Ed Sheeran and U2 have both cancelled their St Louis concerts as more protests erupt in the Missouri city over the acquittal of a white cop who shot dead a black man in 2011.
Friday night’s upheaval saw 32 people arrested and at least ten officers injured – including one who had his jaw broken and another who dislocated his shoulder.
On Saturday, another 300 marched at West County Center Mall to carry on their demonstration for a second night.
Macy’s closed its doors in fear of the crowd and there was an increased police presence at the mall.
They are angry about the acquittal of white cop Jason Stockley who was cleared of murdering black drug dealer Anthony Smith in 2011 on Friday after years of anticipation.
Many believe Stockley planted a gun in Smith’s car after he shot him six times following a high-speed car chase. The weapon had none of the dead man’s DNA on it but Stockey’s fingerprints were picked up.
Despite public outcry over the shooting, Stockley was acquitted of first degree murder yesterday and the decision sparked uproar in the Missouri town.
In response to the decision, protesters stormed the mayor’s house and burned flags outside, threatening more violence on Saturday night.
As concerns over violence grew, Messina Touring Group posted a cancellation notice on the website of the Scott Trade Center, where Sheeran had been expected to play on Sunday.
‘With the safety of the fans being of upmost concern, and after consulting with local officials, who could not fully commit to providing a sufficient amount of police and other city services support, we felt it was in everyone’s best interest to cancel Sunday night’s show,’ it read.
‘While we regret to have had to come to this decision, we do look forward to returning to St Louis as soon as Ed’s schedule will allow in 2018.
And earlier in the day, U2 issued its own statement, saying: ‘We have been informed by the St Louis Police Department that they are not in a position to provide the standard protection for our audience as would be expected for an event of this size.
‘We have also been informed that local crowd security personnel would not be at full capacity. In light of this information, we cannot in good conscience risk our fans’ safety by proceeding with tonight’s concert.
‘As much as we regret having to cancel, we feel it is the only acceptable course of action in the current environment.’
Ticketholders will be able to claim a refund online or at their place of purchase, they added.
With more protests feared to take place on Saturday night, an angry crowd formed at West County Mall to march.
They were non-violent and marched through the mall chanting various slogans. Friday night’s protests were decidedly more threatening.
Police found guns at some of the protest sites and were forced to put out dumpster fires in other areas.
In a late night message, Mayor Lyda Krewson, who was forced to flee her home as protesters descended on it, joined St Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson to deliver a message to the city’s residents.
‘Our officers have been very tolerant and have used great restraint however this evening we’ve had some incidents.
‘Tonight, we responded to numerous locations as demonstrators marched through the city. After dark, many agitators began to destroy property and assault police officers.
‘A total of 9 St Louis officers were injured. Injuries of St Louis city officers include a possible broken jaw as well as one officer with a dislocated shoulder.
‘Windows were also broken, restaurants sustained damage as did the library. Tear gas was deployed after officers were assaulted with bricks and bottles.’
The force shared a photograph on Twitter of a gun that was found at one of the scenes.
Westgate Mall was temporarily shut down on Saturday in the second day of upheaval. They chanted: ‘You kill one of us, we kill your economy’ and carried Black Lives Matter signs above their heads.
Susanna Prins, 27, of University City, showed up at a meeting to plan the action carrying a sign stating, ‘White silence is violence.’
‘I feel helpless and I feel just rage,’ Prins said. ‘Not saying or doing anything makes you complicit in the brutalization of our friends and neighbors.
Video footage taken inside shows them chanting from the escalators.
They formed their plan in a park hours earlier where one protester told local station KSDK: ‘There’s only two things this country understands: money and eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth.
‘The second, we’re not engaged in so we have to affect this system economically. Today, we are going to shut down a mall.’
On Friday night, protesters used milk to take the pepper spray out of their eyes.
The head of the NAACP St. Louis asked President Donald Trump and the Justice Department to immediately review Stockley’s acquittal.
St. Louis Public Radio reports that in a letter sent Friday, St. Louis NAACP president Adolphus Pruitt said the Justice Department needed to give immediate attention to the case ‘to get to the truth of what happened and to ensure that justice has been served.’
Pruitt said the community has lost faith in local authorities to fairly handle such cases.
He cited the remarks from Albert Watkins, the attorney for Smith’s fiancee. Watkins said ruling was ‘appallingly contrary’ to evidence in the case.
Watkins said the family disagrees with the judge’s ruling that the state didn’t meet its burden of proof for a finding that the officer was guilty of murder.
Watkins and Smith’s fiance, Christina Wilson, on Thursday appealed for calm and non-violent protest no matter what verdict was issued.
Wells Fargo Advisors, brokerage and investment firm Stifel and Nestle Purina PetCare all sent thousands of employees home Friday after the acquittal.
And an Alzheimer’s Walk scheduled for Saturday in downtown St. Louis was postponed.
Republican Gov. Eric Greitens was highly critical during his 2016 campaign of how former Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon managed the Ferguson protests, suggesting that with the right presence and leadership there could have been peace by the second night.
In advance of the Stockley verdict, Greitens met with Smith’s fiancée, black state lawmakers, black St. Louis faith leaders and law enforcement in the hopes of projecting a shared message that peaceful protest would be tolerated but violence wouldn’t.
Before the verdict, Greitens put the National Guard on standby, and some troops were deployed Friday night to guard fire stations and other “critical infrastructure” that Greitens didn’t specify. He was in St. Louis Friday night and met with local law enforcement officials.
Police erected barricades around their own headquarters and the courthouse and dozens of officers in flak jackets and helmets who wielded batons and shields corralled demonstrators throughout the day and evening.
Demonstrators occasionally lobbed objects into the fortified line of officers, who used pepper spray to repel the crowd.
Tensions flared several times, including when protesters blocked a bus full of riot officers, damaged a police cruiser with rocks and later broke a window and spattered red paint on the home of Mayor Lyda Krewson.
After a tense standoff at the mayor’s home, police used tear gas to clear the area.
Police said they made nearly two-dozen arrests before dark and more in the evening, though they still hadn’t provided an updated figure more than 12 hours later.
Stockley testified that he saw the 24-year-old holding a silver revolver as he sped away and felt he was in imminent danger as he was approaching the vehicle later.
At his trial, prosecutors said Stockley planted a gun in Smith’s car after the shooting – Stockley’s DNA was on the weapon but Smith’s wasn’t. Dashcam video from Stockley’s cruiser captured him saying he was “going to kill this (expletive), don’t you know it.” Less than a minute later, he shot Smith five times.
Stockley’s lawyer dismissed the comment as “human emotions” uttered during a dangerous pursuit and the judge said it could be ambiguous.
St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson said prosecutors didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Stockley murdered Smith or that the officer didn’t act in self-defense.
SOURCE: Daily Mail, James Wilkinson and Jennifer Smith; The Associated Press