesday night’s shooting. Â (A police report of the incident can be found here.) Â To residents of St. Louis, this is horrifying as South Grand is one of the gems of revitalization.
The organizing parties of the protesters have set up a website, fergusonoctober.com to inform their forces of where to be and when complete with a countdown ticker. Â Today, they are due to march in Clayton, which is the county seat of St. Louis County, at County Prosecutor Bob McCullough’s office. Â This is going to disrupt traffic, and make a mess right at lunch time in one of the more productive business districts. Â Protests are set for downtown tomorrow and a hip hop protest on Sunday. Â If the conditions here hold, those of us who live in the region can go about our business, avoiding these areas and there will be no problems. Â Despite a LARGE police presence at the St. Louis Blues season opener, there were zero protesters outside or inside the venue. Â Just the usual ticket hawkers across the street and some bad street music when the game was over. Â (This is a first hand account. Â I was there.)
What is clear from the protesters is that where ever they are from – and in various arrest records, there have been any number from Oakland, the east coast, Chicago, Texas and more – they are not honoring the agreements to holding peaceful gatherings rather than riots. Â They are trying to provoke a fight with law enforcement. Â What they are doing is giving a city loved by its residents a bad name, and now burning the very symbol of our beloved country. Â If they really don’t like it here, they can leave.
Evidence from Wednesday night’s “peaceful” protest posted on the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Facebook page.