BREAKING NEWS: St. Louis prepares for largest social justice demonstrations since Ferguson

Carly Anderson, Managing EiC Intern

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In a city still reeling from the 2015 Ferguson riots, a murder trial concerning 36-year old white police officer Jason Stockley and the killing of black 24-year-old Anthony Smith has come to an end.

“It’s been very divisive in our department. It’s a tough deal for us because our friends are almost getting divided which is -we can’t-do that, we’ve just got to do our jobs and go on,” a St. Louis city police officer said.

Prior to the release of the verdict, speculation from various news sources said there may be severe reactions if Stockley is not held guilty of first-degree murder. Groups such as the Women’s March and Black Lives Matter announced plans to protest prior to the verdict, calling for disruption and “stopping money.”

“I think it’s a good way to voice their opinion because, without that, they would never really be heard amongst other people,” sophomore Ashley Chai said. “It’s not necessarily good because it causes a lot of violence, but I think it’s one of the only ways to catch people’s attention nowadays.”

Stockley waived his right to a jury, and five weeks later, Judge Timothy Wilson has decided that Jason Stockley is not guilty. This decision opposes the views of the St. Louis Ethical Society of the Police, who represent officers of color in the metropolitan area.

“The interesting thing about our school is that we’ve got such a wide range of everything, so there’s naturally going to be differing opinions,” Principal Jeremy Mitchell said. “Our goal is to make sure people feel safe and comfortable in being able to express themselves without getting to a place where it gets ugly.”

Many businesses have considered temporarily shutting down in preparation of the suspected riots. Wanting to keep students safe, Parkway canceled field trips on Sept. 14 in addition to school activities and sporting events the following weekend. The varsity field hockey game at University City on Sept. 15 and the Paul Enke/Hazelwood Central Invitational at Sioux Passage park for boys’ and girls’ cross country on Sept. 16 have both been canceled. The varsity football game at Clayton scheduled for Sept. 15 has moved to Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. 

“We go to no days off and 12-hour shifts. We have to place so much manpower into this incident, because what about the people that live in our neighborhoods, the people that need to call 9-1-1? We still have to protect our citizens. Nobody is off and that is very, very hard,” a city police officer said.

Even before the verdict became public, Kirkwood saw violence towards Black Lives Matter protesters on Sept. 13 after a driver in a white SUV sped into the crowd and drove away.

“We don’t know what they [protesters] are going to do but we have to be able to respond to that too. We don’t want them to get run over by a car,” the officer said. “The people that are doing the civil disobedience have their own way of doing things, but we still want to protect them.”