Protests Form at Galleria Mall Wednesday, Following Acquittal of Ex-Police Officer


Credit to Isaiah Bryant

Protesters follow their leaders chants on Sept. 20, at the Galleria Mall.

By Isaiah Bryant

“Who’s streets? Our streets!”

These words sparked the flames of an organized protest, with the group’s leader calling for change in the “corrupt system allowing police to murder black people and with no consequence.”

The protest formed at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, at the St. Louis Galleria Mall. Six days prior, ex- Police Officer Jason Stockley was acquitted for the shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith, a black 24-year-old man. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Smith was shot by Stockley after a high speed chase stemming from a suspected drug deal. Protests of the acquittal formed quickly and continued over the following days.

Police were notified of the protest, and before demonstration began, three busses of police officers headed toward the mall. The police swarmed the area, swiftly blocking access to the roads on either side of the mall. Police were armed with riot gear, though there was no use of it during the protest.

Led by a young woman with a bullhorn, demonstrators blocked the road near the exit toward highway 64. Chants were performed by the large group, accompanied by three drummers. Before long, “tear gas on the way” began to circulate through the crowd. A mom with her two children immediately left when the crowd began to move to the east side of the mall, away from the police officers.

The group moved out of the street and into the mall parking lot. Then moved back into the street once they distanced themselves from the police. One of the protesters, a middle aged black man with a button down shirt and goatee stepped up from the group and yelled, “Do not let the police through. Lock arms with the people around you. Cover both sides.”

The group followed directions, and completely blocked police from getting through. Demonstrators continued up Brentwood Boulevard until the other side of the mall was reached.

Shortly thereafter, a police officer pulled close to the crowd and announced, “This is an unlawful assembly. You are impeding traffic, and this is no longer a peaceful protest and if the road is not cleared, you will be subject to arrest.”

The protest’s leader moved the crowd out of the street and into the mall’s parking lot. Mall security rushed to prevent anyone from entering the already locked doors as the demonstration congregated in front of the mall’s middle entrance. Three helicopters circled overhead.

The leader of the demonstration explained to the crowd the purpose of civil disobedience and the importance of economic disturbance in stirring the slow moving change needed in the community. “Our goal here is to shut down the mall. You have to hit their pockets to make them understand. We have achieved this. We have shut down an entire mall.”

The protest ended with a final chant: “Expect us.”

Protesters then went home, only an hour after beginning. The goal of the protest was to cause a temporary shutdown of the mall in order to disturb the flow of money. The protest began, and ended, peacefully with no injuries and zero arrests.