This week we saw another example of violent protests over the acquittal of a white police officer who was tried for the murder of a black man he shot and killed in the line of duty. Officer Jason Stockley of the St. Louis Police Department shot and killed Anthony Smith after a suspected drug transaction and a high speed chase in late 2011. While most police shootings usually don’t end with charges filed against the officer involved, this one did. This case proved to be particularly difficult because for various reasons the prosecution took some time to gather and process the evidence of the case. The city settled a wrongful death lawsuit with the deceased’s estate for $900,000 in 2014 but admitted no wrongdoing. Then in May of 2016, Stockley was charged with first degree murder. This last Friday, Sept 15th, Stockley was acquitted by Judge Timothy J. Wilson who in a 30 page decision ruled that the state failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant’s use of deadly force was not justified in self defense. Violent protests ensued over the weekend.
Regardless of our opinions, the facts of the case, who was at fault or whether the shooting was justified or not, we would simply like to bring up the aftermath of the verdict. In the past few years there has been a growing backlash against police use of deadly force all over the country. Rather than peaceful civil disobedience we are seeing an obvious trend towards violent protests. In this case there was a great deal of property damage and economic loss. Almost all of the injuries reported were those of police officers. There were reports of about 2 dozen officers having been injured, most of these due to blunt force attacks or projectiles having been thrown (i.e. bricks). Many of the injuries were minor however one officer suffered a dislocated shoulder and another a broken jaw.
Officials also released a list of injuries to the 11 unnamed officers. They included one officer with a broken jaw and another with a dislocated shoulder, both from thrown bricks, and various lesser injuries caused primarily by thrown objects. St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Protest Violent on 2nd Day
It’s important to be situationally aware of current events in your area. Riots like this often result in injuries to people who happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Many of us remember the footage of the Rodney King riots in the early ’90s as innocent people were pulled from cars and beaten senseless. Fortunately there have been no reports of assaults on innocent bystanders. There was however significant property damage.
Protesters immediately targeted government officials. They surrounded and attacked the home of the St. Louis Mayor.
About 1,000 protesters surrounded the home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson in the Central West End late Friday, breaking at least two windows and throwing red paint at the brick house before some 200 police in riot gear moved in to break it up. St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Violent Protestors cause Property Damage
It appears that many of the protesters intended to damage property and cause monetary loss without regard to the political opinion of the owner or any pertinent rational.
Among property damage Friday night, police said in a statement, were broken windows and thrown red paint at Krewson’s home near Lake and Waterman; shattered windows at various locations in the area including a Subway sandwich shop, a Walgreen’s, the St. Louis Public Library’s Schlafly Branch, and several local businesses; broken vehicle windows including those on two police vehicles; and 18 fires. St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Protest Violent on 2nd Day
A fairly new tactic of these modern protesters is to block highways and interstates. Although the media seems willing to broadcast most race related protests, it appears that is not enough for the protesters. Again no regard is given to the lack of involvement of practically everyone they are hurting. It’s guilt by association; guilt because of skin color or simply where one lives. When a highway is disrupted unexpectedly and for long periods of time a variety of personal tragedies could be caused. The organizers of these protests appear to be involved in an attempt to draft the public at large into their campaign by force or by shame whether they are right or wrong. It is a classic case of believing that the ends justify the means… and for those uninvolved we wager that this type of tactic is likely to backfire and only to hurt their cause.
By nightfall, protesters were marching south on Kingshighway toward Highway 40 (Interstate 64), some chanting: “If you kill our kids, we kill your economy!” Southbound Kingshighway was closed from Lindell to the interstate, police said. A large number of police vehicles blocked on- and off-ramps there. The marchers eventually turned back north again after being denied access to the interstate. St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Violent Protestors cause Property Damage
In addition to obvious property damage, many businesses face lost profits and employees face lost wages. Many widely publicized events were canceled and real monetary damages were created for many in St. Louis. It remains to be seen if any of the businesses will be able to recover damages against the protest organizers via the court system for their losses.
For some hotels, restaurants and retailers, paying for plywood and replacement windows is only the beginning. Some businesses have trimmed operating hours before and after protests, resulting in lost revenue and fewer hours for employees. St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Disruption takes toll on local economy
Emotions are running high so regardless of what you or I may think is right or wrong, in order to be most situationally ready we must be aware of how others might view the world and local events.
For some in St. Louis, economic concerns are eclipsed by the social justice issues raised by the Stockley verdict. In a Facebook post on Sunday, the Rev. Traci Blackmon, a senior pastor at Christ The King United Church of Christ in North County and a member of the Ferguson Commission, wrote: “Let me be clear: I don’t give a damn about your broken windows. Because, clearly, you don’t give a damn about our babies’ bullet-riddled bodies. I will replace your window. You replace your killer cops … and we still won’t be even.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Disruption takes toll on local economy
Again regardless of where you fall politically on these issues, it is clear that they are happening more and more often. In fact, due to the poignancy of social media, its immediacy and the power of mass media in general, many are protesting at the drop of a hat without waiting for any facts to come out. Consider the recent case of the arrest of a nurse in Salt Lake City who refused to allow police to draw blood on a truck driver who was incapacitated. The issue was one of hospital policy but state statute requires CDL holders to pre-consent to blood draws so it was really a moot legal point. Many involved have demonstrated extreme knee jerk reactions. Most certainly we at this site strongly support the 4th amendment. However the media has blown it out of proportion and due to public pressure the officers involved are being left to flap in the wind. The reality of what happened and what the current law requires appears to be of little consequence to those on the soap boxes. This leaves the good and honest police officers caught between a rock and hard place as they attempt to simultaneously please everyone and enforce the law.
What can we learn? What should we do?
- Staying current about local events can pay off. In this case residents were aware of the tension and the timing of the announcement of the Judges verdict in the case. Similarly to the recent hurricanes, this situation could have been predicted.
- Property damage is bound to occur. That is a given. The race driven and leftist ideological protesters we’ve seen this summer (2017) have shown no qualms about damaging property.
- Pay attention to local protests and traffic patterns. Statistically speaking if 25,000 vehicles are blocked for several hours on the interstate, it’s entirely within reason to assume that one of those vehicles was on the way to the hospital due to a medical emergency. Many others may have suffered monetarily due to time sensitive issues. Perhaps we as a society should begin recognize the monetary damages caused when dealing with violent intentional protests and take legal action.
- It seems that it is time that honest Americans more vocally (and peacefully) assert their innocence when dealing with race driven and leftist protests. Even parties sympathetic to these causes are being unnecessarily damaged by the perpetrators of these violent crimes against persons and property. Whether the police are to blame or not, the public at large is certainly not to blame regardless of what media and other pundits would have us believe.