Stockley Protesters Make Voices Heard During Police Chief Search Meeting

Brett Blume (@brettblumekmox)

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Those angry about the Stockley verdict made their voices heard during Wednesday night’s meeting of the committee helping to oversee the search for a new St. Louis police chief.

“No justice, no peace!” one woman shouted as others in the audience of about 125 cheered.

Standing in the back of the room at the O’Fallon Recreation Complex in north city were people holding banners denouncing the Stockley verdict, which has already led to several nights of protests in the streets of downtown St. Louis, the Delmar Loop, the Central West End, and at the Galleria in Brentwood.

“It doesn’t matter what police chief comes here!” another demonstrator yelled. “The St. Louis city and St. Louis County police departments are corrupt. They always have been!”

This was the fifth meeting of the Citizen Advisory Committee, but the first since a judge decided not to charge former city police officer Jason Stockley with first-degree murder in the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith.

Former city alderman Antonio French, therefore, was not surprised at the outbursts toward the end of the 90-minute session.

“These are a lot of the same concerns that we’ve been hearing on the streets and we’ve been hearing, frankly, all across St. Louis during the last three to four years,” French told KMOX. “People want to see change and they want the next chief of police to be a change agent – someone who will come in and help change the culture that is just too violent.”

It turns out for French, and many others at the CAC meeting, interim St. Louis police chief Lawrence O’Toole is not the answer.

Every time his name came up during the discussion, a large portion of the audience yelled “No O’Toole!”

Some express their belief that a new chief has to come from outside the St. Louis culture altogether, thus their backing of an ongoing nationwide search.

There’s no word yet on when a final decision on a new chief will be made.

More meetings of the Citizen Advisory Committee will be held, but no dates have yet been announced.

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