St. Louis Protests Erupt Again in Shaw, And Cops Are Bracing Themselves for a Hard Weekend
For the second night since the fatal shooting of Vonderrit D. Myers Jr., protests erupted in Shaw, St.Louis. Residents, enraged by what they take to be yet another instance of racially charged police brutality, took to the streets and faced off with the local cops — before the night was over, the police were in riot gear, pepper spray had been used, and eight arrests had been made.
Earlier this week, 18-year-old Myers was fatally shot, several times, by an off-duty St. Louis police officer. Before the police even had time to release the name of cop in question, many began calling the incident "another Ferguson" — referring, of course, to the fatal shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson just over two months ago. (Shaw, MO is only 11 miles south of the Ferguson.) This is in spite of the differences between the cases — most significantly, the cops' claim that Myers fired the first shot.
The details remain blurred, however, and really, the clearest thing to come from this incident is how little trust is left in the police force. In spite of providing ballistic evidence of Myers' gun, residents are convinced that the cops are lying — or at least not telling them the whole truth. Even Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, a St. Louis Democrat, isn't buying the police's story: "This here was racial profiling turned deadly," Nasheed said at a press conference Thursday.
Protests began on Wednesday and continued on Thursday, when hundreds of people gathered together in central Shaw, not far from where Myers was killed. Though things began peacefully, with a candlelight vigil for the teenager, the situation soon escalated. Social media shows scenes of protestors burning American flags, attacking police cars and shouting at the police officers; while on the other side, policemen in riot gear stood in lines and pepper sprayed the crowd. According to Faith Karimi and Ralph Ellis of CNN, eight arrests were made by the end of the night — five for "unlawful assembly," two for allegedly damaging property, and one for pot possession.
This familiar scene of cops vs. protestors is likely to continue over the weekend. The whole St. Louis region had, even before Myers' killing, planned a so-called “Weekend of Resistance” — a series of demonstrations that will take place from Friday to Sunday, protesting racially charged police brutality. Now, with Myers' death, the tension will no doubt escalate even further — though officers are preparing themselves. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, St. Louis County officers are being put on 12-hour shifts, and every call — even minor issues — will now be answered by at least two cops.
Yah, exhausted, tense policemen. That won't make matters worse at all.