After a Missouri judge acquitted former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley, a white man, of  murder for the 2011 death of Anthony Lamar Smith, a Black motorist, unrest overtook St. Louis over the weekend. As recently as Monday, protestors formed a human chain in the same area where people deployed violence the night before.

Initially the peacefully assembled protesters, reportedly a diverse group, made their frustrations known. An estimated 1,000 people took to the streets in response to an all-too-familiar narrative: another white police officer killed a Black person and faced no legal punishment.

But, when Missouri police in riot gear chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets,” — in response to protestors — tensions intensified.

Given the circumstances, this saying translated as a threat to the civilly disobedient. At Ebony, Zahara Hill called the chant, often stated by protestors as a reminder to governmental actors of which population they should protect and serve, “a tyrannical exertion of [police] authority.”

Area coverage heavily emphasized property damage and police officers’ fears.

Activists said the police response, which included militarized posturing and gear, carried overtones of the police reaction in Ferguson. Additionally, an officer backed a vehicle toward a mass of protestors. More than 120 people were arrested, according to authorities. As civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. attested “a riot is the language of the unheard.”

 

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