Tension between police and POC is nothing new and many of us have experienced it firsthand, but this relationship has taken a disturbing turn in St. Louis. The increasingly hostile relationship between St. Louis police and local residents continues to get worse, as the police are arresting residents in large quantities.
In response to the devastating and controversial verdict in the murder case of Anthony Lamar Smith, where white St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley was acquitted of all charges, angry St. Louis residents have continued to protest nonstop to express their outrage. This isn’t sitting well with local police, who have responded with mass arrests throughout the city and adding to the racial tensions.
Blavity has the full details on the St. Louis situation, including the technique they are using to arrest protestors in mass amounts:
The protests have been commended for being mostly nonviolent. However, many peaceful protesters have been receiving what has been criticized as extra harsh treatment at the hands of St. Louis police officers, who have been chanting “Whose streets? Our streets!” as they arrest people.
A practice called “kettling” is causing both protesters and police officers trouble. Kettling involves boxing protesters into a limited area in order to control them. St. Louis police have used this technique often during the Smith protests, but now some say that it is resulting in innocent and peaceful protesters being arrested for no reason.
Recently, cops in riot gear shut down a peaceful protest before sun down. Demonstrators felt that this action was an illegal challenge to their freedom of assembly, but began to disperse according to the Huffington Post. However, they were kettled as they continued protesting near the St. Louis Galleria. They were told to evacuate the area.
Of the 22 residents recently arrested, they were all formally charged with trespassing, rioting, assault on a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct. The police claim they only arrested those who refused to disperse when asked, but witnesses say that protestors were deliberately boxed in, making it difficult for them to leave.
The American Civil Liberties Union has also gotten involved and plans to file a lawsuit against the St. Louis police department over claims that they violated the civil rights of citizens.
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