Hundreds took to the street to protest after Jason Stockley, a white former policeman was found not guilty for the murder of Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24-year-old Black man, in December 2011.
Local universities have begun responding to the city’s unrest.
Since the 1,000 demonstrators began marching through Delmar Boulevard chanting “Black Lives Matter” and “No justice, No peace,” 33 people have been arrested, 23 storefronts have been damaged, and nine police officers have been injured. The administrations at three universities have released statements as the protests enter their third consecutive day.
“We do not expect the ongoing events to directly affect logistics or safety on this campus; however, we recognize that they impact the lives of many people for whom Webster Groves is their primary campus,” read a safety message on Webster University’s website. “We are monitoring the changing situation with an eye on whether primary transportation routes to campus from other parts of the region are disrupted.”
Webster University’s administration announced that there would be an open forum on Monday for students to discuss the Stockley verdict.
Washington University in St. Louis held a similar event for students called “Gathering to Reflect upon the Stockley Decision” on Friday following the verdict’s announcement. The student newspaper Student Life reported that faculty and administration expressed their grief over the judge’s decision. Sam Seekings am editor at the newspaper wrote in an email that “the overwhelming sentiment was one of anger and frustration.”
Seekings explained that this verdict is part of a larger historical context. Originally from Wisconsin, he admitted that even as a member of the community, he has a limited understanding of the social tumult. “What you’re seeing here is the result of the city being one of the most racially segregated in the United States, of tensions that have built up since 1917 with the East St. Louis race riots and beyond, and I don’t think it’s truly possible to understand all that without having lived here.”
Saint Louis University’s student government posted an announcement on Friday supporting those students who wanted to join the demonstrations. “Many will choose to protest the verdict,” it read. “In support of the decision of many to exercise their First Amendment rights, the Student Government Association will have water bottles available for pick-up at the SGA office in the Busch Student Center tonight and throughout the weekend.”