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St Louis rocked by another night of protest

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By Catherine Hardy  with REUTERS
St Louis rocked by another night of protest

St Louis police in riot gear have broken up the largest protest of the last three nights so far in the US city.

Property was damaged, including broken storefront windows. Protesters were ordered to disperse and several people were arrested.

More than 1,000 protesters gathered on Sunday evening. Police in turn deployed their largest show of force so far.

What happened?

Demonstrators had gathered in central St Louis for the third night in a row to protest against the acquittal of former police officer Jason Stockley of first-degree murder over the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

The protest began peacefully, as it had on Friday and Saturday nights, but turned disorderly after dark.

Most police and protesters left the area after about two hours, although police said they were still ordering people to disperse.

The protests began on Friday shortly after the acquittal.

Violence flared again on Saturday night when around 100 protesters gathered. Windows were broken and there were scuffles with police.

Who is organising the protests?

An informal group known as the “Ferguson frontline”. It focuses on what it describes as institutional racism that has allowed police to be cleared of criminal wrongdoing in several shootings of unarmed black men.

What was the court case about?

24-year-old Anthony Lamar Smith was shot in his car after Stockley and his partner chased him following what the authorities say was a drug deal.

Prosecutors argued that Stockley had planted a weapon in Smith’s car. However, the judge believed the gun belonged to Smith.

How many people have been arrested?

33 in total so far. 10 police officers have been injured.

Has this happened before?

Yes. The violence evoked memories of the riots following the 2014 shooting of a black teenager by a white officer in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson.

It followed the killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer who was not indicted.

The Ferguson protests gave rise to Black Lives Matter, a movement that has staged protests across the US.

What they are saying

“This is no longer a peaceful protest,” – St Louis police commented on Twitter.

“Windows can be replaced. Lives can’t.” – Missy Gunn, a member of Ferguson Frontine.